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


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.


in Tatsumi's autobiographical A Drifting Life, him and his brother have many conversations about what manga is, and Tatsumi's own experimentation. Tatsumi’s brother’s criticisms can be seen at work here. In The Push Man most stories are 8 pages long, but each panel is packed with significance. Here, the longer stories seem to sometimes languish in their openness. Maybe Tatsumi’s wish to be more cinematic hinders him somewhat, as the stories don’t seem as tight, or even as meaningful. That isn’t to say they are bad stories. He still captures the low-lifes in Tokyo struggling to meld the old with the new. He is a talented artist and writer, who packs his stories with more literary symbolism than any other manga artist I’ve read. These just aren’t as powerful as some of his other work.


Dude. Dark.


my first encounter with tatsumi's gekiga. unremittingly dark gritty stuff which probably sprang from postwar experiences


Here is the clear distinction between manga and gekiga. I have never encountered a gekiga as powerful as this one before. The contrast between the hectic life of Tokyo and the solitude of Tokyoites was beyond words, but the pictures here bared them all.I was so shocked to learn that two of the stories here (one of them was Abandon the Old Tokyo) were first published in a teenage magazine. I, with teenage multiplied by some, found myself torn apart after reading it. I wanted to know how a teenager would have reacted.This book is truly a voice. Worth every single tree cut down to print it.


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.

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.

Michael Scott

Part of the series on Japanese daily life by TATSUMI Yoshihiro that also includes Push Man and Good-Bye, Abandon the Old in Tokyo is a collection of short stories depicting Japan probably just after the war (the dread, the sacrifice of everyday salary men for the sake of re-growing the economy, etc.) The topics included here are drawn as "gekiga" (realistic drama), so by no means "easy"; they also include some of the really eccentric parts of the series.Tatsumi focuses on the lives of working class outcasts, which he depicts in realistic, if slightly edgy and extremely pessimistic, circumstances. The characters seem permanently on the edge of collapse, physical or moral, and usually fall during the first dramatic event. The art is clean, with cartoonish characters but a certain photo quality for the backgrounds. Unfortunately, the stories are based on extreme situations reported by the police or pulp news items, which makes this collection a portrayal of a dystopian Japan. "Abandon the Old in Tokyo", the story that gives the title to this collection, depicts slices from the life of a poor worker who lives with his mother and is pressured into marriage by a young woman. Caught between duty and life, the protagonist begins an internal struggle that pushes each character in an unwanted direction. This is one of the few detailed, slow paced stories in the collection and series.In the other stories this collection, a washed up manga artist rediscovers his passion for art when seeing the smut drawn in a toilet and lands a job in the business, only to be caught by police while decorating a public toilet ("Occupied"). In "The Washer", a window washer observes powerless how white-collar employees sleep with the secretaries and maids, girls like his daughter. In "Beloved Monkey", a poor worker struggles to find himself a place in the society; his life is metaphorically paralleled by the life of his pet monkey. In "Unpaid", an old businessman loses his company and all his savings, and ends up having sex with a dog. In "The Hole", an innocent traveler is trapped and killed by a lunatic, after being betrayed by his fiance; this story reminds me of Kobo Abe's The Woman in the Dunes. In "Forked Road", a boy witnesses two adults having sex and is scarred for life. In "Eel", a cleaner is left by his girlfriend and later commits a gesture equivalent to abandoning hope.The series also includes aspects that are either typically Japanese (or do not have a real correspondent in European and American post-WW2 life). The women are second-class citizens, and are only depicted as either extreme villains (money-grabbers, cheaters, etc.) or target of abuse (typically, sexual harassment or even rape). The topics also include sexual deviation (bestiality), entrapment, capitalist exploitation, collision of social classes, etc.


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.


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!

Yuliani Liputo

Ini graphic novel pertama yang saya baca sampai selesai. Buku ini sampai di tangan saya lewat seorang teman yang berkomentar: betapa menekan dan kelamnya watak manusia yang ditampilkan buku ini. Persis demikian, ceritanya menampilkan sisi kelam manusia dengan cara yang membuat depresi. Imajinasi seksual yang liar dan menyimpang, hidup dalam selubung kepura-puraan. Getir tanpa ampun. Kita ingin menolak tapi sekaligus terpaksa memaklumi. Tokoh ceritanya adalah orang-orang biasa dalam hiruk-pikuk mesin kehidupan megapolitan Tokyo, terasing dari kehidupan sosial dan sentuhan pribadi. Panel-panel komik ini menyoroti potongan adegan-adegan nyata dan imaginatif dari tokoh utamanya. Beberapa gambaran terus melekat dan mengganggu lama setelah komik ini selesai dibaca. Ada delapan cerita dalam buku ini. Dua di antaranya, The Hole dan Unpaid, terasa sangat mengusik, nyaris meracuni. Saya ingin menyarankan jauhi buku ini pada saat-saat depresi. Membacanya membuat Anda kehilangan harapan pada niat baik manusia.

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...


Although I can clearly see that these stories would have been mind-boggling in the 70's, they are much too hopeless and dark for my tastes.


I'm finding that what I want to say will dissuade potential readers of this book. If you're afraid this book will shock you, I can only ask, "Have you read other graphic novels?"While this is a collection of stories, the themes are such that there is an effect of unity such as Joyce attained in DUBLINERS. The lives depicted are stunted. There is generally a protagonist who has surface similarities with any given protagonist in any other story in the collection. Occasionally, this protagonist is not the central character but has a pivotal role in the story.These stories reward re-reading. Things which baffle, at first, become quite clear.This book's design is attractive, with sea-greens and charcoal grays.


Similar to The Push Man in tone and subject matter, although I think this one's introduction probably does the work better justice than Tomine's. I am slightly suspicious that this author has suddenly come into vogue in America, although I understand why. The stories recall the bleak, misanthropic, and deeply masculine works of other hipster favorites such as Bukowski, Crumb, and Kafka. On the other hand, I appreciated the introduction's comments about these works being very Japanese and specific to the cultural and political climate there during the 70's. I think alienation from Japanese society has some very different implications from what it means in the United States. Regardless, these stories are very well-done and it's easy to see why someone like Tomine would be attracted to them. Their profound loneliness and morbidity creep up on you in a subtle, but affecting way. Recommended.

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