Have you read Craig Thompson yet? And I swear I’m not cheating by putting the name of an artist here instead of a list of comics. It’s not like I don’t have a list. Pfft… How could you even think that? It’s just that the list is two specific books by Craig Thompson – Blankets and Habibi. In that particular order.
Blankets by Craig Thompson
Habibi by Craig Thompson
Thompson’s work, I believe, exemplifies comics as an art. I don’t know where to start talking about it – the exotic stories or the art that merges seamlessly into words. The ink splattered goodness is so heavenly, you can literally tear off every page of the comic (if you have the heart to), get them framed and hang them on your walls. I have lost count of the number of seconds (err… minutes) I have spent lost in a single page while reading the book. And not just while reading, but afterwords. Like googling a quote you’re itching to remember, I’m often stuck looking for a particular page from one of the books, or trying to replicate it by drawing it myself when I can’t get enough of it.
Books are supposed to teleport us into worlds different from our own. Most do it through stories and in novels, the writing style makes all of it happen. Comics, on the other hand, become a double-edged sword. While the images might complement the story, they might even be distracting for the reader, because there is a lot of input to the brain, the flashy images, the stills, the dialog boxes and the words themselves. Craig Thompson executes the style perfectly; so that you feel like the protagonist is holding your hand and leading you through all the confusion that is their story while still have time to swoon over the art.
Then their is the story. Or stories. All of them. The ones I have read till now and the ones I am saving for later, all of them justify the beautiful art they are soaked in. Be it Blankets, where Craig weaves you a story of his first love, each thread spun with nostalgia, or Habibi, a story of slaves and sheikhs as bitter as folklore. If the art is beautiful, the stories enchanting, and tempting you to peak into the future by turning just a few pages.
Even if you don’t read comics, I would urge you to make this one author an exception. If you’re looking for a comfortable spot to edge into the comic world, this is a good way to ease your foot in the door. For starters, I’ll recommend Blankets. And only of you absolutely love Thompson’s style, move to Habibi.
While Blankets is at the end a story – a fond remembrance of Thompson’s first love, Habibi is more of an artistic expression. At many places, it feels like a peak into the author’s mind and his drawing style rather than just a story. I liked the book, but a huge reason behind it is my admiration for Thompson’s art, which made occasional expansions and digressions in the book interesting as it let him expand on how he draws. But for readers who are just interested in the story, these diversions just put them off. In Blankets, the pace of the story is more suited to the readers.
So the verdict is, read Blankets for sure. And if you feel like you start craving more of Thompson’s style, give Habibi a shot.
Let me warn you first. There is a huge side effect of visiting the One Piece Tower. And that is a strong unbeatable urge to rewatch the entire damn series from episode 1. If you are a One Piece fan, you would know how dangerous this could be for your social life. I couldn’t fight it and now I’m stuck in Baratie waiting for Enies Lobby to happen and all those feels to hit again. So, consider yourself warned.
If you’re travelling on a Tokyo Metro pass, you can take the Hibiya Line to Kamiyachou station and then walk towards the Tokyo Tower (700 meter walk). The red tower is really easy to spot so you wouldn’t have much trouble.
Alternatively, if Toei line works too, you can take the Toei Mita line to Onarimon station (850 meter walk to Tokyo Tower) or the Toei Oedo Line to Akananebashi Station (650 meter walk after that).
One Piece museum globe exhibition in front of Tokyo Tower
Tips before you go
Try and get the tickets online here if you want to save on the 200 yen.
If you can, take atleast one person with you so you don’t have to randomly ask strangers to get that pic with Law. Go on a One Piece fan hunt if you have to. Going alone is not that bad either, just a little inconvenient
Check the timing of the live show when you reach and keep it in mind so you don’t miss it. There are machines near the entrance of the show where you can get tickets in advance and you need those tickets to get in. On a day with more rush, don’t forget to get those tickets as soon as you reach.
I cannot begin to describe what the One Piece tower meant to me. It was an afternoon of wonder and pleasant surprises. There are a lot of activities so maybe going in a group will help. But if the group is devoid of One Piece fans, you’ll find yourself in many awkward overexcited situations with your companions giving you a blank look probably rethinking your friendship.
The one piece segment spans three floors of the Tokyo Tower. The entrance ticket costs JPY3000 if you get it online and JPY3200 on spot. It is a horde of picture points and games. The picture spots made me regret going there alone a little but it was a successful visit nonetheless. There was one game for every member of the crew and also, a live show.
