I am not really sure how I feel about the picture book, Tokyo Night Parade. After read I noticed there were several layers and the art needed its own reading. Taken on the surface, it is a sweet story about a young girl who wants to spend time with old friends from Japan, ones she has not seen since moving to New York. These friends are a bit different though, as they are the demons of Japanese folklore. And our young hero cannot see them except for one special night when the veil between the two worlds overlap.
However, once you read J. P. Takahashi’s afterwards, you realize that there is something deeper happening. The theme is that Eka is not so much worried about never seeing her friends again, as living in New York is expensive as is the trip from New York to Japan so it cannot be taken often, but the loss of her beloved grandfather. Who only makes two small, yet very important, appearances in the actual swing of things.
The illustrations of Minako Tomigahara are interesting. Normally, the computerized looking imagery is not “my thing.” Yet, the cartoon-like images are fun, light and take a bit away from the spooky nature of things. The colors are soft, sweet, but also have the shadows and look of the night. There is also the concept of “are you a good or bad demon/human” at play and these illustrations tone down that thoughtful question, because as Eka says, maybe there are no easy answers, so having the easy to view imagery is a nice tough.
Read via an online reader copy, Tokyo Night Parade is due mid October 2023, I will find a finished copy as I am curious not only what the final product will look like, but I am the type of reader who will read online but needs the physical copy to get into all the nooks and crannies.