all photos courtesy Setagaya Literary Museum
The prolific Japanese manga artist Jiro Taniguchi, who passed away in 2017, left behind an immense body of work that continues to be admired both in his home country but also abroad. In Japan, he is perhaps best known for his illustrations in Kodoku no Gourmet (“Solitary Gourmet”), a cuisine manga written by Masayuki Qusumi. But his solo works like Aruku hito (“The Walking Man”) and Haruka na machi e (“A Distant Neighborhood”) had to travel overseas to really shine. A large-scale exhibition in Tokyo reflects on the craftsmanship, details and compositions that went into Taniguchi’s work using over 300 original drawings.
Jiro Taniguchi took inspiration from Franco-Belgian comic artists like Mœbius and François Schuiten, and it was in Europe where his works found more of a mainstream audience. He was been knighted by the French government and titled in Italy. It was perhaps his success overseas that pushed those back home to take a closer look. And a closer look they deserve.
Taniguchi’s works are characterized by his use of simple lines, his ability to capture expressions and his attention to detail. His body of work traverses genres from historical and crime to science fiction and even fantasy. As a storyteller, he creates Zen-like introspective heroes who don’t make for splashy covers or collectible figurines but are modern-day portraits of humans.