by Moyoco Anno; adapted by Leah Ginsberg
published by Tokyopop; $9.99 US
It’s been a while since I’ve talked about this series, last covering book two last month. I admit, the intervening books didn’t grab me as much as the first couple did, but I still want to find out if man-crazed Shigeta ever calms down and finds happiness.
This volume opens with a recap of her motivations in an amusing visual parody of the samurai genre. She’s mid-20s, she wants true love but doesn’t know what it is, she’s overly concerned with her appearance, and she’s desperate. However, her situation might be changing. She was sent to get a manuscript from a reclusive author, and for both of them, it was love at first sight.
She thinks it is, anyway, because she’s not nervous around him, and she trusts him when they’re apart. Big mistake. He’s crazy, and she was sent to meet him only to get her out of her boss’s hair. That’s just her luck, that she hits it off with a loon. (Two crazy people together.) And she’s still mostly about the sex.
Best friend Fuku is actually my favorite. She has her own problems — she walked out on her marriage on her wedding day. Her husband was married when she met him but fooled around with her anyway, and then she was surprised he did the same to her, moving on quickly. But she’s drawn so lovely, all flowing lines and thoughtful eyes and long hair and quiet certainty. I don’t know how she continues putting up with Shigeta, or what makes them friends. Maybe it’s their shared fear of loneliness. Regardless, even when she’s worried, Fuku still gets herself up, pulls herself together, and keeps a job. That’s in contrast to Shigeta, who at times like that crawls into the closet until someone else drags her out.
Meanwhile — and this is where things really get soap operatic, with outrageous plot twists — Takahashi has been stung by a bee and lost his memory as a result. The beekeeper’s daughter, who has a mad crush on him, followed him back to Tokyo and told his family that they were engaged.
The characters are drawn with exaggerated emotion, especially Shigeta. And regardless of how much she deserves it, it still makes me unhappy to see her deal with the loser boyfriend’s abuse or debt collectors. Love isn’t enough to overcome the problems of daily life or poverty, and it’s important to make sensible choices, not follow whims that change by the hour. She thinks she’s guided by fate, but it’s just an excuse to avoid making hard choices and a way to enjoy self-abasement.
Finally, near the end of this volume, she gets some assistance. Fuku forces some self-help books into her hands. This would have happened halfway through book two in an American series; we do love our improvement best sellers. Just buying them makes some people feel better, whether or not they ever open them.