Gaelle Denis’ “City Paradise” is a wonderfully visual adventure of urban confusion. Initially set in a dismally urban London, the story follows the integration of a fictional Japanese immigrant “Tomoko”. Awkwardly long-limbed city denizens, bizarrely whimsical environments, and the infamous London climate all collaborate to kick the shit out of Tomoko’s comfort zone. Between the locals’ unintelligible speech, and their intimidating glances, the first half of the story beautifully externalizes Tomoko’s culture shock.
Just when she might be getting around to handling this acid-baked environment, Tomoko’s dealer ups the purity. Through the bowels of an English YMCA clone, our Japanese heroine tumbles into the hidden core of the city. Tomoko gets the opportunity to dance to the banjo-accordion tunes of the local Norns, before getting whisked back to the upper-London stratosphere. As part of her package vacation she gets some sort of Dandelion of Neverending Light, I guess as a testimony that it wasn’t “just a dream after all!”. After all of this, Tomoko seems to be a bit more at home in her new residence. Being vomited into the fantasy core of London by a giant jellyfish would definitely re-establish my concept of culture shock into the category of “not so fucking important”.
This piece is from 2004, so a few of you might have already happened upon it. It’s visuals are not dated however, and it’s a fun little bit of fancy that deserves any re-emergence it can get.