10 books like Phoenix, Vol. 4

By Osamu Tezuka,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Phoenix, Vol. 4. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Chrysanthemum and the Bat

By Robert Whiting,

Book cover of The Chrysanthemum and the Bat: Baseball Samurai Style

This book, Whiting’s first, appeared around 1976/7 and went through several editions. The title was a subtle parody of anthropologist Ruth Benedict’s 1946 classic, The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns of Japanese culture. I read it around the time I was writing my first book, Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese comics, and it was a great inspiration. It did with baseball what I was trying to do with Japanese comics—show how Japanese were interpreting something with which North Americans were very familiar (baseball and comics) in very different ways.

In my case, manga provided an entertaining, non-didactic way to look not only at Japanese use of comics but at some broader cultural issues. Conversely, it could even be seen as a way to look at American comics and culture.

The Chrysanthemum and the Bat

By Robert Whiting,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Chrysanthemum and the Bat as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Giving Up the Gun

By Noel Perrin,

Book cover of Giving Up the Gun

This very short book came out in 1979, and it had quite an impact on me. It showed how writing about Japanese history and culture could not only be entertaining and fascinating, but extremely useful. The book focuses on how guns were imported into Japan in 1543 and spread widely, but were then largely abandoned. At a time during the Cold War, when nuclear weapons seemed to be proliferating endlessly, it also hinted at a different future, where what seemed so inevitable, might not be so.  

Giving Up the Gun

By Noel Perrin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Giving Up the Gun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a significant story, and Perrin tells it marvelously well, with rich detail, captivating quotations from observers of the time, both Japanese and Western, and a wealth of revealing comparisons with contemporary technology, warfare, and life in Europe. This little book is both thought-provoking and a delight to read. Edwin O. Reischauer, Former U.S. Ambassador to Japan


Hojoki

By Kamo-no-Chomei, Michael Hofmann (illustrator), Yasuhiko Moriguchi (translator), David Jenkins (translator)

Book cover of Hojoki: Visions of a Torn World

This book is by a Japanese poet and Buddhist priest in the 12th century, who rejected life in the capital of Kyoto for a tiny hut in forested mountains. At a time when Kyoto was wracked by earthquakes, storms, fires, and political unrest, he records his life and his opinions about both human misery and the advantages of simplicity. It has always been an inspiration to me. It’s a small book of fewer than 100 pages, easy to carry around, but always somehow calming.

Hojoki

By Kamo-no-Chomei, Michael Hofmann (illustrator), Yasuhiko Moriguchi (translator), David Jenkins (translator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hojoki as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Japan's capital city of Kyoto was devastated by earthquake, storm, and fire in the late 12th century. Retreating from "this unkind world," the poet and Buddhist priest Kamo-no-Chomei left the capital for the forested mountains, where he eventually constructed his famous "ten-foot-square" hut. From this solitary vantage point Chomei produced Hojoki, an extraordinary literary work that describes all he has seen of human misery and his new life of simple chores, walks, and acts of kindness. Yet at the end he questions his own sanity and the integrity of his purpose. Has he perhaps grown too attached to his detachment?


Ranald MacDonald

By William S. Lewis (editor), Naojiro Murakami (editor),

Book cover of Ranald MacDonald

At the start of the 1990s, I discovered a dusty, original edition of this book at my local library. Published in 1923 and reprinted in 1990, it tells the story of Ranald MacDonald (1824-1894)—a half Chinook and half Scot from today’s Astoria, Oregon—who may be the first North American to go to Japan alone, of his own volition. Heavily edited and annotated from his original manuscript, it is a complex story, partly because many of his words were posthumously re-written by a friend. This created a twelve-year obsession for me—to research and untangle the true story as it relates to Japan. MacDonald became my hero. In 1993, I dedicated one book (America and the Four Japans: Friend, Foe, Model, Mirror) to him. In 2003, I finally finished my own book about him: Native American in the Land of the Shogun: Ranald MacDonald and the Opening of…

Ranald MacDonald

By William S. Lewis (editor), Naojiro Murakami (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ranald MacDonald as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

rare and collectible biography of Ranald Macdonald's life. book has been reprinted, but this is the original


Cross Game, Volume 1

By Mitsuru Adachi,

Book cover of Cross Game, Volume 1

I love Mitsuru Adachi for his masterful storytelling and playful touch. Comics are all about choosing the right moments to string into sequences, and Adachi has a knack for choosing surprising moments without losing the clarity of the story. He's had a huge influence on my work. A story about two friends: an ace pitcher and an ace batter, and their rivalry for love and victory on the baseball field. Behind this epic baseball drama is a wonderful story about the couple that could never be.

Cross Game, Volume 1

By Mitsuru Adachi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cross Game, Volume 1 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Cross Game is a moving drama that is heartfelt and true, yet in the brilliant hands of manga artist Mitsuru Adachi, delightfully flows with a light and amusing touch. The series centers around a boy named Ko, the family of four sisters who live down the street and the game of baseball. This poignant coming-of-age story will change your perception of what shonen manga can be.


