If you’re alone a lot of the time you tend to have only your thoughts as company. Now if you’re alone and a novelist that goes doubly so. So begins a new manga from Kodansha Comics called Imperfect Girl vol. 1.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Legendary novelist NISIOISIN partners up with Mitsuru Hattori in this three volume graphic novel adaptation of one of his mystery novels… “Looking back on it now, I realize that incident is what turned me into the novelist I am today.” An author is someone who creates tales, but an aspiring author is someone who lies, and nothing more. This incident happened 10 years ago, when I was in college, and merely an aspiring author. If those events never took place I wouldn’t have become much of anything at all, which is why I think I need to thank her, thank that girl…
Why does this matter?
Judging by the cover this is a very creepy manga, though it’s also deeply psychological. If you like your dramas forcing characters to think about the situation they’re in you might need this in your life.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
The main character is relatable and interesting.
This manga opens with a strong internal monologue from an aspiring writer in college who wants to break in but continues to be rejected. He doesn’t have a killer story or the cred to sell a book to Kodansha Novels or any other publisher and seems to be in a funk. His life is upended by the grade school-looking girl that graces the cover who appears to be a bit off. In a terrible accident the lead character witnesses something truly shocking and the girl must stop him from telling anyone. Throughout the manga, this main character thinks to himself and in fact, there’s very little dialogue in this manga at all so we’re in his head quite a bit. As he thinks about his situation, what is going on at the moment we also get a competing narration of him from the future reflecting on the events. It sounds confusing, but it ends up giving the narrative a multi-character feel.
I can’t honestly say if there’s enough in this manga to really grasp what this story is about outside of the unique way it tells its story via narration and monologue. It is interesting to see how he talks himself into not calling the cops when he’s been kidnapped. I’m not sure his logic is completely sound, but then again he is an aspiring writer so maybe the drama of the real life event keeps him from making rational decisions.
The art by Mitsuru Hattori is good at capturing small bits of sound and thoughts via well placed words on the page around the characters. There’s an interesting use of perspective at times too, like when the mysterious girl on the cover aims a knife at our main character. Given how much narration there is, and how little action there is, the visuals do their job to keep the manga moving.
If you’re a writer you’ll relate to this characters plite.
It can’t be perfect can it?
I’m definitely curious as to what will happen in the next volume, but mostly because I’m perplexed at what is going on. In a key scene, for instance, the main character sees koi floating in the air. In fact, the koi show up a few times, and it’s unclear if they’re symbolic of something, or if they’re actually up in the air like some kind of ghost.
The main character’s choice to not use his phone to call the police also seems like a stretch or at the very least makes him come off as quite dumb. Again, I want to read the next volume simply to see if he’ll call the cops already! Much of this manga beats the same drum and spins its wheels in portions, giving the reader not much to go on. I could see reading this in shorter chapters over weeks would inspire conversation and debate much like a show like Lost, but in this format, it reads like it’s just giving us filler to pad out the pages. Will I read the next volume? Probably, but hopefully, it has more to it than this first volume.
Is It Good?
An intriguing manga for sure, but one that takes its time to get to its point. You’ll be drawn in, but hoping there’s more to it than what appears at face value.