Image Isn’t Everything

In Clothes Called FatOne of the things that has historically made the Japanese comic scene unique is how it can tackle social issues while presenting them in an accessible and entertaining manner. The manga market, even as it adjusts globally, can still find audiences for challenging realistic themes without having to frame them in the world of superheroes or school-age allegories.

Moyoco Anno’s latest translated work falls into that realm perfectly. In Clothes Called Fat never shies away from the topic at hand. Instead it presents eating disorders at the forefront, even frames it right on the cover in an almost frightening manner. Her lead character Noko Hanazawa is like many Japanese office ladies. She lives for her job, but her occupation gives her little more than a wage and stress. Her co-workers provide little support or comfort. And while she is fortunate to have a lover, her insecurities are piling up and to those around her so is her weight. To combat this, Noko, who at one point was being overcome by her frustrations leading her to eat as an escape mechanism, would instead come to purge everything in her life.

In Clothes Called Fat presents a story all too common, but sets it from a perspective that is fresh to Western readers. Told from the eyes of one of josei comics’ (women’s comics) premier talents Fat takes readers deep into a world that while not very different from ours, is simply rarely seen outside of Japan – the everyday office lady (OL). But unlike the handful of OL tales that have been translated before, Fat‘s world-view is not an OL fantasy, it’s an all true real tragedy that sent shock waves across Japan, and eventually across the globe.

Ota-King and Queen

Insufficient DirectionOur latest manga is a bit of an albatross in the world of translated manga. Biographical manga, while not extremely popular in Japan, has a significant place in Japan, but has been a rarity in the United States and beyond. And in the case of Moyoco Anno’s Insufficient Direction this biographical comedy not only covers the famous women’s comic artist but it also peels back the curtain on the life of one of anime’s most well-known directors, her husband Hideaki Anno.

In Insufficient Direction Anno, Moyoco, shares with her readers a touching and hilarious look at the couple’s marriage. Detailing what it is like to be engaged to one of the “top four” otaku of all time, Moyoco reveals a side of Hideaki that has not really been accessed as the director of Neon Genesis Evangelion, His and Her Circumstances and RE: Cutey Honey. In this comic, we do not see the hard working artisan with an obsessive compulsive streak, instead we see a fan of science-fiction, tokusatsu and classic anime. And as readers find out more of Hideaki, more of Moyoco is revealed as well. We see her admit to her knowledge of manga and her love of anime theme songs!

Never before have anime and manga creators been so accessible and approachable! And possibly like few biographical manga ever translated have they been this funny and smart.