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The Walking Man by Jiro Taniguchi

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Cover artwork for The Walking Man by Jiro Taniguchi, published by Fanfare / Ponent Mon

The Walking Man (Aruku Hito)

© Jiro Taniguchi

The Bottom Line

A gorgeous, impossibly detailed graphic novel by a master manga-ka (comics artist), The Walking Man is not your average action or drama-packed Japanese manga. Instead, it's a meditative journey of discovery, as the main character walks, observes and appreciates the rhythms of nature and everyday life around him.

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Pros

  • Gorgeous, exquisitely detailed artwork by a master manga-ka
  • Wistful vignettes of everyday life and acts of simple kindness that will leave a smile on your face
  • A meditative appreciation of nature and life in a Japanese town

Cons

  • While very Japanese in character, it isn't for fans wanting high-energy action stories
  • Not much dialogue, narrative or drama – the story is in the keenly-observed artwork

Description

  • Original Title: Aruku Hito (Japan)
  • Author and Artist: Jiro Taniguchi
  • Publishers: Fanfare / Ponent Mon (US), Kodansha (Japan)
  • ISBN: 84-933409-9-5
  • Cover price: $16.99 US / £9.99 UK
  • Age Rating: OT – Older Teens, Age 16+ for a few non-sexual scenes of male nudity
    More about content ratings
  • Manga Genres:
  • US Publication Date: March 15, 2006
  • Other titles by this creator:
    • The Times of Botchan (Bocchan no Jidai)
    • Hotel Harbor View
    • Ice Age Chronicle of the Earth

Guide Review - The Walking Man by Jiro Taniguchi

In today's 70 mph rush-hour, traffic jam, city streets, wi-fi, multi-tasking world, it's refreshing to be reminded that sometimes, you just gotta stop and smell the roses. Or in the case of Jiro Taniguchi's The Walking Man, just take the dog out for a walk.

This gorgeously-drawn graphic novel is a 90-degree turn off the busy highways of popular shonen manga action stories. Instead of fight scenes and super-deformed characters, this book depicts quiet moments of observation and acts of human kindness.

The main character is a middle-aged salary man who rediscovers the simple pleasures of life as he walks the city streets, mountain paths and grassy open plains of his hometown. Along the way, he meets people of all ages and creatures of all sizes, from birds to stray dogs, school kids, professional career women and senior citizens. And with every step the "walking man" takes, he appreciates the sensory pleasures of being alive.

For example, the man (whose name is never mentioned) climbs a tree to retrieve a toy airplane for some children, and then pauses to enjoy the view from his lofty perch. In another story, he meets a woman who visits a favorite flowering cherry tree so she can lie beneath its branches, resting upon a bed of fallen petals once more.

Dialogue and narration is minimal – the story is told in the amazing illustrations that captures the spirit of nature and impeccably observed facial expressions. Each page you turn will remind you to take a deep breath and slooooow down, kind of like zen meditation, manga-style.

It may not make your heart race, or have you clamoring for the anime version of this comic, but the wistful stories and sensitive artwork of the The Walking Man will definitely leave you with a smile on your face.

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