Anywhere But Here

    (Fantagraphics, 2005)
™ and © Fantagraphics Books, Inc.

Called “one of the intellectual leaders of Japan’s alternative culture,” the strip cartoonist, screenwriter, essayist, and critic—Tori Miki—is a man of many faces. The foremost researcher on the dubbing of “imported television” in Japan, the influences on Miki’s work are wide–ranging and often (as a consequence) esoteric. The strips collected in Fantagraphic’s Anywhere But Here originally appeared in the popular TV guide/information magazine, TV Bros as nine–panel strips covering a full magazine page. (Normal Japanese strips, like American strips, are only four panels long.)

Miki’s artwork here is simple but expressive, reminiscent of other comedic manga like Crayon Shinchan. The sometimes violent and sexual subject matter and humor, however, are definitely geared at a more adult audience. Anywhere But Here has its share of scatological humor, too, but Miki’s surreal sense of play within the confines of his nine panel display challenge the reader in sophisticated ways: defying what an audience expects and perceives on a two–dimensional page. Examples include a strip about a man shearing a dolphin in mid–air (who promptly dives back into the water) as well as several baffling tales about men growing (clothed and unclothed) like plants out of pots. Definitely recommended for fans of the bizarre and the otaku crowd.

— Shiaw-Ling Lai

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