Abandon the Old in Tokyo

ISBN: 1894937872
ISBN 13: 9781894937870
By: Yoshihiro Tatsumi Adrian Tomine

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About this book

"These stories get under your skin and invite rereading." ­-BookForum Abandon the Old in Tokyo is the second in a three-volume series that collects the short stories of Japanese cartooning legend Yoshihiro Tatsumi. Designed and edited by Adrian Tomine, the first volume, The Push Man and Other Stories, debuted to much critical acclaim and rightfully placed Tatsumi as a legendary precursor to the North American graphic-novel movement. Abandon the Old in Tokyo continues to delve into the urban underbelly of 1960s Tokyo, exposing not only the seedy dealings of the Japanese everyman but Tatsumi's maturation as a story writer.

Reader's Thoughts

Lars Guthrie

Tatsumi is growing on me. This collection of tales from the seventies is even darker and bleaker than 'The Push Man,' if that's possible. Tatsumi is a master of the dark and the bleak. It's interesting that he says he is unfamiliar with Crumb and other American underground pioneers in an afterword interview with Adrian Tomine, because he certainly shares an affinity for what seems autobiographical (despite his protestations), and for frankly examining perversity. Where Crumb goes over the top with big bottoms and huge feet, though, Tatsumi's characters are drawn with a light, almost bland touch, that makes his stories more haunting and disturbing. He takes us on an uncomfortable journey following everday people in everyday situations into their most secret places.

Sam Quixote

"Abandon The Old in Tokyo" is Tatsumi's second collected edition from Drawn & Quarterly and shows a marked shift in tone from the dark, satirical humour in "The Push Man" to a much darker worldview in this book. The first thing to notice is that the pieces are longer this time around. Tatsumi uses this length to go deeper into the minds of his protagonists and the Japanese society of this time. The title story is about a young man, torn between a life with his fiancee and a more restricted life looking after his invalid mother. Flashbacks show the mother to be neglectful of her son in his youth while she forgot to feed him and went drinking with men instead. The story ends with the young man purposefully leaving his mother in a room for several days, coming back and finding her dead. "The Washer" is about a window cleaner whose daughter gets taken advantage of by a president of a company, leaving her pregnant and alone. "Beloved Monkey" is about a factory worker whose pet monkey, depressed being kept in a small flat all day, is released into a monkey enclosure at a zoo and is torn to pieces by the other monkeys. The factory worker gets his arm ripped off and loses the severance money to a prostitute. "Unpaid" features a bankrupt old man whose crushing debt and personal unhappiness leads him to spend time with a well bred dog whose teeth have been pulled out. In a shocking sequence, the two thrash about in a frenzy of misery. "The Hole" features a young woman whose body has been ravaged by plastic surgery gone wrong and gets her revenge on men, one man at a time, keeping them in a hole until they die. I love Tatsumi's work but having read a summary of just some of the stories here, my, aren't they bleak? I was left feeling really depressed when I finished the book. Nearly everybody in the book is wronged somehow and undergoes crushing misery without respite. The storytelling and artwork is more confident and shows Tatsumi's skill as an artist that despite the sorrowful tone throughout that he mesmerises the reader with compelling stories. Definitely not for those looking for a pick me up, but a brilliant comic book nonetheless. A great read if emotionally exhausting.


This is probably the godfather of such graphic novels as "Watchmen". Well, maybe it's more of a drunken great uncle that used to work for Disney but then things started to come out about what he does on the weekend, where he goes, which stores he is seen going into, that kind of thing. My wife picked this up for me on a library trip (we've stopped buying books, that economy will get ya!) and I really enjoy the deep human emotion mixed with that intrinsic messed up-ness that I have come to identify with Japanese city culture. You know, the whole peeing on the street is legal if you're discreet about it and you're wearing a suit. But try it looking like a motorcycle punk and you're likely to spend the night in a cell...with no phone call. Written in the 60's and 70's this is a very grim portrayal of what happens when the human soul is subjugated to the needs of a growing economy. Success at all costs costs all. It's not as pithy as it sounded in my head but the idea is there.


