Yukichi Yamamatsu was “a 56-year-old out-of-work manga artist” looking for a way to make it big when he came up with the idea of selling Hindi translations of Manga books in India.
In 2004, Yamamatsu left Japan and travelled to India. He could speak little English, no Indian language and had never left his country. From the moment he landed in India, Yamamatsu was in for a cultural shock of epic proportions. He had little money and no idea what to expect but what he did have was a ‘ missionary zeal' to spread the Japanese Manga culture in India.
Stupid Guy Goes to India is a graphic novel in Manga style that records Yamamatsu's Indian experience. Brutally honest and hilarious, the book is a visual treat with beautifully drawn art.
“This is an autobiographical account of my adventures, both the pleasant and not-so-pleasant,” he says. As you travel with Yamamatsu, you see him navigate the sometimes-friendly, sometimes-brutal streets of Indian towns and cities. Buying sandals becomes a daunting adventure and renting an apartment seems to be an insurmountable problem. Initially, Yamamatsu is a hapless Japanese tourist unable to communicate with the locals, often tricked and conned, more confused and overwhelmed than anything else.
But, as time passes and he grows more comfortable, Yamamatsu begins making friends, picking up a little Hindi as well as the art of bargaining. There are hilarious tongue-in-cheek accounts of him playing marbles, searching for bathrooms, betting on horses and visiting a brothel. The book is irreverent and witty, presenting India exactly as it would look and seem to a first-time foreign visitor. Yamamatsu says that he was fascinated by Indian culture and its people. “I think Indians are very intelligent and friendly. I didn't know a word of Hindi, but they still made me feel at home, with a simple hello.”
The book was first published in Japan and, to preserve the formatting of the original Japanese version, it is bound on the right side and is meant to be read from right to left. Published by Blaft Publications, the book is translated by Kumar Sivasubramanian, an Indian-born Canadian who has translated over 60 volumes of manga from Japanese to English.
Bottomline: For those not familiar with Manga, this is a great place to start.
Stupid Guy goes to India; Yukichi Yamamatsu, Translated by Kumar Sivasubramanian, Blaft Publications, Rs. 395