[I’m busy writing a rather long article for this week, so here are some manga recommendations I made a long time ago on this blog].
It has been a rough two weeks. [Future Gab note: this is somehow still true.] I don’t wanna talk more about the stuff that kept me away from you guys any longer, so I’m just gonna jump right into the manga I’ve read recently, some of which I’ll be talking about more in-depth this week and the next week.
My Brother, The Shut-In
MAL Score: 7.69
Every family has its share of problems, be they big or small. Shino Tadakoro has the perfect high school life, full of romance and friendship. Her biggest problem is her shut-in brother Tamotsu. She stubbornly keeps his existence a secret, telling even her closest friends that she is an only child. Oblivious to Shino’s concerns, Tamotsu suddenly declares that he is giving up the shut-in lifestyle. Is there still time? The curtain rises on a tale of family reconstruction!
(Source: Kodansha Comics USA)
This one is REALLY underrated in my opinion, which is why I wanted to talk about this one first. It reminds me a lot of works such as Oyasumi Punpun, Molester Man, and Onani Master Kurosawa. All three are very grounded and rather cynical stories about the experiences one has to go through in life as a young adult, and I count this manga to be among them. The characters all feel very real, and a lot of the time, they make stupid mistakes, or do stupid things. What I like about that though, is that they know what they did was stupid. The conflict arises from how these two siblings, with different personalities and life experiences, deal with all the ups and downs of life.
The authenticity of the estranged sibling relationship here is phenomenal. Most likely because the author, Higurashi Kinoko, based this experience off her own weird brother. My own relationship with my siblings isn’t perfect. I relate pretty hard to the brother who is emotionally less mature than his sister who had lived through high school.
It’s difficult to have missed out on that important developmental stage. While I myself DID finish high school, I didn’t really do anything memorable or risky, and that stymied my emotional maturity for a solid two years until college fixed it. Even now, I’m still incredibly naive with a lot of things that most other people my age know and talk about. I can understand what it must have been like, if only a little bit, to go out into the world so suddenly with no life experience.
The sister is also one of the most competent teenage girls in manga I’ve read. She has a part-time job, and is relatively independent of both of her parents. She doesn’t really have anybody to share her troubles to because she hides everything from her friends and family, and so her own conflict is based. It’s really cool to see such a hard-working and no-nonsense character like her, while still very much acting like a regular teenage girl with her own immaturity issues. Again, having a fairly independent younger sister myself who enjoyed her own high school life way more, I can really relate.
I cannot recommend this manga enough, I really loved it. It’s a great character drama with both the fun, short joys of life, and the heavy burdens that we all carry.
MAL Score: 8.00
Fate brings two people who live in the same condo together on a typical afternoon. Ozawa (26) has just broken up with her boyfriend of five years and was in the process of trying to rebuild her life when she meets Oyamada who lives a couple floors below her. He is somewhat of a loner although he does have a few friends and his room is cluttered with all the random stuff that his impulse shopper brother sends him. Ozawa takes an interest with all the things in his room and the two start a friendship that slowly turns into something more.
It’s a manga that delivers exactly what it offers on the cover, and despite that simple premise, the characters’ genuine dialogue and relationships carry this simple story through 36 wonderful chapters. I’m actually having a hard time talking about it because a lot of the strength of the manga doesn’t come from any one big moment, but the overall feel of the manga itself. Thanks to the two leads being working adults, we have zero melodrama or misunderstandings, because the two communicate all their problems to each other and deal with it as their personalities see fit.
Not to mention, the whole “will they-won’t they” aspect is thrown out pretty early because theses people have already gone through that phase a long time ago. It’s a straightforward slice of life romance, and if you’re looking for a realistic take on the romance between two late-twenty somethings who actually have it together with great pacing and charming comedy, this is the manga for you.
MAL Score – 8.58
Fuuta Okeya can see ghosts. Besides that—and the bandage he always keeps on his cheek—he’s a perfectly normal 14-year old boy enamoured with the new transfer student. Unfortunately, Kouko Ishigami wants little to do with him. A strange ghost that follows her, however, seems to feel quite differently. But, when Kouko sees the strange birthmark hidden beneath the bandage on Fuuta’s cheek, she has a change of heart…for the worse. Not only does she denounce him as her enemy, but she claims that the birthmark is a curse she engraved upon his face during one of their many past lives. What happened between Kouko and Fuuta, and what is the connection to the strange, fantastical dreams that Fuuta begins to experience?
Ever watched Cloud Atlas? You know, that weird as hell movie with Tom Hanks as futuristic caveman and Hugo Weaving as an evil old nurse?
Well, this is that concept, but anime. I love anthology stories like this because the stories are short but very impactful, cutting away all the fat and leaving only the great parts of a story. This manga is actually fairly popular online, but I never see people discuss it, only recommending it in lists.
It’s really great how the author connects all these different past and even future lives into one beautiful fabric of reality, each thread connecting to one another seamlessly. There’s a lot of themes about identity and forgiveness here as well that only gets more poignant the farther you read in, so I really do not want to spoil anything about this past what I’ve just said. Instead, I recommend you go into this blind.
That’s it for the obscure stuff I want you guys to read. I’ll see you tomorrow to talk about the more popular manga I’ve read recently.
Until next time!