I’ll Give It My All… Tomorrow 4

November 17, 2011

Shunju Aono – Viz – 2011 – 4+ volumes

This continues to be a bizarrely compelling mix of deeply depressing and strangely motivational, as well as slightly too easy to relate to for its own good. Or maybe that’s just me. I have had both classmates and coworkers who are Shizuo.

Shizuo, after getting wound up over praise from his previous editor, gets a new editor who tells him flat out to quit. Shizuo is crushed. Genuinely crushed. It’s hard to tell with him, since he seems to take so little seriously and shrugs off criticism very easily. But having his editor tell him flat out that he should quit is a blow that not even Shizuo wants to face.

He gets depressed and carries out some self-destructive behavior, but his best and longtime friend stops him and forces him to think about what to do next. His friend has recently followed his dream of becoming a baker, inspired by Shizuo’s dream of becoming a manga artist, and is apparently doing quite well. He seems to be getting along better with his estranged son, too. In the middle of his euphoric living of his dreams, he encourages Shizuo the same way Shizuo encouraged him, and Shizuo goes back to his editor for another chance. This is heartwarming, in its way, but its rendered in the extremely spare visual and dialogue style of this series, so the reader is left to pick up on most of it. To Aono’s credit, it’s all there, though. The spareness is what makes this series so bizarre and ambiguous in places.

Sometimes to its detriment. It takes a volume like this to convince the reader Shizuo really and truly is serious about becoming a manga artist.

There are two flashbacks in this volume. One is the story of how Shizuo and his friend met, which is just about as bizarre, vaguely funny, vaguely sad, and vaguely sweet as the main story is. It’s not even really a noteworthy story. There’s some fighting, an attempted runaway, and a makeup scene with parents. There’s nothing extraordinary about it, and it runs exactly how you would expect it to. But even so, it’s endearing. I can’t explain it. And it upsets its own tone at the very end, in a very Shizuo-like way, by randomly cutting several years into the future and showing a page where Shizuo tells his friend his girlfriend is pregnant and he’s getting married. With no connection to the previous flashback, and no clue how Shizuo landed a girlfriend in the first place.

The other flashback is about the editor, and why she’s so hard on Shizuo. Her story is just sad, and I couldn’t tell if the saddest part played out in the present, or it was a memory that she thought over when she realized how harsh she was being on Shizuo.

But, at the end, there’s another manga contest, and how the outcome affects Shizuo is the cliffhanger into the next volume. There’s also a bizarre bonus comic that claims to be about a real singer, though my roommate doubts the authenticity of both the singer and the “concert pamphlet” that this comic appeared in. The intention behind it is equally funny to me either way, and the ambiguity is definitely part of the charm in this series.

But it’s easy to miss, and definitely not for everyone. But it can be inspiring, to those looking for reason in its pages. Shizuo, lazy as he is, is wonderful at motivation.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

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