Will I Be Single Forever?
I enjoyed Suppli, one of the rare josei manga series releases in the US, so when I heard that Viz was putting out a digital-only release of a single volume by artist Mari Okazaki, I knew I had to check it out.
(Also, while Kodansha has been prominent in its support of non-mass-market manga titles through digital-only release, I hadn’t realized Viz also did some digital-only. They’re flagged as such on their website, but I don’t know how to get a full list of the works they’ve put out that way.)
Will I Be Single Forever?, based on an essay by Mami Amamiya, mines the familiar territory of how badly adult single women are treated for not following the expected path of marriage and motherhood. The various ladies here are dismissed, pitied, and pushed to settle for men who treat them badly. Their interest in fulfilling work doesn’t matter to older relatives, who only value them as potential parents.
In the first chapter, Mami catches up with extended family at a funeral, where in contrast to herself, her single uncle is popular and seemingly untroubled about being unorganized and unattached. The rest of the book revolves around a class reunion, where the single women watch those with kids and families. One is reminded that it’s better to be alone than with a poor choice.
The third chapter most reminded me of Suppli, as Okazaki does a terrific job showing the details of demanding workplaces, and it’s about someone others call a workaholic. She makes the case for why she chooses to put in long hours and prioritize her job.
Okazaki’s faces are expressive, with huge, lushly fringed eyes that make their bearers sympathetic. Viz has posted some sample pages. The book concludes with a discussion between the two authors about the subject matter.
Will I Be Single Forever? isn’t unusually fresh or uniquely insightful — although it did make me think that being mid-30s and unmarried in Japan was probably worse than it is in the US — but for those who have had similar experiences, it will be reassuring to see them shared. And the art is lovely, showing us the details of a certain type of life.