COMIC ESSAYS (コミックエッセイ), or in other terms ESSAY MANGA (エッセイ漫画), are basically non-fictional works based on occurred events and happenings out of the life of the writer/illustrator as well as related thoughts and impressions, so the definition. In the past few years, comic essays around topics of foreign residents and visitors sharing their experiences they made while in Japan have enjoyed quite some popularity with readers. In fact, the Japanese people are very interested in hearing about outside views and what the world thinks about Japan. They also love stereotypes, of which the international community seems to be plentiful of ;). Following a selection of books I put together that received favorable reviews and I own myself that I would like to recommend to readers with interest in Japan and students of the Japanese language. Illustrations help to understand the context and there are lot of natural and useful expressions along the way, so I think. I haven’t gotten down to read them all yet, nevertheless, I like to list them here. I figure that eventually will get around to catch up on them and give more details via reviews on this blog. Without further ado, here we go:
Nordic Girl Åsa discovers the Mysteries of Japan 1+2
by Åsa Ekström・オーサ・イェークストロム
Get your copy for Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 at AMAZON.JP
Delightful 4-strip manga story about a Swedish cartoonist by the name Åsa, who entertainingly portrays her discoveries and impressions of everyday life in Japan. For my reviews, see here for the first volume (without Furigana) and here for the second volume (with Furigana provided).
Nihonjin no shiranai Nihongo (The Japanese, the Japanese don’t know) 1-4
by Hebizo and Umino Nagiko・蛇蔵, 海野 凪子
Get Vol. 1, Vol. 2, Vol. 3 and Vol. 4 at AMAZON.JP
Very successful comic essay series of actual stories through the eyes of Nagiko-Sensei (なぎこ先生), a female Japanese teacher, telling of her personal experiences about the Japanese language education and exchange between different cultures. (Texts not entirely, but mostly with Furigana)
Everything I know about Japan I learned from Manga and Video Games
by Benjamin Boas・ベンジャミン ボアズ
Get your copy at AMAZON.JP
Like for many other fans of Japan, also for Benjamin everything started with its unique pop-culture. This essay manga brings readers closer to Benjamin’s story, how it all began for his fondness of the country and what COOL JAPAN means to him and like-minded fellows. It is humorously written and nicely illustrated. (With Furigana)
I hope I will be able to add more book titles on this and other categories in the time to come. If you had the chance to pick up a copy from either a bookstore or an online shop, it would be great, if you could drop a comment here to share your views on the book(s). For people outside of Japan I usually recommend to source via AMAZON.JP for various reasons. First and foremost, some of the titles will likely never be published or be available outside of Japan. Another is that competent and kind English support is provided. Plus, in case of any defects or deficiencies with the order through Amazon, buyers are better protected and compensation available. Regular stores or the so called shopping agents (proxy), perhaps cheaper in price, might not offer the same service consistency and support. I obtain all my books this way and I can only speak of positive experiences. Hopefully this is helpful for you, enjoy reading Japanese!