Imperfect Girl is an intriguing manga due to its tackling of Stockholm Syndrome. The protagonist is trapped against their will but has many opportunities to leave and chooses not to. It’s the inner monologue of this character that drives the narrative and gets you wondering what you might do in a similar situation.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
The improbable imprisonment that transformed “I” into a novelist continues into a third, fourth and fifth day. “U” obsesses over formalities, as “I” quietly coaxes her into taking care of herself. As this bizarre farce of a kidnapping stretches towards the inevitable breaking point, “I” starts to discover the truth about “U”, a truth he should never have learned…
Why does this matter?
This is a three-volume saga so be rest assured you’ll get answers in this and in the final 3rd volume. The story is based on a novel by Nisioisin which tells you it has narrative roots in a different form of writing that translates well to manga. If you’re interested in psychological drama you’ll dig this.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Prickle, prickle, prickle.
This volume isn’t quite as obnoxious as the first since it gives defined answers as far as why “U”, a little girl who lives on her own, is all alone. Manga creator Mitsuru Hattori does a lot of work to make U a sympathetic character, which is not an easy task after the first volume painted her as a dead-eyed psychotic. It’s understandable how “I” could rationalize feeling sorry for her and even staying imprisoned to help her out. While the first volume largely rested on “I” being afraid of others finding out a little girl kidnapped him this volume dives deep into the Stockholm Syndrome element. As “I” gains more freedom by leaving the closet and moving about the house the reader gets the sense that “I” is more in control. The frightening thing, however, is that “I” is unaware this little girl controls him completely.
The art in the manga continues to capture the scary nature of the little girl even when we see her in a classroom setting. There is something not quite right with this girl and you get the impression it’s “I” and our job to figure what is wrong. “U” continues to do strange things too, like dance among fish that magically leap off a graffiti wall. I can’t tell if there’s some kind of magical element going on with this or if we’re to believe she’s gifted in some imaginative way. Either way, there’s an intriguing mystery yet to be resolved which will keep you turning the pages.
It gets tiresome to listen to this guy’s rationalizations.
It can’t be perfect can it?
It continues to be incredibly infuriating to listen to “I” and his rationale on why he shouldn’t just leave or at least call the police. It seems rather obvious getting this girl professional help is the answer and yet he continues to sleep on the floor of a closet and allow this little girl to control him. The inner thoughts do give some explanation, but it’s really hard to believe them without coming to the conclusion “I” is seriously deranged himself. Stockholm syndrome is on display and the authors are attempting to show it at work, but it’s hard to believe that after such a short interaction “I” would just allow “U” to remain in control.
Is It Good?
It’s not quite as infuriating as the first volume, but it’s growing tiresome to listen to “I” and his rationalization for not leaving the situation. That said, this manga continues to pique your interest with its mysteries. Here’s hoping volume three, the finale, answers everything!