Project X: Seven Eleven

The 1950’s are ending, and a revolution is brewing in Japan. Supermarkets and department stores are expanding, sending one mom and pop corner store after another into bankruptcy even as the big cities are running out of space. Who can stop these department-store behemoths before they swallow another family business? Who can save the Japanese retail industry from itself as giant supermarkets obliterate neighborhoods and threaten to collapse under their own weight of merchandise? Enter Shimizu and Suzuki, two unlikely capitalist heroes in pinstriped armor trapped in a tiny office and desperate to invent something new. Their lucky break comes during a grueling cross-country trip in America (look out for a cameo appearance by Cup Noodle) where the exhausted junior bureaucrats stumble upon their first 7-11 store, glowing unearthly fluorescent beside a flat and lonely middle-American highway. The convenience store! We take them for granted now, yawning at 2:00am with an armload of twinkies, sodas, and toilet paper, but for our heroes this modern and distinctly American innovation promises to shake up the Japanese retail industry as nothing else can. The story takes off from here, chronicling the team’s battles with the greed of corporate America, the conservatism of their older supervisors, and the technical problems inherent in starting a store that stocks over 3,000 different items in 850 square of space. Read Project X: Seven Eleven for those stories and more, but look closer and you’ll see a fascinating record of Japan’s view of Americans’ approach to making money. Half propaganda, half cultural commentary Seven Eleven will show you how much history and cultural exchange live on in the businesses we take most for granted.

Project X: Seven Eleven
By Tadashi Ikuta
Art by Naomi Kimura
ISBN: 1569709580
Digital Manga, 2006