Tomorrow’s Joe, the manga that changed everything – Danger Room

The publication of the manga by Asao Takamori and Tetsuya Chiba by Arechi Manga will mean a before and after in the publication of the manga in Spain

The publication of Ashita no Joe (Tomorrow’s Joe) by Arechi represents a before and after in the publication of manga in Spain. Some will see this statement as something exaggerated and will allude to the fact that the same could be said of titles such as Haikyu!! of Haruichi Furudate either Kingdom of Yasuhira Hara, which have a huge extension. But it is not even remotely the same, not only because these last two are relatively recent and best sellers that only needed ‘editorial muscle’ or the confidence that Japanese cartoons connect with a wide audience dedicated to their narrations, a circumstance that has been endorsed with the global sales of works such as tokyo avengers of Ken Wakui, My Hero Academia of Kohei Horikoshi or his own Haikyu!!, among others, also, and above all, because with Ashita no Joe we are talking about a 1968 manga published in Shonen Magazine that changed the way of telling stories, while representing the mood of its time with a modernity that, read today, still disarms and takes on a greater validity.

For something in the book Marc Barnabas (he is the translator of this manga) and Oriol Estrada (He is the champion of the publication of this title in Spanish) 501 manga to read in Spanish were writing: “We make an act of faith with this file since, at the time of writing it, it is not published in Spanish nor is there a license announcement or even an announcement of intentions to publish it by any publisher. However, we are convinced that sooner or later we will be able to read it in our language. This, together with the fact that absolutely nothing has been published in Spanish by the author Tetsuya Chiba, one of the most fundamental in the history of manga, has made us take the decision to review this work preventively.”.

And yes, that moment has come thanks to the decision of Arechi and its editor Carlos Miralles. And yes, everything that has been described about Ashita no Joe is not only true, but read with today’s eyes, it is dimensioned by the narrative strength that this first volume unfolds, which according to those who have read it is growing. take by take We are facing a kind of ‘manga river’, very, very modern, with a very expressive drawing full of findings and resources so contemporary that one thinks of that distant 1968, a year of student revolts and a social implication of change that this manga transmits with the same energy shown by the protagonist of the story, Joe Yabuki, a charismatic orphan, a homeless man, a 15-year-old boy who must find a life, a survivor, who unwittingly becomes an icon of a society ( or of a world) who thought that things could be transformed.

The context of the time is important, which is why one cannot lose sight of the fact that 1968 is the year of the social movements that took place throughout the world. The famous French May, the Prague Spring, the Cultural Revolution in China, the protests against the Vietnam War and civil rights in the United States… and of course this has its reflection in Japan. In one way or another they are revolts that feed off each other.

Joe del Mañana Arechi

In the 1960s, the country of the rising sun was shaken by numerous student uprisings in a context of growth and westernization. But focusing on Ashita no Joe and the cultural formation of manga, this expression was very influential at the time, the young people who demonstrated for their ideas in that 1968 had been reading manga all their lives. As was the case all over the planet, manga reading was considered to be aimed at children. But the Japanese university elite read manga and took their characters as figures that symbolized their desires or the spirit with which they faced the problems they had. In other words, Ashita no Joe has a clear social impact, while representing a different, more adult way of approaching graphic narration.

We have already established the coordinates in which the protagonist of Ashita no Joe, Joe Yabuki, that boy without parents, poor, tenacious, who has to fight against all possible imponderables through such hard and intense training both physically and spiritually. The social criticism component crosses the entire story and presents very surprising analyzes from a contemporary reading, clearly opening the doors to a manga aimed at a wide audience, which will evolve as it progresses.

The screenwriter Asao Takamori (His real name was Ikki Kajiwara) and the cartoonist Tetsuya Chiba spread a dynamic, expressive style that naturally combines genres (from slapstick to social, without forgetting certain literary touches and an obvious Dickensian echo in all the adventures of Joe and the neighborhood kids), in which the characters move with freedom in an impressive game between background and form, of landscape and peasantry of the work so that everything superfluous is relegated, as if Joe Yabuki’s adventures actually arose in a natural/vital way. I don’t think it’s fair to ascribe it exclusively to sports manga, because the implication and scope of it goes further. And it is that the authors of Ashita no Joe penetrate through that young man who trains to become a boxer in the deepest part of the collective consciousness of a historical moment. Or put another way, he immerses himself in the labyrinths and human frailties with a level of empathy that that state of mind survives and celebrates and claims its rightful place, because perhaps in today’s world it still makes more sense to read Ashita no Joe.