Nope, tomorrow still hasn’t arrived for midlife slacker Oguro. As volume 3 opens, Oguro continues to struggle with his manga-making, his disappointed father isn’t above smacking him since “just telling [him] isn’t doing it,” and his teenage daughter has little choice than to detachedly watch the father/son duels.
In between having powwows with himself at 15, 17, 22, 32, his current 42-year-old self, and God (!), Oguro works at H Burger, drinks with buddy Miyata, and churns out middling manga. Told by an expensive fortuneteller that changing his name will change his luck, Oguro decides he’s now “Person Nakamura,” ready to break “this unconscious tendency toward safety.” His inaugural work as Person, Revamp Yourself: Sayonara Stressful Lifestyle, not only reflects his new renegade spirit, but his editor Murakami actually likes the story! Could Oguro’s manga career finally be a possibility?
Since he dropped out of corporate life to pursue his manga dreams, Oguro himself hasn’t gotten very far, but he’s ironically inspired others to find freedom elsewhere: Miyata announces he’s trading in his white collar for a white apron and open a bakery, and Murakami decides life’s too short not to live an honest life and resigns his editor-ship after two years of holding Oguro’s hand.
So close to being published by volume 4, Oguro is – not surprisingly – the last to learn that Murakami has quit. Newbie editor Unami, just 23, offers to take on Oguro when no one else will claim him. At their first working meeting, Unami is blunt: her “I think you need to know when to give up” sends Oguro into a downward spiral so pathetic that he might actually be done with manga.
In a late-night, drunken reverie in Miyata’s new bakery, the old friends remember their poignant shared youth, and how they’ve always supported each other, even against the biggest bullies. Oguro’s memories of fighting against all odds as a kid, no matter the bloody consequences, recharges his commitment to manga: “I’m sticking with manga to the death.”
Meanwhile, editor Unami is battling demons of her own. She equates Oguro’s not-yet-successful devotion to her own father’s writing failures, and empathizes with what she believes must be Oguro’s daughter’s anguish over being a failure’s child. But Suzuko is making plans of her own, announcing to a surprised Oguro that she’s off to Finland to study architecture.
Lives are moving on … and as Oguro grows older, he hardly seems wiser. Still, his determination to live a life in pictures might yet convince even his staunchest naysayers otherwise.
Fans of Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata’s Bakuman will definitely recognize many of the processes (obstacles?) of getting manga published, although the experience of reading both series couldn’t be less similar: Bakuman’s creators’ artwork is all about rich, glorious detail; Oguro’s maker Shunju Aono doesn’t move much beyond basic line drawing here. Still, Oguro’s simplicity exudes a certain naïve charm, and when even the “brutally honest” Unami gets pulled back into Oguro’s orbit, hope returns anew that even slackers might someday, somehow give it their all … even as soon as tomorrow.
Readers: Young Adult, Adult
Published: 2011 (United States)
OREWAMADA HONKIDASHITENAIDAKE © Shunju Aono
Original Japanese edition published by Shogakukan Inc.