Otaku USA Magazine
Tokyo These Days Is More Avant Garde Work from Master Taiyo Matsumoto

Tokyo These Days is a contemplative manga that looks at life, meaning, Tokyo, and the manga business. Kazuo Shiozawa is retiring from his job as an editor in the manga business, after being there for thirty years. He says he is not “valued there,” though there’s also talk that he’s quitting because his magazine folded. He counts how long he’s taken the train and how many days of his life it will add up to. He visits a mangaka he’s known for a long time, and tells the mangaka that his (the mangaka’s) work no longer shines. Why does it no longer shine?

Tokyo These Days takes on both the love of manga and the dislike of the manga business. It shows how people who love manga want to express themselves, but also how commercialism and sales can take away the joy to create. Shiozawa tries to move on from manga, including getting rid of his collection. But then he has to get his collection back, and then he decides he wants to work on manga again. Not for sales. Just because he wants to. Characters come and go, but they all have their own personalities and quirks, even if we don’t get to see much of them.

Creator Taiyo Matsumoto makes unusual manga, and Tokyo These Days fits the bill of avant garde art. It is simple and yet emotional at the same time. It says some things, but leaves other things to be read between the lines. There can be multiple interpretations of Matsumoto’s work, but he always has an atmospheric quality to draw readers in. His artwork in here is mostly stylized in a sketchy way. However, when he draws some scenes from ancient Rome, the artwork turns to a style that’s robust, clear and finessed. Tokyo These Days is three volumes long, offering a relatively short tale, but knowing Matsumoto, it ought to be a strong story. This might be best for manga fans who want something a little different, who want a story to reflect on, and who are already fans of Matsumoto’s work.

Story & Art: Taiyo Matsumoto
Publisher: VIZ Media
Translator: Michael Arias


Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, plus its sequel, Manga Art for Everyone, and the first-of-its-kind manga chalk book Chalk Art Manga, both illustrated by professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.