I'm a relative newcomer to a lot of comic books and graphic novels so I can't really comment on how this fits in with the whole genre. However, this collection of short stories is really excellent. Perhaps the most eye-opening thing for me was the society portrayed. We tend to think of Japan in it's most modern incarnation but these stories point to a period after the war where Japan was at a very interesting point in terms of deciding it's identity. The stories are extremely elegant - an emotion or narrative thread conjured up within a single frame. A lot of this is due to the beautiful subtlety of the drawings. The fact that they are all in black and white also contributes to a feeling of drabness and sleaziness that brilliantly conveys the underbelly of Japanese society. It's impossible to sum up the narrative of any of these stories without doing them some discredit - they are too subtle and too much is conveyed in the intersection between the drawings and the words. It reminds me slightly of other Japanese novels I have read where as much is summed up by what is not said as by what is. Definitely recommended.


I found this in Greenlight Bookstore and thought it looked interesting. This series of graphic short stories seem to be connected by a similar character - a man lost in society. These male characters all have feelings, urges, dreams and all but somehow they always seem to come up short. It is only through the unexpected chance that they find anything that takes them away from their daily misery. What takes them away is not the women in their lives: the mothers are whores; the girlfriends, fiancees and wives are all disappointed in the men and constantly nag them. What they find momentarily is a life away from what they've known. For one man that is nude images on the wall of a public toilet (the stories are set in post-war Japan and are much more innocent than a more contemporary story might be. The author notes in an interview at the end of the book that he depicts Japanese life as it really was but his graphic art was not a normal theme of that time.

Emilia P

In fine form, Tatsumi. A little bit less completely bleak and more satisfyingly narrative than The Push Man, worked in some feelings about art and family in along with the regular sexual messy barfing drunk stuff. In some ways, one could say he's got a very bleak view of Japanese post-war life, but in some ways, it comes off also as just a very humanizing effort. Everyone is flawed and flailing, everywhere. Tatsumi can't forget it, and neither should we I suppose. Also, the more I read of him the more I love his drawing style, more relaxed and more detailed and more emotional than the other great manga that I like. Very much his own. Yay.

Northern K Sunderland

Yoshihiro Tatsumi single handedly spear headed the underground comic movement in Japan. In fact, he was really the only artist of his kind for roughly forty years. He never knew of R. Crumb or Art Speiglman until relatively recently, interestingly enough.As for the book, it's just as uncomfortably voyeuristic and tragic as his other works. Like The Push man, this includes an interview with Yoshihiro by Adrian Tomine.


Dude. Dark.


This installment was another great one with art that you just had to sit and drool over for a moment before getting on with the stories. it was certainly on par with the last one beyond that a lot of these stories were more involved and deeper. a few took a bit of time to fully sink in...The title story was, I think, the most disturbing. I think the main thing about these stories is that they don't just -think- about doing something, they go ahead and do it. maybe many people would consider putting their invalid parents in a nursing home or anywhere where they didn't have to deal with it, but to do that? yes, apparently he had regret over what he went and did, but... I just found it unforgiveable. yes, his mother is not mine and she did some things worth the guy's rage, but... I did love the parallels between his situation with his mother and the flashbacks to things his fiancee said. it does show what goes through the mind of someone with deep-seated issues. maybe he could've benefitted from EFT? hah!'Occupied' was my second favourite. I just liked how determined the guy looked as he scrawled his own graffiti... in the wrong bathroom! I think the turn of events were most clever... I also like how it brings to mind how one's health can get screwed up when in the wrong field / way of life. if what you're doing makes you physically ill, you should leave it regardless if the new avenue of inspiration comes in a rather... perverse manner. I'm sure he'll find better ways to work it out next time.. hah!Oh! in the Q&A session at the end, when he says, "Do you see why my protagonists couldn't possibly be handsome?" well, honestly? I didn't find them to be half bad. really, I found the president sleeping with his secretary in 'The Washer' to be the real ugly one! also, I can't say the guy in 'Unpaid' was that attractive either. I found the identical looking characters in the various other stories to at least have a clean look.I reallly can't wait till the next one. my only fault is how quick the read is... even with all the stopping for admiration over the art!

