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Tokyo Suckerpunch (Billy Chaka #1)

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  446 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
Meet Billy Chaka, ace reporter for Cleveland's hottest-selling Asian teen magazine. He's brash, savvy, and prone to hair-trigger fits of karate. Billy's in Tokyo to cover the 19-and-Under Handicapped Martial Arts Championship and meet up with his friend Sato Migusion, the international renowned director of such cult film classics as Sex Up the Hotrod, Baby! But Sato never ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published November 28th 2000 by HarperPerennial (first published 2000)
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Feb 25, 2009 Matt rated it really liked it
Of course I enjoy reading, but there are only a handful of books that give me that feeling of unabashed fun. I cannot really qualify this statement, it is basically a general sense of giddiness as I read. The short list of my "giddy" books include 'Snow Crash' by Neal Stephenson and the fiction of Mark Leyner. Well, now I have to add 'Tokyo Suckerpunch' to that list. This work can basically be described as a hard-boiled detective novel set in modern Japan. By "modern Japan", I am referring to th ...more
Jun 06, 2010 RandomAnthony rated it liked it
When Tadpole ( and I met in Chicago he gave me Tokyo Suckerpunch. I gave him a purple wrestling mask and requested he wear it for a profile pic. He’s a better gift-giver than me. Tokyo Suckerpunch is like an action movie plot recounted by an intelligent guy at a party after way too much marijuana but before everybody gets all tired and hungry.

The novel’s main character/narrator, Billy Chaka, writes for a Cleveland-based magazine aimed at Asian youth. He's
My Bookshelf
Jun 21, 2010 My Bookshelf rated it it was ok
Read this during my senior year of NYU while working as an intern at Library Journal. I reviewed it for LJ, the text of which is here:

"Billy Chaka is not only a martial arts expert and star Asian teen journalist but also the wisecracking and surprisingly introspective protagonist of this pop culture-infused first novel. While on assignment in Japan, Billy learns that his filmmaker friend Sato Migusho has died when his house burned down. Suspecting foul play, he sets out on an adventure that wil
Aug 28, 2013 Turtle rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Detective Fiction (Anime/Japan) Fans, Maybe?
Recommended to Turtle by: High School Library
My opinion of this book has somewhat lessened through a second read through. I still find it utterly fascinating but some of the jokes were a bit tasteless to me now. I still believe that Isaac Adamson has a superior knowledge of what it's like to live as a foreigner in Japan; which is what drew me to the series in the first place (being the anime fanatic I was in high school). But my perspective now has given me both a deeper appreciation of what Adamson had to share about Japanese culture and ...more
Jan 10, 2013 Mathias rated it really liked it
I really enjoy the Billy Chaka novels. Mystery novels with a wild protagonist, Billy Chaka, a journalist for an American japanophile magazine that is prone to unexpected and sudden fits of kung fu. They take place in a version of Tokyo that is sort of a hyper-exaggerated version of what a lot of Americans THINK Japan is like and never let up on introducing a bunch of fun new and strange characters.

Suckerpunch is the first in the series of mystery novels so a bit more time is spent setting every
Jun 14, 2007 Benjamin rated it it was ok
Shelves: modernliterature
Billy Chaka, the hero of Tokyo Suckerpunch, is a man with every necessary skill to survive in a detective suspense novel. He is also, implausibly, a full-time reporter for a martial arts magazine that covers handicapped martial-arts events.

By a serious of particularly unlikely coincidences, Billy Chaka ends up working for both a religious cult and the Japanese mob trying to find a geisha who may be immortal.

There's also a murder mystery and way more than you wanted to know about handicapped ma
not very funny, totally un-original. our hero can do no wrong. need to kick 5 yakuza gangsters stuffing? he's the man. need a perfectly timed come back to some jerk who's mouthing off. he's the man. who is he? I don't know. I cant remember our hero's name (big deal) and there is absolutely no back story what so ever. we don't learn where this super protagonist came from, how old he is, ect. only that he can do no wrong.

Jason Edwards
Jun 25, 2012 Jason Edwards rated it liked it
So it turns out Tokyo Suckerpunch is out of print, but I was lucky enough to find a copy in a used bookstore. Reading books made out of paper and ink is weird, but I managed, thanks to Adamson’s engaging style sense of humor. I was a little let down by a meandering plot and not much payoff at the end, but if books are for getting lost in on a rainy day, you could do worse than this one.

