The Sureal Life of Johnny Hiro and Mayumi
I first read “Johnny Hiro” as a sample in The Best American Comics 2010, and it was the only selection in that anthology that impressed me enough to seek out the graphic novel. There was something infectiously happy about Johnny Hiro, his Japanese girlfriend Mayumi, and the hijinks as the sushi joint that made me want to read more.
While I thought this was going to be a twist on the slice-of-life-young-couple-in-New York genre, by page three of the collection I knew it was going to be completely different. While Johnny and Mayumi are asleep in their small apartment, the wall suddenly burst in and Mayumi is grabbed by Gozadilla, a giant monster out for revenge. It seems that Mayumi’s mother was once the arm in a Voltron-like giant robot called Super A-OK Robot who beat up on poor Gozadilla. I kept waiting for the familiar reveal that it was all a dream-sequence, but eventually you realize that this is real, and that this is the story, which makes it oh so good. Eventually Mayor Blomberg walks into save the day, but Johnny and Mayumi’s problems are just beginning.
This collection contains the four issues of the “Johnny Hiro” comic series, and each issue has some goofy delima mixed in with the very real worries of a young-couple-in-New York. Paying the rent. Keeping the jobs. Fighting off an attack by 47ronin employees of a company put out of business by a friend’s company’s IPO. Hanging with Coolio and David Byrne (Mayumi’s comment was classic “You look very handsome. Sit fit you nice.”) Catching with a giant tuna with chef Masago off the shores of Shikoku. Mayumi having troubles at work because of her perceived English skills. The restuarant being short of Aji. Johnny Hiro has some sort of strange karma that attracts weird troubles, and he is learning to roll with it.
So yeah, the series is a little bit sureal, a little bit sweet, a little bit goofy, a little bit cool, a little bit serious, and a little bit out-of-nowhere. But the whole packages comes together just right.