TamTam Books News

Tuesday, June 22, 2004:

This is probably the closest and truthful document of Japanese everyday life after the war – in fact one at times think it might be a lighter version of an Ozu film. Machiko Hasegawa’s cartoon strip "The Wonderful World of Sazae-san" is an enlightened document of Tokyo family life from 1949 to 1974. The very heart and center of the Showa era so far in a collection of 12 neat little volumes.

The late Ms. Hasegawa’s drawing of the lead character reminds me of Popeye’s Olive Oyl, and she is sort of that jive swinging song fan that is also a goofy but responsible family member of the Isono Family. The jokes are consistently not hysterical, but incredibly charming and insightful of everyday Japanese culture of its time.

I think what is important is that by using the devices of comic book art that was due to various newspapers on a daily basis, Hasegawa caught Japan in the process of getting over a war – as well as preparing for the new dynamic economics of Sony and other companies of that sort.

Unlike all my other recommendations, there is not one thread of ‘cutting edge’ in Hasegawa’s work. But if one wants a documentation of everyday life for an ‘average’ family in Tokyo – trying to better their lives through work, children, and consumerism – one could not find anything better than the cartoons (or manga) of Hasegawa’s "Sazae-san."

Tosh // 9:24 AM

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The wonderful world of TamTam Books by publisher Tosh Berman