Tonoharu: Part One

Lars Martinson

Lars Martinson’s tale of a lonely English teacher in Japan is a series of four-panel pages with black-and-white drawings. A prologue with interpanel narration sets the scene, introducing us to the narrator and the main character in this story of cultural alienation. Dan Wells, the only American in Tonoharu, teaches English to junior-high students. Well, he doesn’t really teach; the Japanese teachers do that. His job is boring, he’s not learning Japanese very quickly and his days are spent in isolation. Then he’s invited to a party at the residence of the only other Westerners in the town, a group of Europeans with some rather ethnocentric views on Japan. The drawings are deceptively simple yet incredibly detailed, which contributes to the sense of being every bit as overwhelmed as Dan.