Before we get started today, I’m going to ask you to watch a video. Abuse trigger warning, but if you think you can manage it, will you try?
Did you look away, maybe check how long the video was, or see what time it was?
If you looked away, why? You don’t know these people. This is not even real. It’s a Public Service Message that makes a point. It makes it well. And for a second, it was too hard to look at.
We don’t want to hear about someone else’s abusive situation. We don’t like being asked to confront that we are pretty helpless in the face of someone’s pain. The feels, they hurt. It’s even worse when the victim is a child. Between murderous rage and abject misery there is almost nothing we can actually do to change a story. Tweeting a message, writing a check to an NPO…these are things we do to salve our own pain, and we hope they salve someone else’s, because admitting that we really haven’t done all that much makes us feel bad.
As I’m reading the exceptionally well done, but emotionally brutal, Dare mo Korinai (誰も懲りない) by Nakamura Ching-sensei which was serialized in Quick Japan（クイック・ジャパン, I’m caught between praying to my gods that this is not autobiographical, and forcing myself to not look away in case it is. I’d translate the title as “Some People Never Learn” and in regards to Nakamura-sensei’s manga, I may be one of those people. No matter how hard it is, I keep coming back for more.
Way back, when I started Yuricon, I wrote a serial for our mascot, Yuriko. At some point in the first book, Shoujoai ni Bouken, (which is online, for free, along with the sequel.) I have Yuriko tell a story about how, when her parents found out she was gay, they threw her out of the house. At that point, she had not spoken to any of her family in years. When that chapter went live, I received dozens of emails from people who were desperately afraid I had lived that, and dozens more from people who actually had. I reassured the former that I had not and sympathized deeply with the latter. This also came to mind as I read Dare mo Korinai. A good writer writes something you like, a very good writer writes something you can’t imagine is fiction. I kept telling myself, “It’s fiction…it’s fiction” knowing that for someone out there, it isn’t and I feel powerless knowing that.
Nakmura-sensei described the book on social media as a kind of epilogue to GUNJO. Sometimes when you’ve been working on a really emotionally intense project, you have so much built up inside that the only way to get it out is to get it out. You scream, you write, you draw, you make fun of the rage so it stops being something that hurts as much. Or you cut into it, plumbing the depths of the pain to see where it goes.
Dare mo Korinai, follows the life of Toshiko, a smart, talented girl from a well-off family whose life is shredded by abusive family members and stomped by family politics. Her lesbian lovers are no better for her and the best thing you can say about her life by the end is that she survives. But, by god it hurt to watch.
Art – 8 All hand drawn, without the detailed photographic backgrounds of GUNJO
Story – 9 but buckle up, it’s not an easy ride
Characters – I can’t.
Lesbian – 5 Yes, but no.
Service – Same
Overall – 8
So often I say that when I’m reading a book that I find painful, I wish to pluck the main character out, feed her, and give her a better home in a better story. I hope Toshiko finds herself in a happier story some day.