Friday, October 5, 2012

"Doing Time" by Kazuichi Hanawa

"Doing Time" by Kazuichi Hanawa is truly an unique and amazing document of life in a Japanese prison.   First of all there is hardly any narrative, but just the daily activity of a prisoner in his cell with the others, but beyond that it goes into almost fetish like detail about the food served in prison.  Which according to Hanawa is not bad, not bad at all!

There is also architectural design of the cells as well as a detailed account in what is in each cell.  How many towels a prisoner can keep, or how many books as well as observations on toilet practices and when and how one can take a bath.  Prison clothes is also shown in great detail, and how one folds their bed, shirts, pants and so forth.

In a way I am sort of reminded of a Robert Bresson film where you are seeing factual actions as they start their day to their bed time.  There is nothing harsh about this prison, in fact it looks nice in many ways.  But still one gets the impression of being locked up with others - and dealing with the issue of space, work and eating together.   Also there are flights of fantasy or surrealism, but it fits perfectly with the theme of the graphic novel, or more rightly this memoir.

Hanawa, the author and artist, was arrested for carrying and owning an illegal weapon - a gun.  Without a doubt the NRA would be tearing their hair out of their head's if they read this - but Hanawa doesn't make any bones or any thought of un-justice - life is what it is.  Without a doubt I feel this book is very much a masterpiece.

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