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The Push Man and Other Stories (Tatsumi's short stories)

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  1,872 ratings  ·  150 reviews
A collection of short stories from the grandfather of Japanese alternative comics.

Legendary cartoonist Yoshihiro Tatsumi is the grandfather of alternative manga for the adult reader. Predating the advent of the literary graphic novel movement in the United States by thirty years, Tatsumi created a library of literary comics that draws parallels with modern prose fiction
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published September 1st 2005 by Drawn and Quarterly (first published 1969)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Boo Hoo for the sad boys.
I know. I know. The postwar generation of Japan. Culturally scarred by the atom bomb. Searching for an identity when the militarist/imperialist tradition has crumbled. Occupied by foreign GIs. Faced with a sexual revolution while still rooted in a resolutely patriarchal culture. Teeming cities. Yes yes yes.

All of that's here, and it's a hell of a lot to face, and I know it's the environment Tatsumi's characters find themselves in, but damn if there doesn't come a point b
A colleague let me borrow this and I'm probably going to have to replace the copy now because I've read and re-read these dystopic little vignettes over and over again and can't stop. Tatsumi's characters strike a similar chord with me that my favorite English-speaking fiends do from drama and fiction (Shakespeare's Iago and Nabokov's Humbert come immediately to mind). Previous reviewers have already pointed out here that these stories tend to revolve around men who feel oppressed by women and h ...more

(More pictures at

Before I read the book, I had no idea who Yoshihiro Tatsumi is. He has been called "the grandfather of Japanese alternative comics" and he certainly deserves it.

The Push Man and Other Stories is a collection of short stories previously published in Japanese, now translated and reformatted for the western audience by Adrain Tomine.

In each story, Yoshihiro Tatsumi looks at a different facet of Japanese society. The main character is always a man filled with restra
May 31, 2010 Vicky rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Vicky by: kev's pushing me to read this
The first few stories gave me a bad impression of what this book might be like. Each story features a working class man who might be a plantation worker, a push man, a projectionist. What made me skeptical was how cold and materialistic the women were in the beginning. The men would be absolutely helpless and act upon fantasies of hurting the women, like hiding a scorpion in a purse or sticking the woman's arm into a tank of piranhas. And then I would be positioned in the protagonist's perspecti ...more
It's telling that every negative review complains about how pessimistic, misanthropic, and dark Tatsumi's stories are. In the neoliberal entertainment society it's highly unwanted to show the other side of prosperity and wealth. In a society that is supposed to honor effort with respect and wealth, the accusation of Tatsumi to be cynical doesn't make sense. His characters work hard, but they fail. Their labor just doesn't pay off. The people believing in the fun society are far more cynical than ...more
An awesome collection of short-stories. Drawn and Quarterly (the publisher) ought to publish more volumes. The interviews at the back of each volume of D+Q Tatsumi books indicate that Tatsumi has an enormous amount of work published over the decades in Japan. I would eagerly sit down and read every single page if only I could.

I'm not sure I can say much about the actual subject matter of this book. The writing and drawing is incredible, and that should be all the prodigious comic book reader sho
Albert Wu
Amazing, disturbing, revolting. Revolutionized the way I look at manga. Yoshihiro's protagonists (dare I call them "heroes?" )are mostly speechless; they're mute observers to the senselessness that surrounds them. Yoshihiro's depiction of post-war Japan is very different from the standard narrative we read in textbooks of the Japanese economic miracle coupled with orderly, conservative social norms. Rather it's one of moral confusion, sexual perversion, and soul-crushing anonymity. For those rea ...more
Joey Dhaumya
Before labeling this as a misogynistic collection, I implore you to consider - is The Push Man and Other Stories misogynistic or misanthropic?

