From the inner flap:
Who takes the time these days to climb a tree in bare feet to rescue a child’s toy? To stop and observe the birds? To play in the puddles after a storm? To go down to the sea to put back a shell? The Walking Man does as he strolls at random through urban Japan—often silent, often alone—with his vivid dreams that let time stand still.
There are eighteen walks in this collection and some similarities among them. Many feature encounters with the elements and with neighborhood animals, for example, a few are entirely wordless, and some involve running into the same people multiple times in the course of a stroll.
The art is the real star of The Walking Man, though by his actions, the nameless protagonist proves himself to be gentle, thoughtful, and kind. One of my favorite panels occurs in “Around Town,” when the walking man is looking at a fairly busy part of town. The page, and his view, is suddenly interrupted by a narrow panel of a train whizzing past. Sometimes, as in “A Nice Hot Bath,” you’ll get chapters with pouring rain in practically every panel. I also love “A Shattered Landscape,” in which the walking man’s glasses get broken, and Taniguchi draws fractured images (if he has them on) or blurry ones (if he takes them off). The best part about that chapter is when his wife also tries them on at the end.
Taniguchi also excels at visual storytelling. The Walking Man is probably the best example you could find on showing the readers something rather than simply telling them. Early on, the family dog, Snowy, who is the only creature whose name is revealed, unearths a seashell in the garden. Later, in the story called “Down to the Sea Again,” the walking man and his wife take a trip out to the coast to return the shell. By the way the wife walks and explores, and how she hops up on a concrete barrier to walk along, one can see how well-suited she and her husband are. In the chapter “Lost and Found,” Taniguchi uses clues like a panting dog and the removal of the walking man’s coat to indicate how hot it is outside.
The stories cited above are among my favorites, but I also quite like “The Long Trail,” in which the walking man and an older fellow keep passing each other on a trail, but end up walking together by the end. Really, there are no bad parts, though I didn’t like the final chapter, entitled “Ten Years Later,” as much as the others. It’s the only one to feature narration of the walking man’s thoughts as he walks, and I found I liked it better without.
The Walking Man is sure to appeal to anyone who has ever enjoyed taking life slowly and simply admiring their surroundings.