Imaginative adventure is best when underlined by caring young love.
Johnny Hiro is a busboy whose girlfriend Mayumi is kidnapped by Godzilla in the first story in this book. While racing to her rescue, Johnny’s mind flashes back to previous times he’d faced great injury. It’s that playful awareness that makes this more than just another slacker-starring action tale. Nothing happens as expected, but even in the weirdest event, there’s a sense of reality that stems from the core of the characters. Fighting giant monsters is punctuated with concern over getting back the apartment security deposit, for example.
Fred Chao’s art is wonderful, thin linework with shading for depth and detail for verisimilitude. It’s active and has a great sense of motion, plus a strong sense of place, capturing the craziness of New York City. A lot of it is a love letter to the city and all that can happen there.
Another story in this volume features Johnny having to steal a lobster to get ahead at work. The chase scenes allow for lots of dynamite action leavened with philosophy, plus occasional commentary by a drawn Alton Brown, which tickled me immensely. Johnny and Mayumi also go to the opera, which is interrupted by a samurai attack in the men’s room, and then he’s sent to fix a messed-up order from the fishmonger. Finally, he and Mayumi go to court (only it’s Night Court run by Judge Judy) against their landlord.
Not only did I get amazing cartooning and fun, playful adventure, I even learned some things in terms of how to think about life. You should read this.