Graphic Novel Review: Ichiro

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Graphic Novel Review: IchiroIchiro by Ryan Inzana
Published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children on March 20, 2012
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Mythology
Pages: 288
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley


Raised by his Japanese mother in New York City, his American father taken by war before Ichiro ever knew him, Ichiro finds it difficult to figure out where he fits in.

A trip to Japan leaves Ichiro with his grandfather, a stranger to him in a country he does not know.

And then one night Ichi gets dragged down a hole by a monster. When he wakes up, he isn't in Japan anymore. In fact, he isn't in the mortal world. Ichi has entered the domain of the gods.

With words and pictures, Ryan Inzana seamlessly interweaves myth and reality, life and death, gods and mortals, creating a wholly original fantasy adventure about one boy's search for peace, acceptance, and a place to call home.

Ichiro opens with an old Japanese legend about a tanuki, a raccoon that can shapeshift and often takes the form of a teapot. The tanuki forms the frame story for Ichiro, and it is also amusing and magical.

What Ichiro is really about is Ichiro, a young boy who idolizes his father. He wears his dads old sunglasses and constantly reads an old military book of his dad’s that he found. Because he misses his dad, who he barely remembers, he romanticizes war and is bored by most everything else. He gets sucked into the realm of the gods, because of that tricky tanuki and gets a lesson in war and humanity.

The drawings are really cool, although I wish I had been able to read a finished version, since the digital galleys just don’t quite have the quality of a printed graphic novel. The best part of the artwork was definitely the color. Inzana clearly has a flair for it; I love the contrasts between scenes in shades of grey, scenes with just one color popping brightly and scenes just bursting with color.

One response to “Graphic Novel Review: Ichiro”

  1. I just finished this one, and though I liked the aspects where Ichiro’s grandfather explained Japanese history and culture to him, I thought the point where Ichiro plunged headfirst into that mythological world was extremely distancing. I felt that not enough cultural context was provided for that, and though I’m sure the strangeness of that was some of the point, it still annoyed me. 3/5 sounds apt though.

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