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Comics Review: My Japanese Husband (STILL) Thinks I’m Crazy

My Japanese Husband Thinks I’m Crazy and the forthcoming followup, My Japanese Husband (STILL) Thinks I’m Crazy are a series of comic books by Grace Buchele Mineta, an American blogger and freelance writer living with her Japanese husband in Tokyo. Mineta explores the humor and small insights to be found in her day-to-day life through her endearing, largely single-panel comics, complemented by explanations of expat life in Japan.

In her second book, Mineta continues to use humor to explore the issues that naturally abound when two unique people create their own version of family life. The humor is more of what Mineta’s readers have come to appreciate. From debates over the appropriate length of time to allow dishes to “soak” in the sink, to the culturally-dependent calculation of the length of the human gestational period, My Japanese Husband (STILL) Thinks I’m Crazy does not disappoint.

Mineta grows deeper thematically in the followup, sharing her struggles with anxiety, depression, and the difficulties of living in a foreign country in which one is completely dependent upon one’s partner. She writes openly about her frustration with the misunderstandings and occasional racism directed towards herself and her husband.

Much of what keeps me laughing aloud through the series is my ability to relate to Mineta’s experiences as an American woman living in Japan, through both my familiarity with Japanese life and my experience of being treated as a walking anthropology project (while living in Nagoya, I even had a doctor assume that my preference for a topical, rather than oral, medication must be due to my Americanness, when in fact my preference was due to the effectiveness of the medication). In her comics, Mineta turns the anthropology project on its head and examines American-Japanese cultural differences from the intimate perspective of her own intercultural marriage. However, Mineta’s emotive experiences will be recognized not only by those familiar with the Japanese/American dynamic, but to any intercultural couple or anyone who has lived abroad at some point in their lives.

There is clearly room for further growth in both artistry and storytelling. Mineta, waxing self-reflective in a narrative portion of the book, seems aware of the space into which she is growing. She writes, “At some point you just have to let go… knowing full well you might look back in a couple years and be embarrassed by the finished product.” Mineta is clearly a talented comic artist, and her gift for both humor and feeling in personal narrative is evident. If Mineta is in fact someday embarrassed, it will be only from the perspective of the gifted artist and storyteller she has become. I look forward to watching her career progress.

My Japanese Husband (STILL) Thinks I’m Crazy will be available on Amazon on 2/16/2015.

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