My first exposure to Takeshi Kitano as a writer, Boy is a compilation of three short stories about boyhood adolescence with aspects of coming-of-age drama. The three stories are: “The Champion in the Padded Kimono,” a tale about two brothers with different strengths and opinions about the yearly Sports Day festival at their school; “Nest of Stars,” another pair of brothers dealing with the prospect of relocating to a new home and forming a new family unit take solace in amateur astronomy as a way to to stay close to their absent father; “Okamesan,” a young student, and amateur historian, takes a trip to the country for an expedition when he meets a girl unlike any other he has ever encountered.
Knowing that the stories were written by Kitano did temper my digestion of the content a bit, I came to visualize the words into storyboards and could see how they may have been shot for the screen. Aside from Nest of Stars, the stories actually lend themselves quite well to screenplay adaptation. The stories are quick reads, around 60 pages each, and swiftly get to the meat of the theme of boyhood. Characters are easy for the reader to identify with, and I’d imagine that many of these experiences would be familiar to many young men, as well as Kitano himself. Tackling ideas like loneliness, bullying, sadness, happiness, young love, and freedom, the shorts contained herein do not seem to offer much than one off anecdotes on the surface, but taken as a whole, offer a glimpse into childhood through the eyes of one of Japan’s greatest entertainers. Intimate and funny, I’d certainly recommend this book to fans of Kitano and I’m certain even non-fans will find much to like about this interesting compilation. As a note, the hardcover features some Kitano art beneath the dust jacket.
192 pages. Published by Vertical, Inc. Translated by David James Karashima.