For Peter Carey, a trip to Japan with his twelve-year-old son Charley would be a unique opportunity to share and learn something about his son's passion for Japanese comics and animated film.
Convinced that there is 'a whole history and culture hidden between the frames', Carey hopes that this journey will help him to break the skin of Japanese culture. Charley, on the other hand, simply wants to buy cool manga. Either way, Carey looks forward to forging some indelible memories with his thoughtful, reticent son. And while some of the memories they create are not those that Carey might have wished for - such as Charley's ill-concealed boredom when forced to sit through four hours of traditional Japanese theatre, and Carey's own less-than-joyful reaction to Sega World - nonetheless it's an unforgettable and precious time, a time Carey considers a privilege, most especially for the pleasure of sharing his son's enchanted response to the adventure.
Novelist Carey is a two-time Booker Prize winner (Oscar and Lucinda; True History of the Kelly Gang), and although his latest work is presented as nonfiction, his fiction readers won't be disappointed. This travel diary reads like a scintillating novella, and Carey has, in fact, added his own fictional embellishments to the real-life events he reports. After his shy 12-year-old son, Charley, began reading English translations of Japanese manga, their Saturday mornings at the Manhattan comic book store Forbidden Planet spurred Carey's own interest. As their "cultural investigation" of manga and anime widened, "the kid who would never talk in class was now brimming with new ideas he wasn't shy to discuss." This father-son bond deepened when they flew to Japan to meet manga artists and anime directors, including Yoshiyuki Tomino (Mobile Suit Gundam). At publisher Kodansha, they learned of manga's history, and touring Studio Ghibli, they encountered the "most famous anime director in the world," Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away). Their guide to Tokyo's cartoon culture was Takashi, a teenager the narrative says Charley met online (yet, as Carey revealed in a newspaper interview, he created the imaginary character of Takashi because the narrative needed conflict, and Carey wanted to avoid "conflict with anybody in real life"). Carey's fluid and engaging writing style gets a boost from 25 energetic b&w anime/manga illustrations.