Review: Tokyo These Days by Taiyo Matsumoto [Vol 2]

As a manga reader of some years, I continue to enjoy and relate to Tokyo These Days. I love the eccentric artists waffling back and forth between the realities of marketability and the desire to create their vision. I love the portrayal of older artists who have made necessary compromises, struggling to find their voices again for a passion project. I love the parallel storylines as we follow a relatively new talent repped by a new editor struggling to deal with the burden of success.

Perhaps most of all I love Matsumoto's art. It has a shoegaze quality of a reality not quite in focus. The different techniques used to render different characters say something about the way those characters emotionally interact with the world. Characters who are still struggling to see clearly through the lens of bitterness and confusion are rendered with shaky lines and too much ink. Characters who are figuring things out are drawn in a much sharper focus.

I've seen at least one review that accuses this manga of trying to be too deep, and I would like to address that criticism. It absolutely is trying to be too deep. And that is the point. There is one scene in the manga where an editor berates an artist for doing high-concept, "masturbatory" nonsense that fails to appeal to the mass market. 

Tokyo These Days is a manga about artists who want to be deep but worry that years of making art as a product have robbed them of anything to say. They fear that they may not have had anything to say in the first place. Ironically, perhaps, I find some depth of emotion in expressing that.

Crosspost from my Goodreads


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