Page 45 Review by Jonathan
"My father, Takemura Norman Takei, was born in Yamanashi, Japan. He came to America as a teenager and was educated in the Bay area. He later pursued a lucrative dry cleaning business in Los Angeles' Wilshire corridor.
"My mother, Fumiko Emily Nakamura, was born in Florin, California, but was raised traditionally Japanese. Her father had sent to her to Japan to avoid school segregation in Sacramento."
"I am the grandson of immigrants from Japan who went to America.
"Boldly going to a strange, new world, seeking new opportunities.
Like many before them and since. But for the burgeoning Japanese American community, the events of Pearl Habour were about to turn their happy lives in the 'land of the free' into a living nightmare.
Here's the publisher to tell us more about this divisive episode in US history as experienced by the living legend himself.
"George Takei has captured hearts and minds worldwide with his captivating stage presence and outspoken commitment to equal rights. But long before he braved new frontiers in Star Trek, he woke up as a four-year-old boy to find his own birth country at war with his father's and their entire family forced from their home into an uncertain future.
In a stunning graphic memoir, Takei revisits his haunting childhood in American concentration camps, as one of over 100,000 Japanese Americans imprisoned by the U.S. government during World War II.
Experience the forces that shaped an American icon - and America itself - in this gripping tale of courage, country, loyalty, and love."
I actually learnt about the American internment of its own citizens through comics coincidentally enough. Specifically INVADERS #27 (released in 1978) penned by Roy Thomas where Captain America, the Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner fly to the location Bucky was last seen (he's been kidnapped by Agent Axis along with Toro) and are appalled by what they witness at just such an internment camp. It struck a chord with me as a six year old and that page was very much burnt into my mind forevermore.
Anyway, I digress for this is George Takei's story and very well told it is too, as you might expect. His childhood seems to have been an extremely typical one until everything changed overnight. Effectively stripped of everything they'd ever worked so hard for, his family was shipped off to Rohwer Relocation Centre in Arkansas, thousands of miles away from California.
I think about the only fortunate thing you can possibly say about the situation is that these were not the concentration camps of Nazi Germany, far from it, but still, people were persecuted and effectively criminalised for nothing other than simply being of Japanese ancestry.
The historical record is extremely well laid out and explained, alongside the story of George and his family and their time in the camps and then afterwards trying to rebuild their lives once war was over. As ever, it's incredibly worrying to observe how easily the propaganda that politicians spew out and spin to prejudice people allowing them to proceed with their plans is utterly believed by the general populace.
Extremely clear black and white art from Harmony Becker captures all the emotional lows and occasional highs experienced by the Takeis in a remarkably non-sensationalist matter-of-fact manner. As a snapshot into a fascinating piece of WW2 history that's all too often overlooked it's a wonderful piece of documentary. For more about lifetime during WW2 and its aftermath from the perspective of the average person in Japan itself, I highly recommend SHOWA 1939-1944 and SHOWA 1944-1953.