‘Charisma Man’ has become almost a byword for the foreign guy everybody meets at least once while staying in Japan. The complete geek back home, when he steps off the plane at Narita, that otaku exterior is replaced by one of an international man of mystery, the focus of every girl’s attention in the nightclubs of Roppongi.
Larry Rodney and Glen Schroeder, two expats living in Nagoya, coined the ‘Charisma Man’ term with a comic strip they first created in 1998. The five panel piece was a way for the two too poke fun at what was happening in the foreign community in Japan’s big cities at the time – nerdy Western guys leaving night after night with impossibly beautiful Japanese girls.
Published in The Alien magazine, the piece became a break-out hit and kept running with different writers through to 2002 when a collection of the strips was first published in book form – ‘Charisma Man – The Complete Collection.’
Now, eight years later, Larry Rodney has teamed up with editor Neil Garscadden, and artist Wayne Wilson to produce a new collection of strips starring the magnetic nerdy one. ‘Charisma Man – The Even More Complete Collection’ features comics from the first book as well as original strips made especially for this release. Beyond a look at dating in Japan, however, the new collection also offers a more rounded look into gaijin life – offering commentary behind both the good and bad aspects of life foreigners deal with while in Japan.
Whatever you think of the character, the comic that started on the smallest of scales has successfully survived for so long precisely because it is a spot-on parody of the Western experience. Can it still be relevant, however, now that both Japan and the Western community has moved on? The new book, ‘Charisma Man – The Even More Complete Collection’ will be in bookstores in Japan from the end of July for you to find out for yourself. More info is available on the official site.