Who takes the time these days to climb a tree in bare feet to rescue a child's toy? To stop and observe the birds? To play in the puddles after a storm? To go down to the sea to put a shell back? The Walking Man does as he strolls at random through urban Japan—often silent, often alone—with his vivid dreams that let time stand still.
Aruku Hito was published in English as The Walking Man by Ponent Mon/Fanfare in March 2006 and again in a new 10th anniversary hardcover edition on March 6, 2014. It was also published in Polish by Hanami on September 15, 2017, and in Brazilian Portuguese by Devir in September 2017.
Ah… I’ve struggled to come up with words to describe this… “lovely” was one, “nice” is another… yet, they both do it a grave injustice. There’s so much more to these stories than first meets the eye.
I’ve also been struggling to describe in words a story that is essentially about … well… nothing much really. The closest I can come is by comparing this to Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou… er… without the apocalypse… or the robots… or scooters. In fact, it also doesn’t even focus on "mono no aware", but rather "ikigai" - which translates nicely as “joy and a sense of well-being from being alive.”
is a concept that this manga portrays beautifully - it is simply about enjoying life - taking time out from the hurly-burly of everyday life and taking the time to observe the little things around you. There’s a sense of calm that radiates from each page that must have been manna to the soul of tired salarymen on their way home. (That sense of serenity might have overcome the mangaka too, seeing as it took him 8 years to produce 18 relatively short chapters.)
Each of the self-contained chapters simply revolves around our protagonist setting out to wander around his neighbourhood. Nothing dramatic happens, although on occasion he does help a child rescue a model plane from a tree and even sneaks into the public pool for a late night skinny-dip. Other than that, it’s simply about appreciating the things around you; acknowledging other people (one lovely chapter sums this up brilliantly - without using a single line of dialogue) and basking in the simple joy of being alive.
In a moment of weakness, I once described this as “tranquillity on a page” and yet, I can’t think of any other words that describe the message and feel of this unique little manga.
This is the most "nothing" manga I've read in a while. The Walking Man is a relax-core comic about a Japanese salaryman just taking it slow and enjoying being alive. That's it, he's just chill. I'm pretty sure the goal of the manga is to make you feel at peace too and/or embrace life for what it is and I'm not sure if it's good at doing that but this is completely subjective.
To me it lacked a little something to actually reach the goal. Maybe it's stilted if well drawn backgrounds, maybe it's lack of reletable characters or situations but to be this ended
up just a manga about a guy walking around and having a great time doing that. Kind of boring and pointless.
The Walking Man is a collection of stories about a man who walks around.
Each chapter is about 10 pages long and they all involve the observation of simple, everyday things and the appreciation of life. One chapters are about borrowing a video then lying underneath a Sakura tree. Another chapter is about the man walking down a track overtaking an older man, and subsequently getting overtaken by him, then overtaking him again, etc. It's simple. And that's what's good. There's not a lot of dialogue in the manga and that works to its advantage due to the top tier art. It doesn't have to spell
out anything for you because you will naturally understand it. Universal appeal.
The art for this manga, by the master Jiro Taniguchi, is perfect. Taniguchi's style is realistic and puts a lot of emphasis on environments. His characters look like real people, instead of idealised musclemen or anorexic bishounen. Large panels are extremely detailed and you can spend minutes looking at the art to try and find every minute detail, or just to admire the linework. His paneling is excellent, too. Taniguchi uses his panels to tell the story just as much as he does his artwork, and you can form a mental picture of how a scene would play out.
This is a 1 volume manga, and it that volume it managed to do far more than most other manga will do in 10 volumes. It's easy to understand what kind of a person the man is, what sort of life he has, his relationship with his wife, etc. And it's easy to understand what he's feeling at any given point. This is a masterpiece of storytelling and communicating emotions even though it's so basic.
What a wonderful surprise this story was. It may seem astounding to say this about a manga that features 18 chapters about a man talking walks outside, but I think this is a masterpiece, provided that you judge it for what it is and not compare it to mangas that simply don't belong in the same genre.
This isn't a story driven by characters, conflicts or big events. It is purely atmospheric & impressionistic, offering a lovely and soothing portrait of the simple, everday life of an ordinary, yet quite content business man. In this regard, the manga
does not only provide a wonderfully diverse and realistic insight into the life in a Japanese town, but also highlights the value of the little things, the ordinary things, the uneventful things that can contribute to a happy life. While some might find the idea of such a life boring, I cannot help to feel a little envious of the protagonist.
I'm sure I will re-read this manga many times in the future, simply to soak in the atmosphere and to imagine myself being in the protagonist's place, quite relaxed and content.