Book review by Sebastian Gahan
Ken Tanaka Loves You, I just thought you should know.
If you're not familiar with Ken Tanaka's delightfully crazy world of innocence, cute animals and adventures in Japan and Los Angeles amongst many other locations, maybe this book from the extremely handsome man himself will convince you to explore it a little more. Also an artist with some unique work under his belt, this book is a deceptively simple read that will really make you consider life itself.
Billed as a children's book for adults, it certainly fits that tone perfectly. The illustrations are just restrained enough to almost be a children's book, and the educational tone of the text is deceptively innocent enough to give the impression one has picked up a very open minded book that just happens to be aimed at younger persons. In fact, Tanaka himself states that he desires for children to read it to their "older children" and it certainly would be a pleasant read for clarification purposes alone.
In a matter of fact way, the books title says it all in two succinct words. Everybody Dies. Can you be more honest? I think not! To cite the book itself, even scary animals die. Cute animals too. Even your parents and pet cat won't be forever on this earth. Of course, there is a certain black humour present in the text too, as we are invited to inscribe our names on a tombstone at the end of the book along with an epitaph donated by a good friend. The somehow shocking statistic that one hundred and fifty people die every second is also revealed with a questioning "Are you still here?" following it neatly.
It is frankly impossible not to be affected by this book, in its universal theme and user friendly simplicity. Although some may question Tanaka's credentials as an artist - even his existence on occasion! - this book is proof that art can be truly affecting and entertaining without losing anything of its power. Although it's only having a limited initial run, I'm sure that with a bit of encouragement, many more people will be reading this frankly brilliant piece of work.
Read an interview with Ken Tanaka here if you're curious about the man himself!
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