Daily Graphic Novel Recommendation 43

The Walking Man

by Jirô Taniguchi
Genre notes: walking, also strolling
160 pages
ISBN: 8493340995 (Amazon)

On reading Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog, I was reminded, in some ways, of a much better book—if one that is entirely different. The younger of the two narrative forces in Barbery’s book, the genius twelve-year-old Paloma, expresses a fondness for the works of Jiro Taniguchi (specifically his Summit of the Gods). I’ve been a fan of Taniguchi myself for some time, though it’s difficult to find his stuff on American shores.

Unlike Barbery’s Hedgehog, the only way one could possibly find Taniguchi’s The Walking Man pretentious is by suspecting its utter lack of pretension. The work is sumptuous and gorgeously rendered. And more than anything, it serves as a simple reflection on the world around us, both man-made and otherwise.

The Walking Man follows a nameless protagonist as he takes casual strolls around his city, simply taking in the wonder that is found in every mundane thing. There is no single narrative arc to follow unless one considers the glorification of the contemplative life through a series of vignettes to constitute an arc. The walking man is healthy, intelligent, careful, attentive, and the social member of a loving relationship. One cannot be certain where he finds the time or by what method he carves it from his schedule because Taniguchi doesn’t allow the work to even broach the matter.

The Walking Man is only concerned with the Walking Man and just how much he walks.

In its way Taniguchi’s sparsely worded compilation of small journeys is as profound as Barbery’s wordy relishment of language and philosophy is. And amusingly enough, the lesson is the same: take time to discover beauty in the movement of the world.

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