July 24, 2009
Tori Miki – Fantagraphics – 2005 – 1 volume
The coincidence of seeing Tori Miki’s interview with Hideo Azuma in the back of Disappearance Diary on the same day I read about him in David Welsh’s article on the Prix Asie was too much. I had to pick up Anywhere But Here. And yes, I really am that compulsive.
There wasn’t much risk involved with picking up this book, to be fair. The novelty value makes it worth the price of admission, and I’d been thinking about getting it for years. It’s a small, 100-page book composed of 9-panel wordless gags that are often baffling, but with a great sense of humor. Each page has the 3×3 grid of panels, and I don’t believe that the strips are linear or related to one another.
The main character (who apparently works in a bookstore, he wears an apron and carries around a duster)… well, he’s just there, and stuff happens to him, or he does stuff. It’s a lot easier to see them than to have me describe them to you, so I’m just going to be lazy for the time being and point you over to the Overlooked Manga Festival article on the book, which has several examples of the strips.
To be fair, there were a lot I didn’t get. But for every one I didn’t get, there was a strip that ended with a blob-monster made of naked men chasing the naked protagonist from a hot spring. Or one that ended with the protagonist falling through a golf sand trap and winding up in an underground civilization that worships a gigantic earthworm. They aren’t real complicated, and probably not nearly as awesome as I’m indicating with my descriptions here, but the book is worth reading.
And I guess sometimes you really just have to examine the comic to get the joke. I just got the joke in one I flipped to randomly, where the protagonist exits a video store and works through a stack of videos of the same man pointing at a plant, feeding a baby, et cetera. I had no clue what was going on here, but I just realized when he’s taking the videos back in the last panel, he’s got a bat in the other hand, and the man in all the videos is the clerk at the store, so… there you go, an Anywhere But Here joke.