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Abandon the Old in Tokyo

(Tatsumi's short stories)

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  2,141 ratings  ·  161 reviews
"These stories get under your skin and invite rereading." -BookForum

Abandon the Old in Tokyo is the second in a three-volume series that collects the short stories of Japanese cartooning legend Yoshihiro Tatsumi. Designed and edited by Adrian Tomine, the first volume, The Push Man and Other Stories, debuted to much critical acclaim and rightfully placed Tatsumi as a legen
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published September 5th 2006 by Drawn and Quarterly (first published 1970)
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Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,141 ratings  ·  161 reviews

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Jon(athan) Nakapalau
Dec 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: manga, favorites
Stories from the street...everyday people dealing with the pain and disappointment that we all must face throughout life.
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I got 'Abandon the Old in Tokyo' by Yoshihiro Tatsumi as a present from a friend sometime back. When I was thinking of reading a graphic novel today, I decided to pick it up.

Japanese writers believe in presenting stories in comic form. They are pioneers in it. Comics probably occupies a bigger literary landscape in Japan than regular books - there are probably more readers of comics there than there are readers of other kinds of books. One of the reasons for this is that there are comics writte
Sam Quixote
Jul 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
"Abandon The Old in Tokyo" is Tatsumi's second collected edition from Drawn & Quarterly and shows a marked shift in tone from the dark, satirical humour in "The Push Man" to a much darker worldview in this book. The first thing to notice is that the pieces are longer this time around. Tatsumi uses this length to go deeper into the minds of his protagonists and the Japanese society of this time.

The title story is about a young man, torn between a life with his fiancee and a more restricted l
Sep 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
I picked up this book while searching (fruitlessly as it turned out) for another book by a different author. I was very, very impressed by both the artwork and the storytelling. In fact I liked it so much, that I lent it to someone in my office whose tastes overlap much of my own.

But I am shocked to find that not only did I read it before (according to my Goodreads log), but that I did not write anything about it! I guess I was both lazy and artless in those days.

The most troubling thing is that
Jun 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I found this in Greenlight Bookstore and thought it looked interesting. This series of graphic short stories seem to be connected by a similar character - a man lost in society. These male characters all have feelings, urges, dreams and all but somehow they always seem to come up short. It is only through the unexpected chance that they find anything that takes them away from their daily misery. What takes them away is not the women in their lives: the mothers are whores; the girlfriends, fiance ...more
Michael Scott
Part of the series on Japanese daily life by TATSUMI Yoshihiro that also includes Push Man and Good-Bye, Abandon the Old in Tokyo 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 are drawn as "gekiga" (realistic drama), so by no means "easy"; they also include some of the really eccentric parts of the series.

Tatsumi focuses on the lives of working cl
Mar 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novel, war
Soft and yet gritty drawings of everyday life in Japan during the 70's. The sordid reality of the characters is very tangible in Tatsumi's work; however, it is balanced with light humor. This graphic medium has succeeded in bringing together the Japanese of today and yesterday, as well as bringing in the readers to experience their reality. Tatsumi's perspective is spot on, and his eye serves as a perfect record of humanity's destruction, as well as occasional glimpses of beauty, as shown in thi ...more
Stewart Tame
Apr 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Lovely, haunting short stories about urban life. Tatsumi originally wrote and drew these in the late 60's and early 70's, but they don't feel dated. His protagonists struggle to survive in dead end jobs against a sea of troubles. There is melancholy to these stories, but never despair. His characters are resolute and stubborn; one can't imagine them ever giving up. They are not chipper or plucky or spunky or overly optimistic about their chances--this isn't Barefoot Gen, after all--just prepared ...more
Jul 12, 2007 rated it really liked it
I'm a relative newcomer to a lot of comic books and graphic novels so I can't really comment on how this fits in with the whole genre. However, this collection of short stories is really excellent. Perhaps the most eye-opening thing for me was the society portrayed. We tend to think of Japan in it's most modern incarnation but these stories point to a period after the war where Japan was at a very interesting point in terms of deciding it's identity. The stories are extremely elegant - an emotio ...more
Jun 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
If anyone can wage a literary battle with Osamu Tezuka and hold his fort and maybe even win, it is Tatsumi. I'd heard so much about him and his work and his pioneering 'gekiga' style of manga which is more realist than the usual manga and also darker and associated such tropes with some of Tezuka's one shot works, too. However, this collection of shorter graphic stories by Tatsumi is the first work I've read by him and it has greatly appealed to me.

