November 16, 2014
Moyoco Anno – Vertical – 2014 – 1 volume
I bought and read this the same week it came out, which again, I haven’t really been doing. But this. I’ve been waiting years for this book. Here’s an article I wrote in 2011, for instance. I was so happy that we were getting more Moyoco Anno (and Kyoko Okazaki! and Asumiko Nakamura!) in English.
So I’ve already talked about the plot, then. An overweight woman named Noko endures teasing by a specific coworker with a vendetta against her. Said coworker seduces Noko’s long-time boyfriend and sends happy, introverted Noko into a body-centric depression.
Noko tries initially to get back at her boyfriend by sleeping with a random stranger. She finds a rich old man. Said old man is the kindest person in this unkind story, which isn’t saying much, because he winds up being weirdly unkind in the end. This man worships Noko’s body, and tells her not to be ashamed, there’s nothing wrong with the way she looks. Noko thinks that being thin is the only way she can be happy, and the old man tells her that being thin definitely won’t help. But he gives her enough money to go to an expensive weight loss clinic.
Noko takes the treatments and begins a dieting process, but with the constant torment from the spiteful coworker and her d-bag boyfriend, she loses self-confidence and develops bulimia.
She doesn’t admit this to anybody, but she does lose a lot of weight. But being thinner doesn’t solve Noko’s problems. She still lacks self-confidence, and she still lets her d-bag boyfriend and coworkers walk all over her.
This is a depressing story, and still reads as contemporary even though it’s almost 20 years old. Somehow, Anno is a master of depressing main characters who try to solve their problems and can’t. This one’s even more depressing because Noko doesn’t have anyone to help her with happiness, so she latches on to being pretty. She has a coworker that tries to help her with the bullying at work, but unfortunately Noko latches on to the fact that this woman is bullied for her looks, as well.
The kindest character is probably the harsh coach at the weight loss clinic. She’s quite mean to Noko, but gives her what advice she can on what is and isn’t good for Noko, and tries to help her out. But she can’t, which is one of the crueler and more confusing plot twists in this story.
The art is pretty vintage Anno. Think Happy Mania rather than Sakuran or Sugar Sugar Rune. Spare and contemporary, it looks like a josei manga, with large eyes, angular characters, and not a whole lot of detail. But the spareness for this story fits very well.
Very good, and very different (few manga deal with weight loss issues, and they are even more rarely so dark), but just remember… it is a downer.