This is going to be a rather short review with some spoilers.
This graphic novel is beautiful. Full of sweeping scenes from Japanese mythology, and a young man’s trip to visit his grandfather in Japan.
The book begins in Brooklyn as a biracial young man, Ichiro, is getting ready to travel with his mother to Japan where she is taking a new job. There’s a chance it might bring a permanent position, which adds to Ichiro’s anxiety about the trip. Ichiro’s grandfather lives in Hiroshima and also has a house in the country. He takes his grandson to see the sights, learn more about Japanese culture, and help him through this rough time.
Yet, about halfway through the book, Ichiro enters the land of the gods. It is there that I got somewhat lost. He’s fighting a host of demons and warriors that connect to the battle between Ichiro’s American self and his Japanese self. But, it was confusing and at one point I about gave up and just started looking at the stunning artwork. I picked the story back up at the end when Ichiro returns to reality. These bookended sections, the 1st 1/3 and last 1/3, are much easier to understand. The narrative in the ‘Alice in Wonderland’ section was jumbled.
Ichiro covers themes of war, youth, and the bifurcation of self. A good premise, yet loses focus.