There are so many reasons I enjoyed this book: the good/evil struggle, the outrageous characters, the interesting dynamic of Treasure Town, the parallels to our own world/culture/society…the list goes on. Mostly I fell in love with Black and White, the unusual “protagonists” (in scare quotes because Black is considered evil by most of the characters) of the story. They’re tough as nails and scary as hell, but Matsumoto manages to cast them as sympathetic characters nonetheless. (What does it say about me that I understood and identified with Black more than White?)
This book left me thinking…and I haven’t figured it out yet. In fact, I’m really looking forward to the book club discussion of this one because I’d love to hear what others are thinking with regard to some of the things Matsumoto’s narrative left me pondering. For instance, I’m really interested by the animal dynamic underlying all the different groups of people in Treasure Town (rats, cats, etc.) — what’s the larger significance outside of the obvious symbolism? There seems to be something deeper at work here. Also, I’m interested in the book’s commentary on contemporary youth culture. I’m sure Matsumoto is aiming his critique at the youth in Japan, but I think there’s a lot of resonance here with American urban youth culture as well. I’ve been thinking about that as well. Finally, I’m not sure what to make of the three “assassins” who show up in Treasure Town partway through the story. I’m curious about the mysterious language they speak, about what they stand for, about who they’re really working for, and about why they are so interested in destroying certain people and things in Treasure Town. I guess I’m also curious about who their boss is. There’s one more thing: I’m also curious about the role of Greek and Christian mythologies as they intersect with Black, White, Gramps, and the overall conflicts plaguing Treasure Town.
All this is to say that I loved this book because it made me think. It got me curious and left me wondering…two qualities I love in any book. And for a 614-page graphic narrative, this one was really a quick read.