Publisher: Viz Media
Mangaka: Taiyo Matsumoto
Lettering: Deron Bennett
Taiyo Matsumoto is a legend at this point in his career. Matsumoto has even solidified himself as a household name in Western comics with two Eisner awards. Following up on Cats of the Louvre is no small task, but Tokyo These Days‘ first volume does more than enough to prove that this series is a worthy successor.
Tokyo These Days opens with the sudden retirement of Kazuo Shiozawa, a respected manga editor. Shiozawa is immediately a character who is easy to empathize with. Full of regret and fatigue, Shiozawa feels like retirement is his only real option at this point in his career. Its easy to root for him and want to follow his retirement, but Matsumoto wastes no time surrounding Shiozawa with a strong supporting cast.
Every new character brings just as much to Tokyo These Days as the last, and before the reader knows it, they are emotionally invested in everyone. A mangaka who doesn’t have the spark that makes him special anymore struggles with the advice of his now-former editor. Another editor struggles with managing an unruly mangaka who wants to work with Shiozawa and nobody else. All three of these supporting characters are masterclasses in character development, as they are dynamic and flawed.
Tokyo These Days brings all of the emotions and feels human. Matsumoto’s art style certainly isn’t for everyone, but it works incredibly well for slow stories that don’t feature tons of movement. The lines are messy, almost in a sketched way that adds humanity to the characters and their situations. The characters vary in level of expression, but for the most part, the emotions are read in the words and not the faces. Body language plays a big role in this story, and Matsumoto’s framing throughout the pages gives every pose the attention it deserves. Most slice-of-life stories rely on larger-than-life drawings to showcase expressions and emotions, but that isn’t the case here. Two characters have bigger movements than the rest, but this is a muted book where again, the words take center stage.
This is only the first of three volumes, meaning there is still plenty of life to explore. Those who are into character studies will love Matsumoto’s latest work and anxiously await the next chapter. The anxiety isn’t because of any kind of cliffhanger, but it’s easy to just want the best for these characters. Anyone who loves sitting back, drinking their coffee, and watching the mundane lives of humans will want to pick up Tokyo These Days Volume 1.
Tokyo These Days Vol 1
- Every character feels fully developed already
- Excellent framing to make the most of every moment
- Slow pace isn't for everyone