Another pick-up from my "I have a headcold and therefore this seems like a good idea" library visit so there's no real reason I read this particular book. No reviews, no word of mouth, just going in blind and hoping it was a good choice. And apologies that this is up a day late, school continues to eat up a lot of my time, especially on weekends these days.
Ichiro by Ryan Izana
Summary: Ichiro is a half-Japanese American who was born and raised in Brooklyn by his mom after his dad died when he was young. A rather average kid he's taking the news that he and his mom are moving to Japan for her teaching job pretty well although he doesn't know much about his heritage. He's skeptical of some of the myths and stories his grandfather has to tell but learns first hand that some stories have more truth in them than others.
The Good: Based on the book blurb I thought there would be a lot of conflict between Ichiro and his grandfather or Ichiro and Japanese ways in general, neither of which happened and I was happy to see that that author didn't take the easy way out when it came to setting up conflict. Ichiro has a fairly good relationship with both of his grandparents (one of whom seems like a bigot and one who was fine with his daughter marrying an American, I can't remember the last time I didn't see a character like that used as conflict in a story) as well as his mother so it was nice to see that the overall conflict was more internal (well, minus the part where he's thrown into another world). And it was nice to see the characters talk about war and how it's often a complex thing, especially given all the stuff that happened/was done by Japan in World War II which is brought up.
The Bad: I didn't like Ichiro for most of the story because, for a bit of a dumb reason, he reminded me a lot of my brother when he was younger and how he would blindly believe these (obviously crazy to everyone else) ideas and that was frustrating enough to live with, I certainly don't want to be reminded of that in a book. On the flip side I this does makes Ichiro a rather realistic young teen, just the kind where you wait a few years and hope that they eventually grow up. Other than that, I was rather frustrated that in the end the tanuki, which had a lot of time devoted to it, was nothing more than a plot device and one that was tossed aside once it was used. It was also frustrating to see how a lot of things went unresolved by the end. Ichiro has grown as a character and his character growth is resolved, that I had no trouble with, but it seemed like the story set up another conflict and then only used it as a background, not even a metaphor, and that frustrated me. I'm fairly sure that this story is completed at just one volume, it feels completed in every other way, but I would have loved to that background to have gotten it's own story.
The Art: The book is in color and rather cleverly used different color schemes to differentiate between different places (and to indicate if the characters were speaking Japanese or English instead of having the readers try to guess which language). It's fairly monochromatic as a result but different colors for different places, although I have no idea why the prologue, which has very little to do with the rest of the story, is in full color.
So, not a great choice but the story had some nice parts to it. But man, I would have loved a story about how the gods had changed and grown since the myths were made, I wonder if I could find a story like that actually.....