After reading The Demon Ororon by Hakase Mizuki, I wanted to read more of her work. Not only was the story she told captivating but her art work unique: a mix of elongated figures drawn with elegant lines mixed with close-up details of falling tears or broken smiles.
I fell in love with The Demon Ororon and its bittersweet love story, so when I came across Asian Beat at my local bookstore I jumped at the chance to read it. Asian Beat has four stories, all of which tie together with their themes of struggling lonely people and what it takes to survive.
The first one is “The Town Where Snow Falls” and tells the story of a Jr. High girl who lives with her stepmother and siblings. When she gets kicked out of her house, she runs across an older man who takes her home. Between their silent need to fill the loneliness and what their realities truly are they connect.
Reality is harsh, and, when forgiveness and acceptance come, they aren’t always what we would like them to be. But this, by far, is my favorite of the collection, another bittersweet tale that tugs the heart strings.
“Asian Beat,” the story from which the collection takes its name, is next. It’s the story of a brother and sister and what the brother is willing to do to protect her. By selling drugs, the older brother comes into contact with the perfect high school student, one of those kids expected to go far, who with all the pressure has turned to stimulants to give him an edge.
In “The Gray Town,” a beautiful girl is an outcast. When she is picked on once too often and has a favorite stuffed toy stolen, she responds in an unexpected way. And in “The Scar,” a boy who was destroyed by the suicide of his mother still struggles with day-to-day life.
Asian Beat is a brilliant, if brutal, collection of stories that bring broken people to the forefront: the kind of stories that are familiar and will touch a bit of your soul.