Deb Aoki's "Bento Box: Selected Honolulu Advertiser Comics 1996-2006" is a tenth anniversary collection of selected comic strips as published weekly in the Honolulu Advertiser, Hawaii's largest daily newspaper.
The greatest thing I can say about this book is that while it constantly touches on the many differences between Hawaiians and mainlanders, Asians and non-Asians, men and women, women and women, it's always done in fun. There is absolutely no anger or tension that one may anticipate with the intentional illustration of our many differences, physical, culltural and geographical. This collection of comic strips may in actuality be a great lesson to us all in taking life less seriously and regarding our differences with humor. Ms. Aoki demonstates by way of comical circumstance that we all go through the same ridiculous experiences no matter who we are.
Deb Aoki is a native of Hawaii, born of Japanese descent and is now a resident of California. She may very well be an expert on cross-cultural and geographical "tendencies". Her intelligent musings on life are obviously drawn (somewhat, at least), from her own experiences with boyfriends, family, work, island life, etc. It is the type of humor that we can all relate to and will invariably say "oh ya!" to.
She portrays local Hawaiian topics with a wit and warmth that islanders will not only understand but feel understood. Ms. Aoki depicts funny topics such as the love of Spam, shoe removal in the home, silly questions mainlanders ask Hawaiians, plate lunches, rock fever, and "paper" supply issues. She also kindly adds notations at the bottom of some strips defining some pidgin terminology and explaining some things that just may need explaining.
But the focus is not only on local humor. It's a book filled with references we can all get and enjoy. Topics like Christmas shopping, technology, growing up/growing older, and many other things that we could all use a lighter way to reflect on than we sometimes do.
"Bento Box" is published weekly in the Sunday Island Life section of the Honolulu Advertiser and is really fun taking a look at.
But to get your own book to read through, refer to, and display on your coffee table for a good laugh with your friends, get your copy at:
An online preview of the book can be seen at:
It's good Hawaii-kine fun!