Catrina 's Reviews > Turning Japanese

Turning Japanese by Cathy Yardley
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May 16, 09

bookshelves: japan-books
Read in May, 2009

** spoiler alert ** I first picked up this book rather hesitantly. I really wanted to give it a chance, I did. I love me some manga and Japan(I studied abroad there and miss it terribly), and so I really wanted to read it even though I was afraid that the book would not capture Japan correctly and it would piss me off. I was right and wrong. Firstly, as a future teacher of the Japanese language, I have to say: Who edited this? I saw, 2 very ugly spelling mistakes of Japanese words. It's KEITAI not K-TEI (WTF?)and if you are going to make the point of someone yelling in a job interview that they are capable of a job because they are "fluent in kanji and HIRAGANA" (she said HIGANA, barf) maybe you should spell it correctly so they don't look like a moron. Okay, enough ranting about spelling.
The good thing is that Yardley captures pieces of Japan that rang so true. There is nothing like moving to Japan to realize how American you are, seriously. Her descriptions of corporate culture and family dynamics were mostly on point also. And, the best characters in the book are so very Japanese; her overbearing boss Akamatsu-sensei and her roomie, the gal with tons of spare time, Yukari.
But there are serious flaws to her work. I would like to have heard about the manga story she was writing, not just about how hard it was for her to fit in the time to do it. But really, her characters are just so unlikeable. The protaganist is a whiny baby, who luckily grows a backbone (I might have thrown the book out if she didn't), and her supporting characters are just rude. Who's family is so unsupportive of following your dreams? What kind of fiance pushes you away so he can finish business school and then wants you to give up your dream when its convenient? What kind of friend is so unsupportive that they tell you to get your priorities straight when you follow your dream instead of plan a wedding to your jerk fiance? Who would forgive them easily in the end if all this happened? ARGH!
In the end, I can only recommend this to people who a. don't know that much about Japan and would like to, b. are interested in manga but don't want to hear much about the manga story she is writing, or c. want to read a story about a woman who becomes inspired to change her life.
I don't recommend it for people who really want to become mangaka or people who liked living in Japan or people who speak Japanese. (It will probably piss you off too.)

Okay, I'm done ranting. I'm going to go read some manga.
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message 1: by Pamela (new)

Pamela very helpful and informative review. thanks!


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