Publisher, Date:
Minneapolis, MN : Pliant Press 2008.
115 p. : chiefly ill. ; 22 cm.
Daniel Wells working as an assistant teacher is the only American in the Japanese town of Tōnoharu.
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Follows the adventures of American Daniel Wells as he begins a new job as an assistant junior high school teacher in Tåonoharu, a rural village in Japan. - (Baker & Taylor)

Daniel Wells begins a new life as an assistant junior high school teacher in the rural Japanese village of Tonoharu. Isolated from those around him by cultural and language barriers, he leads a monastic existence, peppered only by his inept pursuit of the company of a fellow American who lives a couple towns over. But contrary to appearances, Dan isn't the only foreigner to call Tonoharu home. Across town, a group of wealthy European eccentrics are boarding in a one-time Buddhist temple, for reasons that remain obscure to their gossiping neighbors ... Top Shelf is proud to distribute the Xeric Award-winning graphic novel from Lars Martinson! - (Diamond Comics Distributors)

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Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Xeric Award–winner Martinson gives us a fully realized, engaging tale of international alienation. Ivy League grad Dan Wells has arrived in Japan to take his first job ever, assisting in English instruction classes at a small-town junior-high school. In his first months on the job, he faces boredom between classes (not all the Japanese teachers want his assistance, but he has made a contractual agreement to be on site at the school all day, every day), homesickness, the reality that he doesn't readily become a glib Japanese conversationalist, and the rebuffs of other Westerners, who are either better prepared for the foreign experience or so quick to dismiss Japanese culture that they don't engage the existential truth that alienation is more about the foreigner than about the host. Martinson's daintily shaded and cross-hatched panels fit both the setting and Dan's mood. Sly visual puns, particularly surrounding Dan's inability to understand spoken Japanese but clarity about the temperaments of the speakers, spice the otherwise reportorial account. Martinson's highly autobiographical fictional graphic novel conveys the feel as well as the facts of his hero's experience of romanticism confronted by reality. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.

Booklist Reviews

Ivy League grad Dan Wells' alienation during his time teaching English in Japan was shown in 2008's Part One as it related to his status as a foreigner. Here, Dan continues to feel alienated but now it is from the acquaintances he has made, including a few young women and another man. Dan is self-effacing and quiet, in contrast to the other men he meets, and he borders on the melancholy. Martinson does an excellent job of showing Dan's personal world as it becomes increasingly cramped and the winter skies turn dark, but this graphic-novel roman à clef stretches beyond his individual experiences to offer insight into the broader effects of trying to find oneself by going far from home and the known. A good crossover title for those who have had similar experiences to Dan's in their youth or for the many young adults who may be pondering the foreign-teaching route as a way to see the world, though readers should begin with the first book to get the full benefit of Dan's story. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 10 Up—Dan, a depressed and lonely American, is teaching English in Japan. He doesn't really know where he stands in a relationship with an American girl, Constance. After a confusing end to the evening after a Halloween party, he is even more despondent. He goes to work every day and feels laughed at by his students and spends his afternoons in a dump of an apartment with maybe an errand to the store. One day before Christmas, he receives a phone call from Constance asking him to join her at a local establishment. He agrees and is more confused when she arrives with the man she left the Halloween party with. The story continues with Dan continually confronting uncomfortable social situations and cultural differences, and it ends with hope of a third installment. The simple art features four panels per page in a palette of blue, black, and white, clearly identifying the mood of the story. As the foreigner, Dan appears much whiter then everyone else and never shows any facial emotion. While this story does a good job of representing a stranger in a strange land, it also accurately represents how outsiders may view the Japanese culture in this kind of setting. A graphic novel more suited for older audiences due to the language and a few sex scenes, this is an additional purchase for most YA collections.—Jessica Lorentz Smith, Bend Senior High School, OR

[Page 191]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


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