Hanakua Hero: A True Plantation Story

P.Y. Iwasaki and Berido, Bess (www.besspress.com), $12.95 (80p) ISBN 978-157306-321-0
In the late 19th century, a shortage of labor for the sugar plantations on the islands of Hawaii and difficult economic circumstances in Japan made for a synergistic coupling: thousands of Japanese (mostly young men) left for Hawaii. According to Iwasaki's young adult history tale, those immigrant workers didn't exactly find an immigrants' paradise. Relegated to the most grueling plantation work under frequently cruel bosses, the young Katsu Goto, like other workers, tried to get off the treadmill by opening a store and becoming a businessman. Goto's success, and status as a leader of immigrant workers agitating against miserable working conditions, unfortunately enrages some of the white locals, who look for retribution. Iwasaki's story, though told in vividly juvenile style by artist Berido, is a straight history lesson, with all the attendant pluses and minuses of the genreā€”fascinating subtext being one of the former, and a tendency toward excessive literalness and footnotes being one of the latter. Although very local in its focus, this is a smart piece of immigrant history. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 11/08/2010
Release date: 09/01/2010
Genre: Comics
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