OSHIMA Nagi is a 28 year-old office clerk who has spent her life being vigilant about the moods of people around her so as to avoid being disliked. Even with her boyfriend
GAMON Shinji, she has never shared her true feelings; she has always held things in. She finds joy in her only hobby, which is to search for ways to live frugally. One day, she learns that her co-workers gossiping about her and that Shinji has been telling his cohorts that he “can’t stand stingy women.” Nagi is so shocked she begins hyperventilating. She quits her job, organizes her belongings, stops having hair-straightening treatments that hid her naturally curly hair, and embarks on an oitoma (“job-free”) lifestyle in a small apartment she finds in the suburbs. A comedy with well-timed verbal sparring and a simple style of drawing, it addresses the topic of “reading social situations”—one that many people living in Japanese society today experience—to offer keen insights into a human psychology that is often frayed and strained by social interactions.
Elegance Eve (Akitashoten)
August 2016 issue-Series still in progress
© AKITAHSOTEN 2016
I read this expecting “typical women’s manga dialogues,” “familiar story developments,” and “the usual pitfalls” to appear at any point, but none ever did. The story is endlessly sincere, careful, and thoroughly uncompromising in its pursuit of “what is truly acceptable and satisfying for oneself.” A storyline of a female protagonist who, after much agonizing, quits her job to start a new life, is a common one. But on the land where Nagi arrives, there are no successes in love nor overcoming of her inferiority complex. The people she meets are similarly searching, in heartbreakingly earnest ways, for “their own shores.” This is a compelling new issue shared by people living in today’s Japan, a rich society with such diversified values. If the “happiness” defined by someone else is not found in our stable place of living, we must set off on a journey, and what we take with us is courage. While this story ran in a women’s comic magazine, it is a grand tale of the adventure that all humans must spend their lifetimes on, and thus it has broad universality. (NISHI Keiko)