I love how there are always background sounds a
Nov 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of alternative comics
Shelves: comics
Dude. Dark.
May 13, 2014 added it
Shelves: manga
Simple and short, dark and very human.
Okaay.... ????

I expected to like this collection a lot more, since it's bizarre, dark, and culturally significant. And I do tend to enjoy the bizarre, but this collection threw me for a loop. Perhaps its weird-level is beyond me, or perhaps my brain isn't working hard enough; I'm not sure. But the intense combination of weirdness and visual/thematic ickiness is very unappealing.

Some primitive descriptions of each story's weirdness under the spoiler tag:

(view spoiler)
Dec 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic-novels, manga
This is one gem of a manga. It shows a gekiga story telling style (alternative, underground, not mainstream) which I really appreciate because I've been a follower of alternative comics published in the U.S. Now that I found out that they have these kinds of mangas has broaden my reading choices.

Furthermore, I agree with Adrian Tomine ( a well known alternative comics writer) during his interview with Mr. Tatsumi in the question an answer portion in the book, that a lot of people have a limited
Feb 05, 2018 rated it did not like it
If this anthology and its companion The Push Man and other stories are any indication, here's Tatsumi's basic plot idea, repeated in endless variations. A wordless working class, pre-middle aged everyman is partnered with an alcoholic fishwife who frequents (or is employed at) an offscreen strip club or brothel. Sexually frustrated and browbeaten, he ultimately discovers her infidelity. About half the time the catharsis is a violent retaliation, the other half entails his death or other escape. ...more
Josephus FromPlacitas
Jun 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Some of the stories ended a little too obliquely for me to follow what the intent was (Forked Road, The Washer, to a lesser extent Beloved Monkey). The generic working class character face got to be a little frustrating after a while, giving the impression that you were reading the same story again and again. But those are pretty minor complaints in the big scheme.

The under-conceived female characters could be significantly frustrating though. A wife and scarred woman in "The Hole" whose only d
May 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: manga
"Abandon the Old Tokyo" is a collection of eight short stories Yoshihiro wrote during his prime. It is obvious why Yoshihiro felt the need to make such a distinction with his manga predecessors when describing his work. Yoshihiro’s writing is definitely not for children or the faint of heart. Its stories provide an unflinchingly honest expose on the private lives of ordinary, working-class men living in the hustle and bustle of Japan’s thriving metropolis that will more often than not leave the ...more
Aug 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library
My second short stories magna by Tatsumi. I didn't think he could get any darker than Good-bye. I was so very wrong. The writing is very minimalistic but the story boards are so powerful. There are images that will haunt me like the one in "unpaid" where the character is naked holding a dog crying. This book is filled with despair and non hope. Everyone feels subhuman and unlovable I can really relate. I don't know if that is good or empathetic. I learned that he passed earlier this year and tha ...more
Lars Guthrie
Jun 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Tatsumi is growing on me. This collection of tales from the seventies is even darker and bleaker than 'The Push Man,' if that's possible. Tatsumi is a master of the dark and the bleak. It's interesting that he says he is unfamiliar with Crumb and other American underground pioneers in an afterword interview with Adrian Tomine, because he certainly shares an affinity for what seems autobiographical (despite his protestations), and for frankly examining perversity. Where Crumb goes over the top wi ...more
Apr 28, 2008 rated it it was ok
Maybe I'm missing something here, but I thought this book would give me more of an insight into post-war Japan. It succeeds in showing some of the underbelly of life, but I found the stories repetitive and annoyingly misogynistic. Nearly all of the main characters in the stories (all helpless, distraught men) blame their problems in some way or another on women. Adrian Tomine is supposedly really influenced by Tatsumi's work, but I'd rather read Tomine any day. At least he offers a bit of redemp ...more
Saif Saeed
Mar 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: manga
I'm having a shitty day thanks to this book.