As soon as you enter, after watching a 360 degree theater with heartfelt scenes from across all seasons of the series, you end up in a dark room with the Strawhats lurking in every corner. The figurines are so realistic I almost lost my mind.
One Piece Museum Tokyo
Marimo and Curly brow
More of the crew’s Hangouts
Bone to be wild
Zoro’s Soul of Edge
The entrance to the attraction is an exhibition of all kinds of katana’s. You’d waste no time in spotting Mihawk’s huge sword hanging down the wall to your right as you go in. The line leads you into a small booth where they give you one (unreal) katana and make you stand facing a screen. You then have to fight a pacifista and random cannon balls as the software registers your real life moves. When the pacifista shows up, you have to get into a particular stance which is also the time when they take a sneaky little pic you can buy later for a 1000 yen. I didn’t have that much money so I just took a pic of the pic but I encourage you to make a decisive and amazingly Zoro like one so you are proud of yourself instead of laughing maniacally and spoiling the pic.
Robin’s Finding Poneglyph
Here they give you a real talking denden mushi. You heard it. A.real.talking.Denden Mushi. And you know who is talking from the other side? Can you guess? It’s Robin. Robin. She was talking in Japanese so I didn’t understand shit but I think I can rest in peace now.
The game itself is about finding hidden poneglyph marks all over the place, scanning it with the denden mushi and finding more of them. I drifted into all sorts of dark and probably non-visitor places in the amusement park carrying it, so the game can be a bit dangerous for overexcited people with no sense of social boundaries. While the game itself is pretty enjoyable, you feel like a stalker sometimes when you follow other groups with a denden mushi hoping they’d lead you to other poneglyphs. There are also nicer people who’d tell you where they found the hidden symbols themselves so you do not have to resort to your baser instinct. I turned out to be pretty bad with this though with a measly 56% of the poneglyphs found.
Brook’s Horror House
The name says it all. For me the funniest part of this attraction was the family in front of me. In particular, the son in the family in front of me. It was like a comedy skit. The boy was so scared of the house that he ran out of the place and then came to tell me it was too scary for him and that I should leave too. Two seconds later, his mom came rushing out looking for him trying to take him back in. Seeing her brother get all this attention, the little girl stomped out of the house and away from the attraction followed by her father asking her to come back. Somehow the entire family gathered and went back into the house, before the boy apparently decided he really couldn’t take it, got out again and walked towards the exit from the outside to wait for his family.
The horror house was not really scary (‘You’re a scaredy cat, little boy’), and if I’m saying it’s not scary, you can probably skip through it taunting all the wannabe demons. It was an alright attraction. The best part was catching a glimpse of the ghost woman, Perona.
Chopper Southend sunny issue Exploration
You have to go here. Actually there will be so much time you’ll probably go to all the attractions but I really took my time with this one. It had Sanji and the kitchen, Nami’s and Robin’s room with their cabinet and clothes and little animation snippets with Chopper and Brook.
Sanji in the Kitchen
Robin’s and Nami’s Closet
Nami and Robin’s Room
Luffy’s Endless Adventure
Can I just say this is the best part? It is like an interactive animation of the entire series and a retelling of the precious moments of all the Strawhats. I almost cried here. There was Shanks giving Luffy the hat, the Enies Lobby scene with Robin, a model of Nami’s map room at Arlong’s that Luffy destroyed and… Ace. It was like a tribute to all that has happened in the series till now. They played little parts of the movie on a huge screen at the end too.
Shanks bequeathing the Strawhat to Luffy
Enies Lobby – ‘I want to live’!
Tunnel of Flames – The road to Ace’s memory
Hall of Mirrors
THE DOOR!! The door where Luffy recovers from Magellan’s Poison
Strawhats in the News
The Live animation
Frankly, this was not as interesting as I thought it would be no matter what the pictures make you think. Infact it was a bit funny and kiddish at some points because the characters’ faces did not really match with the characters. A great experience nonetheless.
Scene from the live action show – Luffy, Law and Kizaru
Scene from the live action show – Sanji and Zorro
Mugiwara and Tongari store
The Tongari store is inside the amusement park. The best thing I found there was the Franky hand pillow (you heard it). The mugiwara store on the ground floor of the Tokyo Tower has a huge collection. The best part is the One piece soundtrack playing in the background while you shop.
I think that the One Piece Tower is a place all One Piece fans will enjoy. It is a half day in Tokyo you would never forget.