Artur Coelho

Marcadamente pessoal, o manga de Yoshihiro Tatsumi faz-nos olhar para um Japão longe da iconografia oficial, que não o país de curiosos costumes, cultura fascinante e intricância de alta tecnologia com tradição. Sob o olhar do desenhador, mergulhamos em locais solitários de vidas perdidas, seguimos indivíduos incapazes de enfrentar a dissolução da alma em horizontes estreitos. A simplicidade do traço é enganadora. Estas não são histórias simples para entreter, mas viscerais reflexões sobre a solidão humana.


I picked up this book while searching (fruitlessly as it turned out) for another book by a different author. I was very, very impressed by both the artwork and the storytelling. In fact I liked it so much, that I lent it to someone in my office whose tastes overlap much of my own.But I am shocked to find that not only did I read it before (according to my Goodreads log), but that I did not write anything about it! I guess I was both lazy and artless in those days.The most troubling thing is that there was no sensation of having seen the drawings or the plots before. Wow. I guess my mind is slipping away.But the book, a collection of powerfully drawn and written manga from an alternative Japanese artist, is something that I do strongly recommend. While some may not find the artwork "compelling" or very intricate, the figures and backgrounds are there to push the story forward, as most good graphic tales do. The author draws his protagonists in fairly plain and similar fashion for each tale, but that does not detract from the way it captures our attention and holds it firmly.There are eight different tales in this collection along with an introduction and interview with the artist. It is the middle book in a three part series of his work. I have not seen the other two volumes. I will look for them, though.Years ago, I gave this book a "4" and it deserves that or even a "4.5". You will not find many books from the 70's that have such strong and well-crafted stories. I can't you will enjoy this book, as the tales are not at all happy or light-hearted, but you will be impressed.

Titis Wardhana

Depressing...Di sini ada 8 cerita tentang kehidupan sehari-hari para pekerja di jepang en semuanya suram...-Occupied: seorang penulis cerita anak yang hasil karyanya sudah tidak disukai, dan kemudian beralih profesi jadi penulis di majalah dewasa.-Abandon the old in tokyo: pembersih sampah yg tinggal dengan ibunya yang lumpuh dan suka mengeluh.-The washer: pembersih kaca gedung yang melihat putrinya punya affair dengan bosnya.-Beloved monkey: seorang karyawan yg monyet peliharaannya selalu memunggungi tuannya kalo dia pulang.-Unpaid: bos yang perusahaannya bangkrut dan gak bisa bayar utang.-The hole: seorang pria yang jatuh ke lobang tapi wanita yang menemukannya tidak mau menolong.-Forked road: karyawan yang syok melihat ortu temennya lg berhubungan.-Eel: pekerja yang istrinya keguguran kemudian meninggalkannya.semua karakternya bitter, gloomy, pandangan matanya hampa, en yg sudah beristri, istrinya pada nyebelin :p...


Tatsumi is a master of the ordinary evil.


A classic must-read for lovahs of the graphic novel format. Tatsumi's 1970s gekiga (dramatic, more realistic cartooning) are presented stunningly in this volume edited by Adrian Tomine. Fascinating, depressing, shocking. The sexual perversities portrayed here rocked me so hard I had to stop reading it. Still, this isn't your average depiction of Japan, and the stories are beautifully told, which I totally appreciate.


Individual Stories were understandable, but jumped around too much. There was difficulty in understanding who was whom. Faces were practically near similar and stories intertwined. Would have made more sense as a movie or a book rather than as a graphic novel. Plus it wasn't my kind of read, but it definitely did pass the time away. very simple to flip through.

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