A Distant Neighborhood covers the story of middle aged Hiroshi Nakahara who ends up revisiting his hometown after boarding the wrong train. As a father and husband, he is fed up with his life, and wants to change. So when he finds himself reliving his past as a 14 year old. He sets out on a two volume journey of self-discovery, believing he can change his past for good or bad. You can read this series, and wonder just how much ripple or the Butterfly Effect can occur.
The black and white art detailing of Taniguchi is exquisite, and precise, comparable to Monet or detailed elaborate drawings. Aesthetically his art is pleasing to my eye, so I would have bias in that aspect. Though in this story, I was more focused on the storytelling. Other than staring at Hiroshi’s face a lot, unlike The Walking Man, you don’t see much of the background, though there are subtle messages to enjoy or compare what is in your own life.
A Distant Neighborhood was told in a easy to comprehend linear fashion of the character’s own experiences, flashbacks and definitely necessitates looking back onto volume 1, if you finished reading volume 2. When volume 2 ended, I was slightly hopeful for a continuation, since there were some faces I wanted to see as aged as Hiroshi was.
What I can see was that Hiroshi became mindful of his own family and his own life. Obviously, unlike many time traveling stories I have seen, no one, save for the individual and one person realizes what has happened, and the time has not changed as much. As I read A Distant Neighborhood yesterday, it was St. Patrick’s day, and to see Hiroshi down alcohol several time throughout the book, and obviously get drunk. It makes a person think.. and compare, just how much an individual has to acclimate to alcohol, and probably go on with their life. Certainly it is bad for the liver, however with today’s drinking culture, it is a social function.
Taniguchi has been for me a great mangaka to go and read if a reader wants to just appreciate the steadfast pace of real life and while, paper/story can definitely not replace real life. It helps as a paced read as you immense yourself into the story. It is quite different from stories that are featured by other manga publishers like the main imprints of Viz, Yen or Kodansha with their YA series. It helps deepen the reputation that graphic novels are often not meant as just a children’s read, and can be seen as a reputable art form.
I plan to write at least a couple more reviews on Jiro Taniguchi this week for MMF, so if you want to check out other essays, take a look here.