From the stack: Tokyo Is My Garden

Let me start by saying that Tokyo Is My Garden (Fanfare/Ponent Mon) has clearly been created with talent and professionalism. It’s attractive to look at, thanks to Frédéric Boilet, and it’s got a readable script by Boilet and Benoît Peeters. It paints a vivid picture of urban life in Tokyo. It’s even got “gray tones” by Jiro Taniguchi, whatever that means.

On the down side, it’s got one of those male protagonists I find grating: the lazy schlub who dates way out of his league. This isn’t always an implausible proposition, but you have to work a lot harder than Boilet and Peeters have to sell it. Maybe that’s my problem rather than a serious flaw in the comic, but we can’t help how we engage a work, and as I’ve tried to draft this review in my head, I keep constructing, not an assessment of the work’s value, but a conversation with a theoretical straight woman friend (TSWF).

So here we go:

TSWF: Who’s that?

ME: (Looking. Grimacing.) Oh, that’s David. He’s from France.

TSWF: Really? That’s kind of… interesting.

ME: (After a moment.) Oh, honey, no.

TSWF: What? It’s just an observation.

ME: It’s a fraught observation.

TSWF: Well, what’s wrong with him?

ME: He’s one of those types that assume things will work out without any effort on his part.

TSWF: What, romantically? Professionally?

ME: In every way. And the worst part is that things do work out for him.

TSWF: Is he dating anyone?

ME: Of course he is. He’s dating this hot fashion publicist named Kimie, who he started dating about five minutes after he got dumped by a hot model.

TSWF: What’s next? Techno enka cabaret singer?

ME: Probably.

TSWF: What does he do for a living?

ME: He claims he’s really a novelist.

TSWF: Has he written anything?

ME: Probably title pages and future reviews of his works.

TSWF: (Snorts.) Ow. Gin burns when it comes out through your nose. What does he really do?

ME: A cognac company is paying him to open up the Japanese market for their brand.

TSWF: That sounds fabulous.

ME: Doesn’t it? But he doesn’t do anything related to that. He dates, and he works at a fish market.

TSWF: Seriously? Like a shop, or one of those warehouse things?

ME: Warehouse things. I’m sure it’s all part of some literary scheme to inform his future prose with the working person’s perspective.

TSWF: So he could be hanging out in clubs and giving people free booze for a living, but he’d rather haul dead fish?

ME: Isn’t that deep?

TSWF: Until you think about it for eight seconds. Can I have his real job?

ME: Me first. Apparently, his boss is coming to Tokyo, and he’s all worried that his Bérnaise train is about to go off the rails.

TSWF: All because he’s never done a lick of the work he’s supposed to be doing. That’s so unfair.

ME: I know! And then he’ll have to go back to France. Can you imagine?

TSWF: God. This economy is cruel.

ME: Don’t worry too much. He got dumped by a beautiful woman only to wind up with a beautiful, smart woman. I’m sure he’ll end up accidentally getting a promotion before his boss goes back to France.

TSWF: Okay, so the down side is he’s a big pile of slack, but at least he’s an extremely lucky pile of slack. A woman could do worse.

ME: Or better. Much, much better.

The end.