Sky Hawk by Jiro Taniguchi

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I loved this book, and this story. It is a wonderful homage to both bandes dessinées “westerns” and also western films that were popular in the 1960s. Westerns are one of my favourite film genres (bet you didn’t know that). I think Taniguchi is really successful at capturing the feel of these types of films. Even in the introduction Moebius says we don’t need Hollywood when we have books like this… I completely agree.

But the type of western that Taniguchi is trying to portray is all but extinct in Hollywood. This isn’t just because the western world would rather watch action films set in different worlds and futures, but also that the attitudes of those films is antiquated and overtly racist. Unfortunately, that undesirable element is also captured in Taniguchi’s book.

I’m not blaming Tanguchi for this inclusion. How was he to know? He didn’t live on this side of the world. But, I do somewhat blame the publisher (or even a tiny bit the translator). It’s their job to eke out the correct language to use. And because it has been included, even reviewers here are repeating this language, as though it’s the most okay-est thing in the world. It’s not.

I wouldn’t even have cared as much if this was originally written back 20 years, but this was written in the 21st century, and translated in 2019. The dialogue about antiquated language has been ongoing in the West for at least this long.

I think the translation could use a bit of finesse. What could have been done?

1. Leave the dialogue as is. As unpretty as the language is, it’s trying to capture the attitudes of the white settlers and invaders in the West in the 1870s. It’s ugly. But history is ugly.
2. Change all of the narrative and descriptive text to reflect more sensitive and appropriate modern language. If this text is supposed to be told from a so-called omniscient narrative perspective, that means they know about the history, but they can tell it in the context of appropriate language usage.

My second objection to this comic is that it ends with this sense that this history that has no baring on the present. That Indigenous Peoples were scourged from this earth. And though, while brutal, it’s all in the past. This is a dangerous sentiment people. Please inform yourself on these issues by reading up on Indigenous history (as told by Indigenous peoples). And if reading prose isn’t your favourite, there are several comics histories written by Indigenous artists that are worth your time.

But, is this comic worth reading? Yes. Of course. I loved the humanity of the people. I loved the landscapes, Taniguchi was truly a master at drawing setting. I loved the storytelling.

And my favourite was the way Taniguchi drew parallels toward his Japanese and Indigenous characters. That there was something more than personality that drew them together. I’ve read a few comics by Indigenous creators which have reached the same conclusions. I’ve always wondered if a Japanese artist would do the same. Here’s my answer.

January TBR Unwrapping (with my sister)

The first video in my sister and my 6 month manga TBR project has begun. We’ve jointly gone through the collection and chosen 50 manga titles that we both want to read. We’ve wrapped each of the books in wrapping paper, and every month we’re randomly selecting 4 books to read for our monthly TBR.

There’s a little catch though. Half of the books have reading prompts in them, so we could end up reading a lot more manga than just the 4 we’ve picked!

Check out what we’re going to Read in January – and which one of us gets the dreaded prompt to “read a series over 20 volumes”!

6 Month Manga TBR Unwrapping Project

I’ve had a lot of time over the last year to think about what I want to do with my reading… mostly, because I haven’t been reading at all. I haven’t been in what you’d consider a reading slump. I think, because I don’t really like that term. It was more of what I’d call, “intentionally not reading.”

While I’ve been not reading, I’ve been thinking about what I want my future reading to look like. And, certainly what I want my future collecting to look like. During this new age of Covid19, I won’t be collecting many books… or really buying much of anything until my financial future seems certain. It just doesn’t seem wise to be spending my money at the moment.

In the meantime, I’ve been working on learning languages so that if/when the world stabilizes again, I can transfer some of my collecting funds to new bookish avenues. Namely: Japanese language manga… and French language manga… and Korean language manga… you get the picture…

And, while I wait to be able to be able to read and collect in Japanese, I also have been thinking about what I should be reading in the meantime. And the conclusion is clear: Read my own books! What a notion!

I’ve said many times in the past, that I collect for a rainy day. Well, it’s raining now!

I’ve discussed it with my sister, and we’ve come up with a plan to read through some of the books in our collection that have become invisible or forgotten to us over time.

The plan has taken an interesting and fun turn. We’ve decided to create a TBR (to be read) stack of books already in the collection. But, also to wrap them in paper, so that every month it’s a surprise what books we’ll be reading. Then, since that didn’t seem like quite enough we created a few prompts on slips of paper and put them in half of the books. So, each month we’ll either have a 4 title TBR OR up to a 10 title TBR.

We’ll keep going for 6 months, or longer if we find that this encourages us to make a good dent in the books we already own. I’m really looking forward to this project – and I hope you are looking forward to watching us pick books every month as well!

Want to know which books we’ve wrapped up? Watch my video to see the complete list.