I'm writing my review partly in response to Wes' stellar review. The stories had a male "protagonist" but considering how in most of the stories the character did not speak at all, and we get an "insight" into his mind only through his actions (which culminated to more often than not a sudden outburst of violence or abandonment), it is equally possible to
May 26, 2012 Mike rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
Although this was the first volume of Tatsumi-san's work to be published by Drawn & Quarterly, I read it after re-reading the second volume, "Abandon The Old in Tokyo". The handful (only 16) of stories that appear in each book are dark, trenchant forays into the human psyche. There is nothing lighthearted in any of these tales, but that makes perfect sense when you consider what the artist was trying to accomplish and when he was doing it. No matter what else, they are some of the best stori ...more
Ricardo Baptista
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
A bleak and harsh look at life from different points of view, although the majority seem to have a distrust of women. Not much in the way of happy endings here; still a worthwhile read.
sweet pea
these short vignettes are profiles of urban dystopia. the womyn are universally callous (except for the amazing lover in make-up). the male protagonists' actions are usually a reaction to womyn's power and sexual freedom. the stories cover several disturbing themes (not the least of which is dead babies in the sewer) and are highly engaging. the illustrations are amazingly appealing and narrate the stories well. Tatsumi was one of the first to use manga styles to tell other kinds of stories. i c ...more
Nearly each (very) short story in this collection made me pause for at least a second, forcing myself to empathise more with these people, the impotent (manifesting literally through the absence of virility and in an inability to reach beyond their gruelling lives), cruel men and the mostly avaricious, scheming women or those more in the roles of victim. Reading stories built around the frustration, anger, depravity unleashed in a fireball at almost every tragic or darkly comic ending was a slig ...more
I like the style, very graphic and visual with less dialogue than I was expecting. The themes are also not what I expected. Even though the characters are working class there's a constant idea that women are just valuable only as sex objects with little agency of their own (and in several stories obsession with a specific woman drives the man to do terrible things). Now, what I know about Japanese culture and manga can fit in a teacup (no pun intended) so I'm probably missing a much larger pictu ...more
Paul Greer
Interesting from a technical point of view of layout and story structure, execution of plot in short form etc. But, yes, content bleaker than bleak. the violence, hatred and misogyny drips off the page and kinds of nullifies any benefit mentioned earlier. Wasn't prepared to recommend it to anyone I know. In the preface Tatsumi says do not judge him on these early works alone. Almost interested enough to see what else he did, but maybe not.
Oct 17, 2013 MariNaomi added it
Shelves: graphic
The art was good, but the stories were so poorly written (and ridiculously executed, but not in a good way) I wanted to cry. What a waste of art-that-doesn't-suck! And to add injury to insult, almost every story in this book of shorts was a violent misogynist fantasy (executed with the grace of a warped, hateful child), many of them not even making much sense. I want my hour of reading back!
The durability of Tatsumi's works are impressive: today's readers, if not previously informed, would surely be surprised to learn that these stories were created more than 40 years ago. In terms of tone and style, this work shares an obvious kinship with the "alternative" or "literally" comics that began proliferating in North America in the mid-1980s (until today), yet it predates much of that work by as much as four decades. In revisiting the works of Tatsumi, it's now apparent how much his co ...more
These short stories are quite similar in nature. The main protagonist - exclusively male - is disatisfied in life and is either beholden financially to a woman (often a sex worker), or has a negative relationship with one. The females are usually the dominant characters here, with the men coping with living in their shadow and often feeling inadequate and frustrated because of this. Some are just loners. Violence occasionally erupts. As a spotlight on a Japan with a disintegrating male workforce ...more
Very grim, very dark and bleak collection. Main flaw is depiction of women in many of the stories. That being said, it doesn't read as though the text sympathizes with the characters necessarily - they are pitiful but not sympathetic as they try and fail to connect with anything in meaningful ways until they lash out. Thematically focused on ambivalence of the city towards the individual on a macro and micro level, especially powerful because of the repeating themes of the stories. Artistically ...more
Manoel Elpidio
"Who are you? What are you doing here?"

Having previously read Tatsumi's autobiographical A Drifting Life , this introduction to what is actually the gekiga style he coined back in the 60s is at the same time enticing and dull. Its dullness comes from the repetition of themes, always alluding to violence, dirtiness, submission and sex, using those motifs to weave together the sense of the stories. It's not particularly dull itself, but, when looking at a general picture today, it becomes commonp
Michael Scott
Part of the series on Japanese daily life by TATSUMI Yoshihiro that also includes Abandon the Old in Tokyo and Good-Bye, Push Man is a collection of short stories depicting Japan probably just after the war (the dread, the sacrifice of everyday salary men for the sake of re-growing the economy, etc.) The topics included here, although drawn as "gekiga" (realistic drama) so by no means "easy", are the least palatable in the series; the graphics also feel the least polished.

