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‘Tokyo Ghost: Volume 1’ – TPB Review

Life in every breath.

I’m about to review a book about the dangers of technological addiction on a tablet with Bluetooth keyboard, listening to my iPod on the train, because I’d rather not have to hear anyone else while doing reference work on my smartphone.  I have not spoken to anyone save my wife (mostly semi-coherent mumblings of how the baby slept before I headed out the door), and my 20-minute walk to the train was punctuated by a motorist and a pedestrian yelling at each other on the street over who had the right of way/who was speeding.  In all of this, I find the dystopian future that opens Tokyo Ghost, and I see how easy it would be for us as a society to continue to pursue the ease of tech without the thought of the consequence.  We are shown the idea of Google Glass run amok, with every person abdicating from the real world in favor of the virtual one, ignoring the stink of the physical for the slick, porn-like quality of the ethereal computer realm.  There’s a lot of technology that has been introduced that has claimed to be aimed at bringing people together, yet I can point to several examples of a text starting a fight in my life because of what it lacks in tone and form.  Before the advent of the bow and arrow, if you wanted to kill someone, you needed to be up close and personal with them. You’d have to look at them dying, hear the last breath as it struggled to keep the body going just a little bit longer.  There was no separating yourself from the act, and as we’ve found longer-distance ways to misunderstand one another from farther distances, so too have we developed ways to remove the humanity from death.  If you can’t tell, this is a book that will make you think, and it’s pretty kickass, as well.

Rick Remender is our guide in this visit to a dark and horrifying future, where people’s lives and even bodies are aided by technology, every whim is filled at the touch of a button.  In this world one person has remained untouched by the techno-addiction, and she is desperate to keep her boyfriend human enough long enough to get him out of the wasteland of LA and to Japan, where an EMP field keeps tech away,   This is the place where they eventually find themselves, where they may cleanse their bodies and spirits.  Debbie is a fantastic character, one built of strength that cannot hide vulnerability, of single-minded dedication to what is right.  I think the pace of the book is something wonderful. Remender uses it to really impact the reader. In LA, things move very quickly; you’re on an almost breathless pace, where things are happening every second.  Everything shifts once they reach Japan, however. The world slows down in a way that feels soothing after the hectic and bloody chaos.  This is stunningly well-done reinforcement of the themes of the work, and it really pulls you into the world beautifully. I could honestly stay in that perfect place forever, letting the book become a life lesson about learning to engage and be aware of every breath.  There are two ways of engaging the reader: reach out to them with action and content that leaps off the page, or quietly draw them into a world that does not need them, let them engage and bring themselves fully to the world.  This book accomplishes both which is a heck of an undertaking by one team in one story.  Of course, the serene existence cannot last, and the betrayal and pain is visceral and heart wrenching. It affected me more than I expected, which shows just how much you’ll get wrapped up in it.

Sean Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth have created two incredible worlds for us to see.  The squalor and violence of LA is matched in equal tone with the beauty and peace of Japan.  In the former, the action is messy, with bystanders being mowed down by the score.  Human life in that place is as worthless as everything else in the world.  In this setting Debbie’s costume is highly sexualized, with slinky movement and constant attention paid to the amount of exposed skin.  When they get to Japan, the same outfit becomes less provocative and more sensible, though nothing but the location has changed.  There’s even much more nudity in the new setting, but none of it is done for show or lurid purpose. It’s more a reinforcement of the shedding of the unnecessary that our heroes pass through, and there’s a very mature sense of it. Nothing seems embarrassing or cheap; it’s just the human form on display in a very natural and open way.  When it comes to the settings…my god can this pair make a vista.  There’s not a scene in Japan that I wouldn’t consider wall-worthy. The subtlety and detail of the scenes is incredible.  Each panel completely works with the script, and though I’m more focused on the splendor of the green world, the attention to detail and precision is still evident in LA, though it hurts to look on it once having seen the alternative.

This is a work that is built in a very Eastern way, where the focus is very narrow, but the depth is incredible.  If you’ve ever been a fan of Kirasawa or the works of Studio Ghibli and have an appreciation for a tale told with wit and exceptional maturity, this is the adult adventure that you’ve been looking for.  With tense action balanced with the peace of life, this is a rollercoaster that I’d be happy to ride any time.

Share the stories that move you.

Erik Cheski, Fanbase Press Contributor



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