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

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...


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.


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.

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.


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


I knew nothing about this comic book artist before I borrowed this book from the library, a collection of eight stories from 1970 recently re-published in a beautiful volume by Drawn and Quarterly. Tatsumi calls this work "gekiga" (dramatic pictures), a darker and more realistic form of Japanese manga. The stories are gritty with wonderfully absurd urban scenarios and some lovely inky-black night scenes. I like the style of drawing, which doesn't have the standardized and sickening cuteness that is such a turn-off from Japanese manga in general. I can't say it's changed my life, but it's definitely made me appreciate his talent for capturing subtleties with minimal ink lines.


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.

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.

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.

Jonathan Rimorin

I can see where Adrian Tomine comes from: Tatsumi originates the same urban angst, the aloneness amongst crowds, the heavy silence, the terse sketchlike figures in realistically illustrated settings. What Tatsumi adds is a thwarted sexuality -- stories here equate sex and creativity with coprophilia, bestiality, worshipful misogyny. Unpleasant stuff, but brilliant.


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!


Dude. Dark.


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.


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.


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.

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