Don't let the simple art style deceive you into thinking this is a simple book. Don't let the slightly disturbing title trick you into thinking this is a slightly disturbing book. This damn thing hits hard in places you never knew you could feel pain.

This is a collection of short stories in manga form from the 1970's. This book also has a scene I can't believe any editor and publisher could ever approve. It wasn't graphic and I think that's the problem
Stephen Douglas Rowland
Aside from the titular piece, this volume seems to me to be Tatsumi's dregs. Drawn and Quarterly's other Tatsumi collections are much better.
Aug 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphicnovels
This installment was another great one with art that you just had to sit and drool over for a moment before getting on with the stories. it was certainly on par with the last one beyond that a lot of these stories were more involved and deeper. a few took a bit of time to fully sink in...

The title story was, I think, the most disturbing. I think the main thing about these stories is that they don't just -think- about doing something, they go ahead and do it. maybe many people would consider putt
Feb 16, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
This is probably the godfather of such graphic novels as "Watchmen". Well, maybe it's more of a drunken great uncle that used to work for Disney but then things started to come out about what he does on the weekend, where he goes, which stores he is seen going into, that kind of thing.
My wife picked this up for me on a library trip (we've stopped buying books, that economy will get ya!) and I really enjoy the deep human emotion mixed with that intrinsic messed up-ness that I have come to ident
Sep 30, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphic-novels
I picked this up after watching Tatsumi, the film dedicated to Yoshihiro Tatsumi.

while Tatsumi presents a wide variety of gekiga, aka manga/comics that aren't mainstream, I didn't really enjoy Tatsumi's work because it was too dark for me. the stories told within Abandon the Old in Tokyo are well-told with a distinct drawing style but I just felt like I needed a shower far as classic manga goes, I still think Osamu Tezuka>everyone else.

the stories within Abandon the Old in Tok
Ursula Villarreal-Moura
I'm open to the fact that maybe I "missed" the major themes or just "didn't get it." Although many have hailed Tatsumi a master, this collection of tales was too disjointed for me. Sometimes the transition from one panel to another, in the same tale, was jarring and distracting. Tatsumi admits to drawing all his main characters deliberately with the same face, but I found the tactic a little lazy and very frustrating since each man was supposed to be unique. I did appreciate the perversions of t ...more
Hannah Garden
Woof. Nope. Did not like that. The interview in the back has him talking about a style of comics he and some friends invented to get away from straight manga, less fantastical and more true to life. These stories are not fantastical, and I don't read manga, but I guess he accomplished his goal? It's all grim or gross or gruesome shit, but it's all stuff that could actually happen, so. Congratulations! Idk it just felt really snotty and juvenile, like some guy in your college creative writing cla ...more
Sep 15, 2011 rated it liked it
I can appreciate these stories on a certain level- they were created far before their time, and helped to form indie Japanese comics into what they are today. There is a certain dark humor present in them, and the drawing style is cartoon-ish without being childish, which can be difficult to pull off. Tatsumi is definitely a talented author, and stories like "Man in a Hole" were haunting and thought provoking. Yet, too many of them were inconclusive, too dry, or lacking structure. This book is a ...more
Sep 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: comics, stories, abjection
I can understand why Tatsumi's early work is historically important for its attention to the unglamorous details of city life, and I still want to give "A Drifting Life" a chance, but Tatsumi's storytelling here, for all its skill at evoking a certain claustrophobic loneliness, often has a bludgeoning quality and a disturbing undercurrent of misogyny. Art needs to attend to buried lives, but do they all have to be those of underground /men/?
Jan 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
I've been a fan of Tatsumi's GNs that take a bleak and hard look at Japanese society. In this series of short stories, he tells us tales of men and women who feel trapped in bleak lives because of family obligations, hidden desires, thirst for revenge and social expectations. He exposes the repression his characters live under. If you want Disney-type GNs, this is not for you. If you want to look under the glossy surface of a culture, dive in.
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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

Other books in the series

Tatsumi's short stories (3 books)
  • The Push Man and Other Stories
  • Good-Bye