Tsuchika Nishimura, the king of beasts

Aquino’s first day as a janitor at the Bazar du Cercle Polar isn’t just a picnic: appreciation, friendliness, and anticipation of needs are at the heart of the job the employee struggles to embrace, a little naive but full of goodwill. True, the customers of this department store are tough: animals of all hair and feathers, well-dressed, delicate and demanding. Aquino rag does not help. What an idea, for example, to ask this female retriever if she could get rid of her mink without seeing it as her own children! At the slightest step, her manager, Mr. Todo, who was sharp-eyed on a small black mustache, did not fail to lecture her.

in Department Store Concierge (Translated from the Japanese by Aurélien Estager, Le Lézard noir, 288 pages, €18. In bookstores on September 8), a work he wishes above all else “fun”Tsuchika Nishimura depicts anthropomorphic animals served by humans. The mangaka, born in 1984, plays with a not trivial paradox in times of environmental crisis: In the beginning, it is humans who show violence in relation to animals. I found it interesting that they should be particularly nice to them here.”explains to Globalism. relevant “A kind of masochism in human actions”ends up considering that humanity itself is on the way to extinction, and wants to “To show that we don’t necessarily have a privileged position in relation to animals.” Bears are among the animals he enjoys the most. They live fairly close to us in Japan. Both are very dangerous and very cute. I love this sarcasm. »

fictional institution

Far from poetic comedy, where the fact of the unpredictability of animals’ reactions creates the element of surprise, the cartoonist paints a social parody in which he puts those who blend into the background, such as elevator operators or flight attendants, having himself worked at the cash desks in a “Depato”a famous Japanese derivative of Shops, “Shops” in English. His imaginative establishment is meticulously inspired by today’s brands – led by Le Bon Marché in Paris and its iconic escalators.

For his zoo, it doesn’t take much on the part of La Fontaine or Anglo-Saxon illustrators to seek Tsuchika Nishimura’s touch: the author paints instead on the part of the Disney animated film zootopia (2016). Finnish artist, Tov Jansson, famous for her Moominsalso narrates his albums discovered by the French in Black Lizard with isbene (2019) and Bye Mina (2021).

The alternative mangaka is not very long, monopolized by his career as an illustrator – for book covers in particular – Tsuchika Nishimura anyway likes to take his time and slow down the frenetic pace of the reader, which he regrets, “In Japan, we tend to consume mango more quickly.”

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