cover image They Called Us Enemy

They Called Us Enemy

George Takei et al. Top Shelf, $19.99 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-60309-450-4

Takei, best known for his role on Star Trek, relates the story of his family’s internment during WWII in this moving and layered graphic memoir. Japanese-Americans were classified as “Alien Enemy” after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and were forced to relocate to camps when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. Takei, who was five years old, along with his father, mother, and young siblings, was held from 1942 through January 1946, first at Camp Rohwer, Arkansas, and then later at Tule Lake, Calif.. The manga-influenced art by Harmony Becker juxtaposes Takei’s childlike wonder over the “adventure” of the train trip with the stress and worry carried by his parents. As much as possible, Takei’s parents took pains to ensure their children were shielded from the reality of their situation, though Takei still relates traumas and humiliations (and a few funny stories). It was only years later, during talks with his father, that Takei was given insight into his past. As a teenager, Takei lashes out in anger over the treatment of Japanese-Americans, and his father calmly states that “despite all that we’ve experienced, our Democracy is still the best in the world.” Takei takes that lesson to heart in a stirring speech he delivers at the FDR Library on the 75th anniversary of the Day of Remembrance. Using parallel scenes from Trump’s travel ban, in the closing pages, Takei challenges Americans to look to how past humanitarian injustices speak to current political debates. Giving a personal view into difficult history, Takei’s work is a testament to hope and tenacity in the face of adversity. (July)