Monday, May 25, 2009

Hitoshi Ashinano is still crazy

More than two years since Yokohama Shopping Diary wrapped up, Hitoshi Ashinano finally publishes a new book. It actually appears to have come out in October and I totally missed it, but it was in the new release section at Kinokuniya this week, so I snatched it up. I'm still wondering when the hell he's going to figure out a way to collect the chapters he did for Position before Afternoon Special got canceled, but pretty much anything he writes is more or less the same sort of thing.
But this time things focus on a boy flying an airplane (in the exact same comfortably peaceful post-apocalyptic world) and getting flying lessons from the two sisters who actually own the plane. There is some deep seated madness like landing on a giant leaf or flying the plane onto a hook hanging out of a massive airship, but as usually, he seems to be equally fascinated by hazily drawn vistas, and oddball moments of character nuance that make them seem like real people even though all three characters are pretty much exactly the same as the robot and two kids in his previous series.
I feel like I've developed a deep seated cynicism over the years that makes it harder for me to enjoy a book so purely about tone, and that's clearly seeping into my writing, but I was pleased to find that reading the book made me forget to be cynical for an while. It's probably a necessary antidote to most of the rest of what I read and do.

Wait, there's a Yokohama Shopping Diary novel? How is that even possible?


  1. I was reading a little bit of it in Afternoon, but I never made the connection b/w it and his other works. I see that the first tank recently got released huh? Sounds interesting.

  2. I adored Yokohama Shopping Diary but for all the subtle hints at a greater story arc involving the origin of the robots and what their ultimate purpose may have been, we got very little closure on any of it. I think you hit the nail on the head when you suggest that this author's books are almost entirely about tone and that story is only present sp the pretty pictures and lifestyle dialogue has some kind of context.

  3. Late, I know, but I was looking for the spelling of Ashinano when I came across this post. For the record: I think the story is present both for context and to provide a tease - something to keep you waiting to see what, if anything, is going to be in next month's Afternoon.

    Like you, I find it difficult to be cynical about Ashinano's work - it is what it is. It does not pander to passing fashion, or anything other than the artist's sense of composition and style. To quote Lincoln: "If you like this sort of thing, then this is the sort of thing you will like."