I got my copy at a Half Priced Books, one I’d never been to and visited on a whim. Didn’t find it in the sci-fi
Jun 24, 2007 Isabel rated it did not like it
i bought this used and on a whim. i knew it wasn't exactly going to be quality...but what i found was HORRIBLE. by the 8th page i was thoroughly disgusted. i made it through a whole chapter and stopped. here's why.

for starters, we're dealing with a white dude named billy chaka, who lives in tokyo as a writer for an asian youth magazine based in cleveland. he talks about how comfortable he is in japan. he apparently speaks like a native. he does this bartender some huge favor, and is repaid by be
Mar 24, 2013 Julie rated it really liked it
This book was so much fun. I found books 2 and 3 at book sales, but couldn't find this one ANYWHERE - the library system didn't have it, plus it's not available as an ebook. Finally I got a copy from AbeBooks, and plunged in.

I didn't really know what to expect from this book. It's sort of a murder mystery, with a ton of other plot threads thrown in. There are yakuza, a secretive religious order, a mysterious geisha, some wacky movie crew types, a private detective, a three-limbed martial artist.
Aug 25, 2011 Hunter rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Hunter by: Zach Larson
Shelves: fiction, borrowed
This is a strange, strange, book. But it's also a really fun read. -- Billy Chaka is a writer for a popular teen sports magazine in the U.S. While covering a martial arts tournament in Tokyo, one thing leads to another and Billy gets tangled up with...everyone. The Yakuza, some other weirder group, a group of motorcycle-driving street toughs... You name it. Oh, and he has quite a thing for geisha.
The story sounds bizarre, but I really found it fun to read. The pacing is good, and the character
Jan 22, 2009 Judson rated it really liked it
Sort of a Shinto existentialist potboiler neo-noir shot through with the wisecracked inner monologue of Billy Chaka, the central journalist/martial artist/movie nerd/geisha obsessive Mike Hammer stand-in. Fun stuff. I never read Elmore Leonard but I imagine it to be quite like this, except take Leonard's every American detail and make it a Japanese cultural touchpoint. My favorite stuff was all movie related; Tokyo Suckerpunch itself is, in the novel, a screenplay unmade by Sato Migusho, a major ...more
Greg Kerestan
Jan 29, 2016 Greg Kerestan rated it liked it
Isaac Adamson's "Billy Chaka" novels are an American response to the Murakami house style: while Haruki Murakami brought American genre influences of cyberpunk, magic realism and noir to conventional Japanese character study and realist literature, Adamson writes from an American-in-Japan perspective on the weird, intricately detailed Murakami world. Sometimes, in this first volume, the homage can be a little heavy-handed, especially in Billy's romantic woes and the use of teeth as an all-too-re ...more
May 09, 2008 Turi rated it liked it
I picked up Tokyo Suckerpunch from the "Read and Return" shelf at the Incline Village library when I was up there last week, and I'm glad that I did. Really fun read. I'd have to describe it as Mark Leyner meets Tim Dorsey and vacations in Japan. (If you don't know those two authors, your reading habits are probably way too normal...) At any rate, the basic synopsis: Billy Chaka is in Tokyo covering the Junior Handicapped martial arts tournament when he stumbles into a plot involving the death o ...more
May 10, 2010 Thor rated it really liked it
This is a really fun book. It takes a left hand turn about 3/4ths of the way through, that was disappointing twist. This book was tailored for me and I don't know that I would recommend it for everyone. It is a story set in Japan with lots of Japanese culture commentary. I love Japanese culture and this book represents the weirdest and most fantastic aspects, not only in the story, but also in meta-prose aspects (the plot and characters are over the top and entirely weird). This Japan is not the ...more
Feb 07, 2009 Chuck rated it really liked it
Billy Chaka is a writer for a teen martial arts magazine based in Ohio, named "Youth in Asia". He's also a World Class smart ass and kick butt martial artist with an addiction to Geisha Girls. Not surprisingly, when he goes to Tokyo and runs into a mysterious Geisha, sparks fly and lots of people get a boot to the head. I've always been fascinated by Japan in general and Tokyo in particular and Adamson does a great job of making you feel the sensory overload Tokyo is so famous for. If you're as ...more
Apr 13, 2014 Adobe rated it liked it
A silly, fun little book with frequent excursions into the side alleys of Japanese pop culture, narrated by an amusingly hardboiled journalist with a weakness for geishas. In short, it's excellent brain candy, though some of the plot twists are jerkily unconvincing. Also, the "immortal geisha" sub-plot smacks of some joke allusion to an unknown Lafcadio Hearn ghost story. But whatever. It's the kind of a book that throws everything against the wall to see what sticks -- but it's successful often ...more
Brendan Sweeney
Nov 28, 2012 Brendan Sweeney rated it it was amazing
One day, my best friend and I walked into one of those discount bookstores that always pop up. Suddenly, a hot pink cover caught our eye. Taking a good look at the cover and reading the back cover, we knew we had to read this and we weren't disappointed.