Mushishi 1

By Yuki Urushibara,

Book cover of Mushishi 1

Mushishi is possibly my favorite comic of all time. It doesn’t just use the environment as storyteller, but tells stories about environments in a way you wouldn’t expect. Though it’s a series of stories about people and their relationships, neither are divorced from the world itself. I cannot recommend this series enough and it is a huge influence on my own work.

Mushishi 1

By Yuki Urushibara,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mushishi 1 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THEY HAVE EXISTED SINCE THE DAWN OF TIME.

Some live in the deep darkness behind your eyelids. Some eat silence. Some thoughtlessly kill. Some simply drive men mad. Shortly after life emerged from the primordial ooze, these deadly creatures, mushi, came into terrifying being. And they still exist and wreak havoc in the world today. Ginko, a young man with a sardonic smile, has the knowledge and skill to save those plagued by mushi . . . perhaps.


Princess Jellyfish, Volume 1

By Akiko Higashimura,

Book cover of Princess Jellyfish, Volume 1

This series turns the “tortured outcast” trope on its head: these nerd characters are proud to be outcasts, and the one thing they don't want to be associated with is beautiful, popular people! I love this story because I, too, once fell into the “us vs. them” mentality against people I thought were too cool for me as a youth— people who could have potentially become my best friends! This manga series beautifully celebrates how we are all different, but still might have more in common than we think.

Princess Jellyfish, Volume 1

By Akiko Higashimura,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Princess Jellyfish, Volume 1 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Two very different worlds collide in this hit manga series by Akiko Higashimura! Tsukimi Kurashita has a strange fascination with jellyfish. She's loved them from a young age and has carried that love with her to her new life in the big city of Tokyo. There, she resides in Amamizukan, a safe-haven for girl geeks - the last place she'd expect to meet a fashionable socialite! There's much more to this woman than her trendy clothes, though. Their odd encounter is only the beginning of a new and unexpected path for Tsukimi and her friends.


Tekkonkinkreet / Black & White

By Taiyo Matsumoto, Lillian Olsen (translator),

Book cover of Tekkonkinkreet / Black & White

Tekkonkinkreet has more raw energy than any comic I’ve ever read, like in my own book it’s the story of 2 brothers who think they’re invincible and make a lot of mistakes in the heat of the moment. The book is relentless and breaks every possible rule and is just an absolute marvel of comic storytelling.

Tekkonkinkreet / Black & White

By Taiyo Matsumoto, Lillian Olsen (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tekkonkinkreet / Black & White as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Orphaned on the mean streets of Treasure Town, lost boys Black and White must mug, steal and fight to survive. Around them moves a world of corruption and loneliness, small-time crooks and neurotic police officers, and a band of sadistic yakuza who have plans for their once-fair city. Can they rise above their environment? Surreal manga influenced by European comics.

TEKKONKINKREET is a play on Japanese words meaning "a concrete structure with an iron frame," and it suggests the opposing images of concrete cities against the strength of imagination.


The Art of Fullmetal Alchemist

By Hiromu Arakawa,

Book cover of The Art of Fullmetal Alchemist

This is an art book that showcases the masterful craft of an artist who knows how to weave souls into their characters and worlds. Her titles made me laugh, cry, jump up from my seat, and the characters and concepts in the pages of this book make me re-live these moments again and again. She uses a very unusual gouache technique, unlike any other manga artist I know of. The precision and determination in every stroke are stunning, and a book I believe any aspiring artist should have in their library.

The Art of Fullmetal Alchemist

By Hiromu Arakawa,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Art of Fullmetal Alchemist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Original art from series creator, Hiromu Arakawa; Somewhere between science, magic and art lies Fullmetal Alchemist!

Translated faithfully from the Japanese edition, this coffee table book contains all the Fullmetal Alchemist color artwork by manga artist Hiromu Arakawa from 2001 to 2003. The Art of Fullmetal Alchemist contains over 90 pages of gorgeous painted illustrations, including all the title pages as printed in color in the Japanese magazine Shonen Gangan; Japanese tankobon (graphic novel) and promotional artwork, with source listings; portraits of the main characters; and character designs from the PS2 game Fullmetal Alchemist and the Broken Angel.

Includes a…


Himawari House

By Harmony Becker,

Book cover of Himawari House

I was absolutely delighted by this young adult graphic novel which details three Asian girls’ lives as they live and study in Japan. One is from America, one from Korea, and one from Singapore, and each has such a profound story to tell about their path to self-acceptance and personal freedom. 

Himawari House

By Harmony Becker,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Himawari House as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A young adult graphic novel about three foreign exchange students and the pleasures, and difficulties, of adjusting to living in Japan.

Living in a new country is no walk in the park-Nao, Hyejung, and Tina can all attest to that. The three of them became fast friends through living together in the Himawari House in Tokyo and attending the same Japanese cram school. Nao came to Japan to reconnect with her Japanese heritage, while Hyejung and Tina came to find freedom and their own paths. Though each of them has her own motivations and challenges, they all deal with language…


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