Wednesday, 5 November 2014

I'll Give It My All...Tomorrow, Volume 1 by Shunju Aono Review


Shizuo quits the salaryman job he hates and becomes a manga artist. Midlife crisis or awesome comic? It’s both! 

I’m kinda tempted to waffle - and I could waffle about this one a LOT - about Shizuo’s decision to follow his dreams and how inspiring it is and how people today blah blah blah, but I’ll stick to the book instead. I will say this though: the author, Shunju Aono, shows both sides to Shizuo’s decision: how it makes Shizuo look like a selfish, moronic douche, because he’s no longer supporting his teenage daughter and retired father, but also how brave he is to do something most people only fantasize about, to follow their dreams while they still can. 

Ok, the book itself - I really liked it and, man, did I need this. If you subsist on a diet of Marvel and DC books, you wind up consuming a whole lotta junk that’ll wear you down. A good indie comic is like a delicious salad after all that rich, overcooked crap. Keep your capes and masks, your tight asses and killer abs, give me a schlumpy protagonist who gets beat up by kids! 

It’s like a more compelling version of Bakuman, the more slick, accomplished manga by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, where the two teenage leads decide to become manga creators. There’s more risk for the main character of I’ll Give It My All… Tomorrow because he’s much older, has more responsibilities, and yet refuses to quit. 

But Aono is quick to downplay Shizuo as someone to be admired. He’s frequently the butt of every joke from when he goes out with his co-workers at the fast food joint and the fact that he’s two decades older than everyone keeps being brought up. Or that his manga turns out to be quite cliched and keeps getting rejected. The comedy didn’t really make me laugh but I like pathetic main characters - yes, I’m a Dan Clowes fan! 

I know it’s all about Shizuo and his journey to become a published, best-selling manga artist, but I would’ve liked Aono to spend a bit more time on other parts of his life. Like, Shizuo’s a single father, which can’t be easy, but what happened to the wife - did she die? Divorce? We never know (though maybe we find out in later volumes?). 

Or how about discovering that his daughter worked in a Love Hotel? You’d think that would be an angle rich with melodrama or a way for father and daughter to bond, but it’s dealt with so dispassionately and swiftly as to barely seem like it was worth including. I suppose it does accurately portray the tenuous relationship between teenager and parent though. 

I wish I could find out more information on the author, Shunju Aono. Is this book autobiographical? The drawing style isn’t as sophisticated or polished like Dragon Ball or Bakuman but it’s certainly not bad either. I’d say that if Shizuo is Aono then he really came up aces when he created this book - it’s a totally compelling story that feels unique and fresh. 

While it’s not a perfect book, I was still fully invested in Shizuo’s story and read through this book in one sitting. My edition also had an absolutely stunning short story featuring Shizuo and a suicidal girl at the end. It underlines the themes of the book so well, that life is short and doing what you love is the only thing that makes sense - and that life is worth living too. I’m no po-faced Paulo Coelho fan but it’s hard to be cynical about the purity of the book’s message. 

I think if you’re the kind of person who has ambitions to be published yourself, then this book will be for you; if not, then you’re unlikely to connect with the character’s motivations and, consequently, the story. But if you enjoy plotless, though compelling, stories about ordinary people trying to find some meaning to their lives, and failing as much as they succeed, you’ve got to try I’ll Give It My All… Tomorrow.

I'll Give It My All... Tomorrow, Volume 1

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