Turning Japanese by Cathy Yardley

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Turning Japanese by Cathy Yardley

Yardley, Cathy. Turning Japanese. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2009. ISBN 978-0312378806 310 pp. $

***

This is sort of the Devil Wears Prada with less angst and drama, set in Japan: girl takes internship in publishing field with her hard-to-get-along-with boss; conflict with boyfriend and family ensue.

Italian/Japanese American Lisa hates to travel and dislikes change, but it doesn’t stop her from entering a manga drawing contest where the first prize is a one-year internship in Japan with a manga publishing house. At first she just erases pencil lines, then conspires to help another editor and unknown artist to create a comic that is part American, part Japanese–just like her. Culture shock abounds in a myriad of ways: a complicated written language, conflicts with her supervisor and a prima donna manga creator, conflicts with her host family.

Yardley starts out strong with great anecdotes about attending Comic Con and getting lost once in Tokyo, ending up in the red-light district at a love hotel. The initial snarky edginess disappears bit in the day-to-day office grind and repeated conflicts with the family. Supporting characters lack depth, and there is some predictability to the story.

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