I can't adequately convey just how awesome this book is. You -*NEED*- this novel. Now. Get it. Read it.

Why are you still reading this review? You should be acquiring this book with all haste and alacrity!
Two-fisted History
Feb 05, 2014 Two-fisted History rated it it was amazing
In 2006, I walked into one of those random Discount Book Stores that pop up in random locations and random times like some kind of Gypsy Bookstore.

In one of the piles, we discovered this pink-covered book with the title, 'Tokyo Suckerpunch' Of course this must be a sign; two Nihonophiles discovering a book with a beaconic cover. We each picked a copy, and I read it in a couple days.

I highly recommend Tokyo Suckerpunch and the other books in the Billy Chaka series.
Jun 04, 2014 Ev. rated it it was ok
Shelves: humor, contemporary
It's been a long, long time since I read this. I don't even remember if I particularly enjoyed this book.

I'm sure my opinion about this White Man Trolloping Through an East Asian Society would be different had I read this yesterday and not in 8th grade. :P Unless Adamson really did write something sans the white colonial narrative. In which case, woooo!

But I get the feeling that that was not the case...
Brandon Autry
Oct 28, 2007 Brandon Autry rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: i-can-t-read
This book is is the funniest book I have ever read. The editing is a little poor and some of the writing is a little poor in places, but it's a little expected for his first book. I read it cover to cover in about 2 days and laughed the whole way through. Every person I've recomended this book to has said pretty much the same thing,'s very funny and I can't wait for the movie in '08.
Feb 04, 2008 Cody rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: gaijin like me.
a pretty exotic view of contemporary japanese culture, through wide western eyes. all of isaac adamson's billy chaka books are great, but start here. the narration is kinetic and pulpy and more than a little noir. he colors japan with hyperstylized allure and mystique, and billy chaka is funky cool. empty calories to be sure, but totally worth it.
Aug 31, 2007 Victoria rated it it was amazing
I love this book! It caught my eye one day in the downtown Portland,Or libary. It is a fun read with lots of wit, colorful characters/descriptions, action, under 19 handicapped martial arts world championship, yakuza, and a dog trained in the way of the samurai. WHat more can I say. I recommend this book to anyone who likes a goodtime.
Sep 05, 2014 Devvy rated it liked it
This wasn't the greatest story I read but it was definitely different than what I expected. I wasn't prepared to be taken into an action mystery story about some American in Tokyo. And I really didn't expect who had committed the crime in the end. But I wish the story ended a little differently. Definitely enjoyable but worth buying? I don't think so.
Feb 27, 2008 Mike rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
So good! Weird sorta mystery novel. This is a fantastic novel and a fantastic first novel for a series. It's weird and fun and very much what we want Japan to be like wether or not it actually is like that after all. I read this close to 4 1/2 years ago of this review, all I really remember is that it was a lot of fun. And that I should probably read it again.
Aug 14, 2007 Barree rated it really liked it
It's a modern day pulp done in anime. It's action packed and hard boiled as all hell.

This first in the series of Billy Chaka is a little over blown and I think Isaac Adamson really hits his stride in the second and third books of the series, but still Tokyo Suckerpunch is so much fun to read.
Jun 14, 2010 Andrea rated it it was ok
Shelves: japan
I enjoy reading books about Japan, esp. when they poke fun at both the native culture and that of the non-native visitors. Great cultural insight here but it warped off into sci-fi/fantasy and lost me. Didn't actually finish this one.....
Sep 18, 2008 Emilia rated it really liked it
i needed beach reading in key west (see also janet evanovich). this book reminded me of matt holland.
Eric Jonathan Martin
Aug 09, 2013 Eric Jonathan Martin rated it it was amazing
Hilarious introduction to Billy Chaka. Absurd humour and a cast of characters that can easily be related to makes it a highly enjoyable read.
Sep 07, 2007 Ellen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: good-stuff
Hilarious noir set in Japan, featuring Billy Chaka, reporter for "Youth in Asia," Cleveland's best-selling teen Asian-focused magazine.
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Isaac Adamson is the author of COMPLICATION, nominee for the 2013 Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original.

He also wrote TOKYO SUCKERPUNCH, DREAMING PACHINKO, and other Billy Chaka mysteries.

Isaac lives in Portland with his wife and children.

You can follow him on Twitter at @isaacadamson or find him on Facebook.

More about Isaac Adamson...

Other Books in the Series

Billy Chaka (4 books)
  • Hokkaido Popsicle
  • Dreaming Pachinko
  • Kinki Lullaby

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