Manga man charms streets of Japan with magnetic storytelling

Remember the days when you were a little kid, when listening to someone read a storybook drew you into the imaginative world of fiction?  Well, meet Rikimaru Toho, 35, who has caught the attention of passersby and international newspapers alike with his passionate manga readings.

“I was a classic hikikomori (recluse) and NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) type of person. I couldn’t fit in,” Toho tells CNN. “Now I get offers to perform on stages in clubs and theaters. Media people in Japan are interested in me. But the best thing about my manga performances is when audience members are sweating when they thank me after a reading. I’m the one who performed — but they’re the ones sweating!”

Check out this highly entertaining clip from one of his regular Saturday night readings on the streets of Shimokitazawa, 10 minutes west of central Tokyo.  Toho is reading from “Slam Dunk,” Takehiko Inoue’s bestselling manga series about competing high school basketball teams.

The scene depicts a crucial moment in the story when the hero, a newbie, manages to steal the ball from a veteran captain. Toho starts with streams of onomatopoeia, evoking mayhem on the court. At around the 50-second mark, the hero says: “Heh-heh. I got the ball!” and at 57 seconds, the crowd roars: “Amazing! He finally got it! He got the ball away from the captain!” Finally, at 1:05, Toho impersonates a young female fan featured in close-up gushing “He’s so awesome. And now everyone understands how great he really is. Yes!” (Translation by CNN.)

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(Thanks Dunks!)

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