Inspired by the Diary of Anime Lived Project, I’ve been thinking for a long time about its equivalent in manga. This is my attempt and potpourri of memories associated with the black and white ‘sequential art’.
Miki, the girl with the long black hair, is almost a perfect reflection of what I was throughout my school years. The ‘good girl’, who loves books, is smart, a bit aloof and remains mostly silent to the life her parents have dictated for her. Although I had a few friends, my social interactions were limited, I wasn’t allowed to go out much and never on week days even if I could finish my homework early – you see, “good students never finish studying”.
The instances I got too close to someone who was more of an outdoor type and urged me to experience things, followed soon afterwards by bad-mouthing, warnings, preaching. I shouldn’t be influenced by others, by which my stepfather obviously meant by anyone else than him. I never had a sleepover, I never went to a school party and the summer after finishing high school I was to go out only with the company of my mother “not to meet anyone and lose my mind”… I was bullied into staying in my birthplace for studies and I only got a separate room from my sister around my second year of university after many fights. Since quarreling always caused me great amount of stress, enough to vomit and lose weight, it took me awhile to start rebelling and change things for myself. They really don’t get a thing, although they say the opposite at times; they’re liars.
I can totally understand how suffocated and alone Miki felt. I also understand how she sees love. It’s not like I didn’t have crushes, but I almost got slapped once he thought I held hands with someone at school. The first kiss, the first time, the first everything, when they came, were a source of nervousness and doubt. You don’t know what to expect, you don’t know what ‘true love’ is and how relationships work and you constantly doubt yourself for being a person who up till that point was only good at consuming -useless- knowledge. You are afraid of screwing up, of not being good enough, of returning to a life of nothingness, because one way or another your special person gives a different flavor to your every day routine, and you don’t wanna fail once more at happiness.
2. Ningyo Ouji
I want to thank Yoshihara Yuki from the depths of my heart, because if there was a mirror of my sexual and gender identity, that’d be Ningyo Ouji. Despite the fact I’m aware of how such topics aren’t very seriously taken in the world of Japanese comics (with very few exceptions) and although sexual and gender identity are often confused and mistakenly woven together, I can’t help but hold lots of dear sentiments about this oneshot. That’s certainly me right there; the words used resonate within me.
I guess I have to summarize the story: Minako, a very capable office lady, is dumped by a co-worker who has inferiority complex towards her. She drinks her sorrows away and in her state crossing a bridge proves dangerous as she falls in the pond. Thankfully, she’s saved by a handsome… merman, who starts living with her. Kitsuo, as she named him, soon reveals to be more than meets the eye. In very hot days, Kitsuo turns into the opposite sex, just like certain fishes. Minako embraces both Kitsuo and Wakame and when the idiotic and aloof ex proposes again, the merperson defends Minako from his harassment. Minako who wavered for a second tells the jerk off and she lives happily ever after with her genderqueer partner.
I identify with Minako who likes both sexes while the nature of Wakame and Kitsuo are a wish of mine that will remain of course unfulfilled. To be able to switch between a body with supple breasts and a vagina and a body with flat chest and a penis is a fantasy that represents freedom to me -well, the temperature condition is a bit troublesome; we can act like it wasn’t there. There’s a magical object called strap-on, but it’s still not the same as if you had a real part of your body, with nerves and erotic zones, inside a lover. Yes, the excitement and blood rush to the bottom half of the body might be the same when you top, yet… there are more to be desired.
From time to time there’s a mention, in Journal posts mostly, that me and Neko-kun are in the damned situation called Long Distance Relationship (LDR). If both parties want the relationship to work and are willing to go the extra way, it’ll work -under circumstances of course. It’s usually advised to have a standard plan of when you see each other and set future goals; it’s a situation you are not supposed to be constantly in after all. We have circumstances which prevent the smooth sailing, but somehow he still manage.
In The One I Love as is the English title, CLAMP explore different love issues and among these is LDR. The woman of this story has known her sweetheart firstly from face-to-face and then had to be separated from him. Although we had the opposite beginning the nervous feelings of getting together again are much the same if not more, since we reconnect often after 6 or more months. There are moments of self-doubt even, yet we warm-up to each other soon and we reaffirm the reasons we are a couple with a smile, hug or over an anime episode.
It’s not because of the distance that we are still together; being in LDR doesn’t mean we hold a totally ideal image of each other. We do have are arguments and quarrels, and the lack of physical contact can be very cruel especially in such moments. It’s not easy being apart but it’d be awful being absent from each other’s life.
4. Sekaiichi Hatsukoi
Work or love? Do I have to choose? And I don’t mean it in the sense of being in the workforce or becoming a housewife rather that choosing to dedicate yourself to your work might mean you are more in relationship with it than with your partner. Relationships need time and if this basic ingredient is not there, you get alienated from the other person.
Lately with the crisis that affects many countries worldwide, this question troubles me on two levels: a. moving to a far of country and b.having to get a 10-12h job in order to manage. Immigration is actually less of a problem, because my partner can follow me to where I’ll end up, and there is skype and hopefully some good telephone deals. The time zones are the ones that might interfere. Working from morning till night though translates into almost zero time for yourself much more for another person beyond the typical exchange of ‘news’. Relationships might strengthen through obstacles and hardships, but a common point is needed to be preserved. Becoming strangers is awfully sad.
5. Subarashii Sekai
Entering and dwelling in the world of adults is not an experience you call pleasant, especially when you have to make ends meet. The responsibilities suddenly grow larger, the environment can be toxic and electric (when you feel you can’t trust anyone), compromising ethics with reality is bloody painful and difficult, and the money is little. You get into a routine and, if you are of the many unlucky, you start doing work like a robot.
For me it was and still is a great struggle that I have to tell lies or diluted truths. In my line of work, we are supposed to work with the child’s best interest, but in the private sector things are disgustingly twisted by the need of money. I’m supposed to always smile and never say unpleasant things to the parents, eh I meant customers, or else we might lose them. The fact that the child attends lessons only 2-4 hours a week and I’m supposed to assign very little homework and vocabulary (only 5-6 words to the starters) is of small significance. It doesn’t matter if the student comes like a tourist or makes a ruckus either. Because in the end there’s a ridiculously easy exam that anyone can pass. And we should milk the customer as long as we can deceive him/her.
Subarashii Sekai‘s analogy is very poignant and truthful. Not being able to take any decisions for my students, be it books, grades or what exam they’ll sit, it makes me feel like a pawn, a dog on a leash. Someone could substitute me and it’d be the same. I have to pamper my boss, my students and their parents. The whole thing drains me of life and happiness. Of course my humanity is to be sacrificed… – I need to change profession…
If people are interested we can make this a Blog Carnival and I’ll create an archive page. If there’s already something like this out there, please inform me, so as to change the post title and submit my work.