劇画漂流 (A Drifting Life)
Author: 辰巳ヨシヒロ (Yoshihiro Tatsumi) (2008)
jusco’s Rating: ★★1/2
Though this acclaimed manga was released in two volumes in Japan, I’ve decided to review it as one whole work. A Drifting Life first caught my attention when the English version was promoted at various bookstores. Upon discovering the praise and acclaim poured on to this epic book by countless critics, I obtained it and prepped myself for a wondrous journey; so, so unfortunate that I found it a huge letdown.
This book is ultimately an autobiography of Yoshihiro Tatsumi himself, an acclaimed manga-ka, though just with a different name. It records his life story, from his humble beginnings of drawing manga for his own enjoyment during childhood post-WWII, and his eventual growth as both a person and manga-ka as his talent is gradually recognised and applauded. With accompanying simple drawings, this sincere story is told in a direct and easy-to-understand manner. The big drawback is this: if you have no interest in this particular subject matter (manga and its history), this book will be extremely boring. Even for myself, a dedicated and avid manga lover, I struggled through it. The first third of the book marks the most engaging and entertaining events, such as his meeting with Osamu Tezuka, but the rest suffers from low-key or repetitive events. There was little to relate with; the emotional connections were desperately lacking. Interestingly, Yoshihiro Tatsumi includes every now and then historical key events to guide the reader along his journey, but if you are unfamiliar with Japanese pop culture, it can prove to be rather confusing. Unless you are an immense manga or history buff, I recommend you look for something else more appealing.