In a stunning memoir-cum-travelogue Peter Carey charts this journey, inspired by Charley's passion for Japanese Manga and anime, and explores his own resulting re-evaluation of Japan. Although graphically violent and disturbing, the two mediums are both inherently concerned with Japan's rich history and heritage, and hold a huge popular appeal that crosses the generations.
Led by their adolescent guide Takashi, an uncanny mix of generosity and derision, father and son look for the hidden puzzles and meanings, searching, often with comic results, for a greater understanding of these art forms, and for what they come to refer to as their own 'real Japan'. From Manhattan to Tokyo, Commodore Perry to Godzilla, kabuki theatre to the post-war robot craze, Wrong about Japan is a fascinatingly personal, witty and moving exploration of two very different cultures.
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.