A Distant Neighborhood Book 1

The latest translated manga by Jiro Taniguchi follows a plot familiar to most science fiction fans: a middle-aged business man finds himself reliving his life as a teen, with the potential chance of doing things over, better.

A Distant Neighborhood Book 1 cover
A Distant Neighborhood Book 1
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By mistake, Hiroshi Nakahara gets on the wrong train and finds himself in his home town on the anniversary of his mother’s death. After he visits her grave, he returns to town to discover that he’s become his 14-year-old self. He’s about to enter eighth grade, the year that his father disappeared from his life.

While there’s a strong component of “what if” in this volume, a lot of second chances and different choices, the real appeal is the way the book captures a different time and place, a small Japanese town 40 years ago. That’s 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 fantastic premise becomes solid through the realism of the art.

The pacing will seem sedate to those who already know the premise (which is anyone who’s read anything at all about the book, especially if you need to order it, as most readers will). The first 60 pages simply cover Nakahara traveling back in time and visiting again with his family, relishing the comfort of home he’d forgotten. He’s a very easy-going protagonist, spending his time looking around, pondering, and remembering. That’s the appeal of this book and the artist’s style: reflection.

When Nakahara goes to school, we’re introduced to a bunch of fellow students as he thinks about how they ended up years later. He’s beginning to accept what’s happened to him and even enjoy it, and the chapters become moments in the life of a schoolboy: sports, girls, classes, smoking, fighting, sneaking alcohol.

This isn’t the complete story — book two is due in the fall. I mention that because many of the questions Nakahara asks himself, including the core ones of the reasons for his father’s disappearance and whether the past can be changed, are raised but not resolved in this book.

A PDF for this review was provided by the publisher. Preview pages are available at their website. Note that although Amazon has it listed for June, it’s actually going to be August, due to making sure the printer does the job the work deserves.

Similar Posts: A Distant Neighborhood Book 2 § *Yotsuba&! Book 12 — Recommended § Voices of a Distant Star § *Chi’s Sweet Home Book 2 — Recommended § Flock of Angels Book 3

8 Comments

  1. [...] and Read!) Connie on vol. 11 of Crimson Hero (Slightly Biased Manga) Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 1 of A Distant Neighborhood (Comics Worth Reading) Johanna Draper Carlson on vol. 9 of Emma (Comics Worth Reading) Emily on Koi [...]

  2. Drew Thomas

    Any similarities to ‘Too Cool to be Forgotten’, other than the reliving of high school?

  3. mmm… I’d say no. The character types and tone and premise (other than the obvious) are all pretty different. Possibly due to the cultural differences of the artists.

  4. [...] on my must-visit list was Fanfare/Ponent Mon, where I was able to pick up the second volume of A Distant Neighborhood, sent in specially to debut at the show. Jiro Taniguchi’s art always astounds me in its [...]

  5. [...] miraculous circumstances that show him his own flaws and shortcomings. Johanna previously reviewed volume one. A Distant Neighborhood Book 2 [...]

  6. [...] A Distant Neighborhood Book 1 (JUN10 0995) and Book 2 (JUN10 0996) are available again from Fanfare/Ponent Mon at $23 each. They’re charming fantasies about using adult maturity to better understand the milestones of youth, accomplished by a salaryman getting a chance to relive part of his childhood. A Distant NeighborhoodBook 2Buy this book [...]

  7. [...] 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 Tokyo. I’d tell [...]

  8. [...] 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 title The Lonely Gourmet, [...]

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