Review: Japan Ai

Title: Japan Ai: A tall girl’s adventures in Japan
Author: Aimee Major Steinberger
Publisher: Go! Comi (2007)
Genre: illustrated nonfiction, travel guide, manga/graphic novel

In Their Words:
Join Aimee Major Steinberger (a professional animator with a passion for all things cute) on the ultimate otaku vacation! Visit fantasy restaurants, maid cafes, and the world’s most exclusive doll store! Cosplay on the infamous Harajuku Street! Attend an outrageous all-female Takarazuku musical! See beautiful shrines, hot springs, stores full of manga, and so much more! Aimee captures it all in a manga journal that is both adorable and breathtaking!

In Mine:
While I could stand for a few less exclamation marks, the summary above mostly does the book justice: it does outline what is pretty much the ideal fan-vacation to Japan. The book is also filled with very useful and accurate information about Japanese culture. It covers a lot of terms I learned in high school and college Japanese classes, and does it  without being overwhelming or sounding like a text book. Having been to Japan myself, I could identify with Aimee’s troubles, and so many of her experiences lined up with my own. A must-have for any fan of anime/manga/lolita, any student of Japanese, and anyone planning to visit Japan.

The illustrations are adorable, and almost always hilarious. However, the actually interior design of the book is kind of sloppy. Some page layouts are a bit iffy and could have been balanced better, and far too often part of the illustration get lost in the fold of the book. I almost broke the spine a few times trying to find a detail that had been lost. There’s also a sort of flow problem. Mostly it follows a consistent narrative, but occasionally there are random illustrations that seem to come out of no-where. I’m ok with them, but I wish the designer had done something different with those pages, so that it didn’t feel so jarring.

Final Rating:
5/5. Loved it, want to force it all all my Japan-loving friends.

About Lucy

If you want to get fancy, Lucy lives in Portland, OR, and has a MA in Writing/Book Publishing, with a focus on Young Adult Literature, and a heaping disregard for literary snobbishness (she was an English Major–she’s seen and spouted her fair share). She works as a social media marketer, and has dabbled in developmental editing as a freelancer.
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2 Responses to Review: Japan Ai

  1. spazzerbot says:

    I loved this book as well, and I agree with disliking the illustrations that are cut by the fold.
    I hope you’ll do an equally fantastic review of her next book ‘Cosplay Ai’ as well.

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