Paperback, 144 pages
Published December 1st 2015 by Tuttle Publishing
Florent Chavouet, in case you haven’t heard of him before, is a French artist mostly known for his wonderful travel graphic memoir Tokyo on Foot. His art style is approachable and friendly and he has an eye for detail that is translated in the pictures he draws to accompany his observations. Tokyo on Foot was wonderful but I feel like Manabeshima Island Japan is even more so because he spent more time there and got to know the locals enough that their personalities and characteristics are present in the drawings he did of them. The journey is as much through the island as it is between the people who populate the island.
I loved seeing the people come to life, especially the man who runs the tiny/food place and doubles as a priest on some days. The generousity of the Japanese people is truly evident in the way they welcomed Chavouet into their lives and on their island. Chavouet, too, seems a lot more familiar with Japanese people and their way of life than was apparent in Tokyo on Foot. This graphic memoir would be wonderful to bring into classrooms, especially in high schools, to teach not just art I think but culture. So many conversations could arise from this book such as fishing practices, Japanese studies, and diversity. The vivid art combined with the heart that, in my opinion, was missing from Tokyo on Foot makes this graphic novel one you should not miss in 2015. Whether you are a Japanophile or you have the itchy feet without the means to satisfy your travel cravings, Manabeshima Island Japan will let you experience a Japan you won’t be able to on any tour. Strongly recommended.