by Reiko Momochi; adaptation by Marion Brown
published by Tokyopop; $9.99 US
A teenage girl has no friends, only schoolmates who use her to pay for things. Her father left, but her uncaring mother is busy keeping up the pretense that he’s still around. Her hobby is collecting her scabs in a scrapbook. She thought high school would be a chance to reinvent herself and start over, but she’s more alone than ever. Is it any wonder she’s depressed?
Then she meets a schoolmate called Asparagus because her arms are so skinny. Asparagus is a cutter, slicing open her own wrists or legs to deal with her pain over being bullied terribly.
When a popular singer kills himself, death seems like a way to get the attention they’re lacking in life. Everyone’s more interested in the singer now than they were when he was alive. Suicide is a choice they can make when so much else is restricted to them by their parents, and they don’t have any good times to remember to make the bad times seen less bad.
This reads like an After School Special, and it’s likely that many readers will pick it up because of the shocking content. The treatment doesn’t appeal simply to prurient interest, though; it attempts to seriously portray a tricky subject, including factual information. The ending isn’t too surprising, but the path it takes to get there isn’t predictable.
There’s also a short backup story, about a teenage prostitute. Her drunken mother wasn’t paying attention when her older brother’s friends molested her, and she began stealing to feed herself. When she meets a street singer, she realizes that there might be more to life than sleeping with old men for money. I found this story even more interesting than the first, due to its cultural insights, and I wish it would have been longer. The abbreviated ending glosses over a lot of character development and significant events.