Reviews for Japan Ai : A Tall Girl's Adventures in Japan

Booklist Reviews 2008 April #1
Accompanied by two friends, Steinberger, a professional animator and devotee of that special brand of cuteness that hails from contemporary Japan (think Sanrio's Hello Kitty and similar artistic and commercial ventures), provides a charming recapitulation of their visit there. Steinberger's height (she's six feet tall), along with such things as the language barrier, immediately marked the trio as tourists, but their devotion to such Japanese-inspired pastimes as cosplay (dressing up as manga, anime, and fantasy characters) and Steinberger's interest in Japanese Volks dolls gave them several avenues into popular culture, where they found considerable enjoyment. Steinberger tells their story largely in black-and-white, manga-style line drawings, with the occasional application of bright colors. Manga and anime fans will appreciate the gentle travelogue, and even readers unfamiliar with Japanese culture today will like Steinberger and her pals and be intrigued by their observations on what it can be like to be a tourist. Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2007 December #3

Aimee's a six-foot-tall cosplaying fangirl who visits Japan, land of her favorite hobbies. There, she visits historical Kyoto, shops, dresses as a geisha, visits a hot spring, goes to Tokyo and shops some more. The cute, cartoony sketches present a travelogue by an out-of-place but observant gaijin who is keen to absorb the intricacies of a new culture. Much of the story has a fairly straightforward "went here, saw this, went there, saw that" pace--few incidents are given any dramatic weight. When her luggage is lost, it's a two-page incident, with the problem magically solved with no involvement on her part. Similarly, the developments from one of Aimee's companions being mistaken for a yakuza and being revealed as a narcoleptic are swiftly passed by in a one-page sequence. However, the cute characters cannot help becoming sympathetic, and Aimee missing a chance to go to dinner at a factory that makes her favorite dolls has real disappointment. The book resembles an illustrated travel sketchbook more than a manga, but the otaku subject matter--and endless enthusiasm for the details of Japanese culture--is of built-in interest to readers of the latter. (Dec.)

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