*The Walking Man — Recommended

Although manga, The Walking Man is published in a form more typical to collections of art comics, with jacket flaps and thick, crisply white paper. That suits its subject matter well, positioning it to an audience who can appreciate a series of reflective encounters beautifully illustrated. (Also suited to that audience, it’s been flipped, so that it reads left-to-right.)

The Walking Man cover
The Walking Man
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Each chapter covers one of the man’s walks, showing us what he sees. In the first, he’s just moved into a new house, and he introduces himself to the neighborhood, meeting a birdwatcher and adopting a dog who becomes his companion on his journeys. Others take him to the town post office or the library or skinny-dipping or home just as it begins to snow.

It’s an appreciation of the everyday that’s still somewhat unusual in comics, made fresh through the setting of the Japanese suburb, realistic yet foreign. The art style is almost European in its fine line and copious detail. (The man looks to me, a reader of too many superhero comics, rather like Clark Kent with his horn-rimmed glasses and one lock of hair on his forehead. It gave the stories an odd little frisson of contrast, especially when he helps an old lady or interacts with children.)

The full-page image of the man in the crook of a tree, looking out over housetops after rescuing a child’s toy, is the very picture of relaxation. Silent contemplation is the mood of both the protagonist and the reader, leading to a new perception of surroundings. I recommend savoring the chapters over a period of time to better let the moods take full effect. Overall, the book provides a welcome feeling of peace to a world where few take the time to enjoy themselves the way the walking man does.

The publisher’s website has sample pages available, as does this overlooked manga review.

Similar Posts: The Walking Man Reviewed by JE Latosa for the Taniguchi MMF § The Watchmen Era Is Over: Top 20 Graphic Novels Come From Image, Manga § Plastic Man Archives § *Rapunzel’s Revenge — Recommended § *Sorcerers & Secretaries Book 1 — Best of 2006

11 Comments

  1. Bas from the Netherlands

    Impressionistic, almost no text, no plot at all. So people who read manga for action or deep storylines will probably find it boring. This book conveys a feeling of happiness about living today, using your senses, trusting the world and being married. A very different manga but to me, one of the best.

  2. [...] All of the stories are thought-provoking, but the gorgeous thin-line work of Jiro Taniguchi (The Walking Man) is a standout. He tells of an orphan girl, a distant cousin, who’s about to married in the fishing village where his family lives. It’s only an incident in his life but a turning point, a road not taken, in hers. It’s not the only piece the reader is left thinking about long after the book’s covers have been closed. [...]

  3. [...] is the publisher. Fanfare/Ponent Mon has put out some very good translated manga, including The Walking Man and Japan as Viewed by 17 Creators. They’ve also put out some books that they call [...]

  4. [...] checked out this mystery because I adore the detailed thin line art of Jiro Taniguchi (The Walking Man). That’s on display, but the story is nothing to write home about. [...]

  5. [...] Taniguchi’s strength, beautifully detailed art that the reader can get lost in. As in The Walking Man, he uses it to firmly establish the settings his characters move through, which here means the [...]

  6. I liked this book, but I preferred A Distant Neighborhood (by the same mangaka). If I remember right I think The Walking Man had a cameo in that 2 volume series.

    Also one thing I should comment on. I believe this volume is out of print. I bought this manga this year and had to get a used copy off Amazon because I couldn’t find it new at retail price anywhere. I noticed you had this on your recommended list on the side that is not OOP.

  7. Oh, geez, that’s the problem with smaller publishers. I didn’t realize it was out of print. Thanks for pointing that out.

  8. [...] this week. The first, A Zoo in Winter (Fanfare/PonentMon, $23), is the latest by Jiro Taniguichi (The Walking Man, A Distant Neighborhood) available in English. It’s the story of an aspiring artist in 1960s [...]

  9. [...] written by Kusumi Masayuki and illustrated by one of my favorite manga artists, Jiro Taniguchi (The Walking Man, A Distant Neighborhood). The much-missed David Welsh wrote about this series last year under the [...]

  10. [...] work to the English-speaking public. I was fortunate enough to publish him for the first time with The Walking Man in 2004 as the fifth book from the Nouvelle Manga [...]

  11. […] back into print in a 10th anniversary edition hardcover. It’s a great set of stories, a book I’ve long recommended, and now, it’s more affordable than the used prices often asked for […]

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