Happy Mania Volume 9
Now that the series by Moyoco Anno is winding down, things are happening rapidly again. Volume nine opens with Shigeta getting the news that Takahashi is getting married. Fuku expects her to be shocked, but Shigeta is the calmest I’ve ever seen her in this series.
Takahashi’s faux-fiancee is the freaky one here. She hears “congratulations” and thinks “they’re plotting against me.” She refuses to leave, even when Takahashi tries to break up their non-existent relationship. Artistically, there’s a lot more shading and background in the early chapters of this volume, which grounds the characters as they try to act more responsibly.
There’s also a lot of playing with perceptions here. Fuku sets Shigeta up with a nice guy, who looks like a Buddha. Even though he’s considerate, successful, honest, Shigeta can’t get past his appearance. Fuku tells her the hard truth that the men they want — handsome, rich, nice guys — have better choices than them available to them. The women aren’t young, they aren’t successful, they have spotty histories, and they’re mean. And stupid, if you ask me, but that’s not part of Fuku’s list.
Still, that’s what makes them entertaining. There’s enjoyment in thinking “my life is/was bad, but at least it’s not THAT bad.” When Takahashi’s fiancee confronts Shigeta, we also see contrasting expectations, as the country girl thinks of Shigeta as “pretty, skinny, a hip downtown woman”. She doesn’t know Shigeta like the readers do, but it’s a good reminder that even someone disappointed with their own life might be envied by others.
Takahashi comes to get his fiancee, and because of the distance caused by his amnesia, Shigeta finds him attractive. There’s no better example of wanting only what you can’t have, and not wanting what you’ve got. She abused him for years, and he kept coming back. Now, he’s a different person, and only then does she want him. She equates love with pain — of uncertainty about how the other person feels, of wanting someone more than they want you — and she doesn’t understand that true love can be comfortable.
There’s also a supporting story in which Fuku and her friend (Shigeta’s former boss) are involved with the same younger man, a boy who takes everything for granted. I previously talked about volume eight. This’ll be the last volume of the series I cover, so if you want spoilers about the ending, here’s another review.