Tatsumi focuses on the
Maurice Carlos Ruffin
If I told you I read a disturbing, bracing set of stories about alienation, you'd probably think that didn't sound like anything out of the ordinary.

But what if I told these were stories told in the graphic novel format, by a Japanese man, 45 years ago?

Tatsumi's vision is so clear and compelling that I read this beautiful lean set of tale straight through. I sat it aside for a few days and read it again.

Tatsumi is a genius. Not only because he reveals a Tokyo that is both familiar and strange
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 15, 2008 Jennn rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: manga
The Push Man was centered around ordinary men in odd jobs including being a Push Man (to push people into subways), a sewage worker (and finding several dead babies over time), a car mechanic (who lated killed himself after rigging the brakes of a porn star), a factory worker (who mutilated himself for money), etc.

Most were about sex, death, killing, helplessness, violence, manipulation, etc. It was weird though since it was drown in a very simple "old-school" way, so it didn't feel as nitty-gr
Sam Quixote
Yoshihiro Tatsumi's "The Push Man" is a collection of 8 page stories detailing the lives of young people in working class areas of a nameless city. As usual with Tatsumi's work the stories are highly imaginative, well drawn, and utterly compelling to read. Once you pick up the book you won't put it down until you've finished. Then you'll go back and re-read some of the more haunting stories.

The themes are of betrayal, isolation, revenge, sacrifice, and loneliness. It isn't the most cheerful of
I like this gekiga stuff. I prefer this dark type of manga that deals with violence, sex, murder, attempted rape, aborted babies, voyeurism, escort girls, affairs, sex slaves and pregnant rats to manga about teenagers, love, crazy fights, robots and what else. It's a shame that there isn't a vaster offer of licensed gekiga and adult readers have to limit to Tatsumi's works and some of Tezuka's books.

Out of the 16 shorts compiled here, all very good in terms of message and art, my favorites are T
These are dark and disturbing short stories about the lives of working class Japanese city dwellers, written by the author in the late 1960s. In most of the stories there is some element of violence or sexuality that is unsettling in its nonchalant presentation. This has to do, I think, with the relationship between the content and the spare and stark style of the art. In a short interview presented at the back of the book Tatsumi states that he developed his style in part as a critique of both ...more
Hafiz Azam
If you're a keen reader of Japanese manga,this will open the door to a whole new meaning of manga. Amidst all the extraordinarily drawn manga of epic proportion,you have this little gem nestling in the quiet corner of mangaverse. It's the gekiga. I wont explain what it means because you can pretty much google it yourself.

One thing that I like about this book is it does not follow the generic structure of a manga. It was more akin to graphic novel,more dramatic. There are minimal dialogue,common
Yoshihiro Tatsumi is a little known artist in the states. Well, he may be better known since this came out 4 years ago. But his slice-of-life stories are sad glimpses into the darker territories of life (these are set in late 60's Japan, but still hold up today.)
Most of these short stories are 8 pages long, due to constraints put out by the magazines publishing them. But they convey a lot in those pages. True, some feel rushed or incomplete, but more surprising is most don’t.
Instead, they feel l
Yoshihiro Tatsumi is credited with being one of the pioneers of a form of underground comic in Japan called "gekiga." Essentially, "gekiga" are experimental comics with adult themes...not your typical mainstream manga. From what I've read, they weren't even widely sold but rather found in larger libraries and such places for borrowing. All in all, I was captivated enough to read the entire volume - I think mostly out of an almost morbid curiosity for a form of manga that was previously unknown t ...more
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Yoshihiro Tatsumi (辰巳 ヨシヒロ Tatsumi Yoshihiro, June 10, 1935 in Tennōji-ku, Osaka) is a Japanese manga artist who is widely credited with starting the gekiga style of alternative comics in Japan, having allegedly coined the term in 1957.

His work has been translated into many languages, and Canadian publisher Drawn and Quarterly have embarked on a project to publish an annual compendium of his works
More about Yoshihiro Tatsumi...

Other Books in the Series

Tatsumi's short stories (3 books)
  • Abandon the Old in Tokyo
  • Good-Bye
A Drifting Life Abandon the Old in Tokyo Good-Bye Black Blizzard Fallen Words

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