Well, I'm here to put my foot in my mouth. Diary of a Tokyo Teen has much more to offer than a couple of cute pictures. It's emotional, hilarious, and intelligent. The saying "don't judge a book by its cover" has never been more apt.
Inzer's Diary of a Tokyo Teen: A Japanese-American Girl Travels to the Land of Trendy Fashion, High-Tech Toilets and Maid Cafes has quite a bit packed into its humble package. That humbleness oozes through each page as you learn more about the author little by little. It's non-abrasive approach also eases the reader into the text. Coming especially handy when Inzer's text eventually drops bits of info about Japan's culture and customs. Thanks to her writing style and art, much of the general Japan-related facts aren't as plain as you would see them in a conventional travel guide and thus more memorable. Because each factoid is tied to one of Inzer's memories (thus filling the "Diary" part of title), it makes each fact a little more tangible. For example, one of my favorite parts of the book is when Inzer discusses Tokyo fashions. She fawns over how well the teens are dressed while highlighting how awkward she felt around them. This bit of self-depreciating humor is utterly charming as it's still oddly positive and heart warming. There's so much emotion packed into these vignettes I was taken aback by how much I had learned about the author's journey throughout.
You can't discuss the bulk of the text without gushing over Inzer's art. Her comics are like the gravy on the already meaty content. It's the extra flare of personality helping hammer her personal story home. Adorable imagery coupled with her adorable perspective just gave me a warm feeling in general. I wish I had other adjectives to use, but I really can't think of a better word to describe the art than "adorable." With each of her self-portraits containing a level of awkwardness, you can almost imagine how small she felt at times in an admittedly big place. This comes through especially during a vignette in which she traveled alone for the first time and was met with confusion. Sure it's not the deepest or the most emotional at times, but it's greatly appreciated these sorts of stories are included in the first place.
I guess my only issue with Diary of a Tokyo Teen overall is that there isn't enough of it. Regardless of how long you spend reading the text and admiring Inzer's comic art, it's still a brief experience. But in that loss, Diary gains an even greater amount of accessibility than even its art and content provide.
Diary of a Tokyo Teen is for everyone. If you're slightly interested in Japan and its culture, there are no better eyes to see it through than Christine Mari Inzer's.
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