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Previous winner of two Booker Prizes, Peter Carey expands his extraordinary achievement with each new novel — but now gives us something entirely different. When famously shy Charley Carey becomes obsessed with Japanese manga and anime, Peter is not only delighted for his son, but entranced himself. Thus, with a father sharing his twelve-year-old’s exotic comic books, begins a journey that will lead them both to Tokyo, where a strange Japanese boy will become both their guide and judge. The visitors quickly plunge deep into the lanes of Shitimachi — into the “weird stuff” of modern Japan — meeting manga artists and anime directors, “visualists” who painstakingly impersonate cartoons, and solitary “otakus” who lead a computerized existence. What emerges from these encounters is a pithy, far-ranging study of history and culture both high and low — from samurai to salaryman, from kabuki theatre to the post-war robot craze. Peter Carey’s observations are provocative, even though his hosts often point out, politely, that he is wrong about Japan. In adventures that are comic, surprising, and ultimately moving, father and son cope with and learn from each other in a place far from home.“No Real Japan,” said Charley. “You’ve got to promise. No temples. No museums.”“What could we do?”“We could buy cool manga.”“There’ll be no English translations.”“I don’t care. I’d eat raw fish.”—excerpt from Wrong About JapanFrom the Hardcover edition.
Published: Random House Publishing Group on Nov 1, 2004
ISBN: 9780307368676
List price: $17.00
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The book, an account of a father-son trip to Japan, to learn about the origins and creation of manga and anime, is really a book about the mysteries of taste. The father appreciates literature and high culture and tries very hard to appreciate his son's taste for Japanese popular culture. The teen-aged son reads out of duty. not pleasure, rebels against museum attendance, and tries hard not to be embarrassed by his father'd earnestness. The parent-child divide is only exacerbated by the language divide and the cultural divide as they make their way around Tokyo. The imnplicit question is: How do you get another person to appreciate what you think is worth appreciating?read more
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Journal entry 1 by SKingList from New York, New York USA on Friday, November 25, 2005Not as much of an anime/manga fan as some visitors to Japan are, but I was given this book and I'm quite enjoying it. Will probably pass it on to Nicole when I am done for her to read and share if she wishes and/or hasn't read it yet.Journal entry 2 by SKingList from New York, New York USA on Saturday, December 03, 2005Found this to be an interesting and readable book, not too much OD on the manga/anime for those of us who aren't die hard fans, but enough to pique the interest. Kind of makes me want to read some manga, but we'll see.read more
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I love this book. Interestingly this book is very similar to 30 Days in Sydney, but it works for me, and the other doesn't, not quite. Perhaps I am more fascinated by Japanese culture than Australian culture than I realize, or perhaps because Carey knows too much about Australia so he hasn't done it justice because he assumes the rest of us are interested in his country the same way he is, and on the other hand his ignorance about Japan is more aligned with everyone else's that in turn Wrong about Japan is easier to grasp - I don't know - but I like one more than the other.This book is funny, and very quick to read. I particularly love the part about My Neighbour Totoro. It tells me more about it that merely watching it doesn't tell me.Excerpts: "Kakuki," I said, "is like the manga of its time.""No it isn't.""Then go to sleep." (66)"You will never meet Mr. Miyazaki," Takashi said sternly. "...Mr. Miyazaki is more difficult to meet than Walt Disney.""Takashi," I said, "Walt Disney is dead.""His point," said Charley.This book makes me laugh.read more
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The book, an account of a father-son trip to Japan, to learn about the origins and creation of manga and anime, is really a book about the mysteries of taste. The father appreciates literature and high culture and tries very hard to appreciate his son's taste for Japanese popular culture. The teen-aged son reads out of duty. not pleasure, rebels against museum attendance, and tries hard not to be embarrassed by his father'd earnestness. The parent-child divide is only exacerbated by the language divide and the cultural divide as they make their way around Tokyo. The imnplicit question is: How do you get another person to appreciate what you think is worth appreciating?
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Journal entry 1 by SKingList from New York, New York USA on Friday, November 25, 2005Not as much of an anime/manga fan as some visitors to Japan are, but I was given this book and I'm quite enjoying it. Will probably pass it on to Nicole when I am done for her to read and share if she wishes and/or hasn't read it yet.Journal entry 2 by SKingList from New York, New York USA on Saturday, December 03, 2005Found this to be an interesting and readable book, not too much OD on the manga/anime for those of us who aren't die hard fans, but enough to pique the interest. Kind of makes me want to read some manga, but we'll see.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
I love this book. Interestingly this book is very similar to 30 Days in Sydney, but it works for me, and the other doesn't, not quite. Perhaps I am more fascinated by Japanese culture than Australian culture than I realize, or perhaps because Carey knows too much about Australia so he hasn't done it justice because he assumes the rest of us are interested in his country the same way he is, and on the other hand his ignorance about Japan is more aligned with everyone else's that in turn Wrong about Japan is easier to grasp - I don't know - but I like one more than the other.This book is funny, and very quick to read. I particularly love the part about My Neighbour Totoro. It tells me more about it that merely watching it doesn't tell me.Excerpts: "Kakuki," I said, "is like the manga of its time.""No it isn't.""Then go to sleep." (66)"You will never meet Mr. Miyazaki," Takashi said sternly. "...Mr. Miyazaki is more difficult to meet than Walt Disney.""Takashi," I said, "Walt Disney is dead.""His point," said Charley.This book makes me laugh.
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This is a great little book about dads and sons, travel, and our desire to exoticize other places, in this case Japan. Carey does a great job showing his own desire to see things through the exoticizing lense, and admitting he's wrong. He also captures very nicely traveling with a 12 year old.
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Very boring and annoying. The writer is more interested in his own theories than in what is actually there.
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an account of peter carey's trip to japan with his 12-year-old son to explore the world of japanese anime and manga.

it seems that all peter carey found in japan is disappointment and irritation. this would be fine, if he could turn those findings into an interesting book with any sort of insight. when i wasn't waiting for him to really get into it, i was busy being irritated and offended. (also annoyed with the translation/transliteration errors.)
it seems to me that all of his disappointment comes not from japan itself, but from being told that all of his show-offy theories of the effects of WWII, Commodore Perry, and Hiroshima on anime are all incorrect. he randomly injects long blocks of text from other sources about japan, presumably to give the book some sort of historical depth.
carey admits that he was wrong about japan, as the title suggests, but he also does not take seriously any of the explanations he receives from the japanese he interviews. i got the sense that once he knew he was wrong, he wasn't interested in learning more so he could be right. if he spent less time talking about his theories and examining, or even just depicting, what was actually there, it would have made for a much more interesting book.
i wonder why and how he decided his obviously unfulfilling and disappointing trip would be a topic with enough meat for a 100-something page book.
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