Matt’s character in THE STORY OF LEE volume 2

The first review of volume 2 of THE STORY OF LEE has come in, and the reviewer notes a key point:

“…frankly, I’m not sure Matt has what it takes. I’m many years past my own courtship days, but he appears to be something of a thoughtless jerk, and perhaps a bit commitment-averse. Given that Lee is now in a foreign land with uncertain command of the language, his selfishness crosses over into cruelty. If not for Lee’s uncle, things would have take a natural turn with the characters breaking up and Lee returning to Hong Kong. (The uncle’s wisdom and insight borders on the magical, making him a sort of oracle that I’m guessing is a stock character in manga.)

So despite disliking Matt more and more, I found myself plowing on until the end, and wanting to know what happens next. I think that means I still like The Story of Lee.”
SOL 2 cover lo

My comment to that:

Actually, I expect that most readers, especially female, will dislike Matt.

But it can sometimes be useful if readers DISLIKE a character, as it keeps them focusing on the story, as it did with this person above. And, anyway, not ALL characters have to be likeable – otherwise we would have to scrap a very large amount of fictional characters throughout history.

Also, in volume 3 of the book Lee will become even more assertive yet. She already started to be more confident in this volume 2. So, over the three volumes there will be a satisfying sense of her having grown and that she has pushed Matt to adjust his behaviour.

As to the uncle – I am not sure if that sort of oracle figure is a stock character in manga, but he is a ‘wise old man’ figure in this book, yes. Him and Lee even joke about that. But that is not so much taken from manga, but from the classic archetype of wise old men who enters the story at key points, of the type that Joseph Campbell talks of.

SOL screenshot p99

Author: Sean Michael Wilson

Sean Michael Wilson is a comic book writer from Scotland. He has had more than 40 books published with a variety of US, UK and Japanese publishers, including: a comic book version of A Christmas Carol ('Best of 2008’, Sunday Times), AX:alternative manga ( 'Best ten books of 2010’, Publishers Weekly), Parecomic (with an introduction by Noam Chomsky, his first contribution to a book in graphic form), and recent upcoming book ’The Many Not the Few’ has an introduction by the leader of the Labour Party and was launched at a special event in the House of Commons. He is currently writing books for big Japanese publisher Kodansha, being the only British writer to do so. In fact, he is the only pro manga writer from Britain who lives in Japan. He is also the editor of the critically acclaimed collection 'AX:alternative manga' (one of Publishers Weekly's 'Best ten books of 2010' and nominated for a Harvey award). Working with Shambhala Publications in the US he has written a unique line of Japanese history/martial arts/Samurai books, including The Book of Five Rings, The 47 Ronin, and Cold Mountain Poems (winner of China Comic and Animation Competition 2015 ‘Best Overseas Comic’ award). In 2016 his book The Faceless Ghost was nominated for the prestigious Eisner Book Awards, and received a medal in the 2016 'Independent Publisher Book Awards'. In 2017 his book Secrets of the Ninja won an International Manga Award from the Japanese government - he is the first British person to receive this award. In 2020 he received the ‘Scottish Samurai Award’ from an association celebrating links between Japan and Scotland. He often gives lectures and talks about comics in schools and colleges, and writes articles for such places as The Japan Times, New Internationalist, Asia-Pacific Journal and The Herald Scotland.

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