My Girl | Manga Spotlight

Synopsis

Single 23-year-old Kazama Masamune …has a kid? During the season of cherry blossoms, his beloved passes away. He happens to meet a little girl outside work and realizes she is his daughter who was raised in secrecy by his lover. The worst spring of his life is transformed into a painful yet vivid spring.

My Girl is a manga written and drawn by Yumeka Sumomo and was running from 2006 to 2010. It was running in the Comic Bunch Magazine and has 44 chapters. The genres are Drama, Seinen and Slice of Life.

No matter how many mangas I read, and no matter how many anime I watch, I can never get enough of stories between parents and kids.  Be it Barakamon, Usagi Drop, Yotsubato, Amaama to Inazuma and so on, every manga has this kid and adult relationship as the main focus and it works. I can’t really explain what exactly makes it so special. Is it the lighthearted interactions between the characters ? Is it the nostalgia which reminds us of our own childhood ? There are probably many reasons why I find this genre so appealing, and I have yet to find a manga which is focusing on this topic and is completely bad. My Girl was a manga which caught my attention as soon as I saw the cover. Incredibly beautiful.

I haven’t read any Yumeka Sumomo manga before, but I did saw what else she has drawn and screenshots from her other mangas here and there. I really like the way she is drawing/painting with watercolors. If you know how to use watercolors you can produce some amazing results. But also aside from her watercolors, her drawing in general is very good.

But anyway, My Girl is a manga about Masamune, a single 23 year-old man who is working at a company designing products. He specialized in lady bugs, which has a special meaning to him. Masamune has a “ex-girlfriend” called Youko who went overseas to study. In hope that they still would stay in contact Masamune always used to send her letters but she never replied. One day Masamune is getting a call, and finds out that Youko died in an accident and that she actually had a kid, who is apparently from Masamune. He refuses to believe that until he meets the girl, called Koharu who wants to live with Masamune now. From this day on, Masamune’s life takes a big turn and everything changes for him. His boring life is suddenly filled with happiness but also responsibility and sorrow. My Girl is a tale of parenthood, but also about life.

Accepting death, and having the strenght to move on. While the most mangas which have a similair topic rather focus on happy things and the slice of life aspect, “My Girl” really is a drama. It is trying to tackle several topics and does a very good job at doing that but the very main message in this manga seems to be humanity. Humanity in the sense of having the strength to overcome tough situations. Having the strength to express your dissatisfaction and to express your true emotions. There are some little “arcs” in the manga where our characters learn how to handle sadness and pain. But also how great and happy life can be. There is a great focus on the complexity of children. People like to think that Children are very simple and don’t understand anything, but children are also humans and deserve to get treated this way. Not as an object. Through different arcs we experience what children go through when they face divorce, fights or bullying. Everything is handled so well that I can’t help but praise it.

A manga like this with such a daring topic wouldn’t work without the characters, and I’m happy that I can say that the whole cast was fantastic. Starting with our main character, Masamune, a lovesick but responsible father who is trying his best to make his daughter happy, or Koharu who is just as responsible as her father and tries to make her father as happy as possible. As you see both characters are very caring for each other, which makes every interaction between them a joy. The amount of character development they go through is fantastic and it’s not only limited to these two but also to the side characters. Be it Masamune’s parents who add a great charm to this manga, or Youko’s mother who supports Masamune whenever she can, but also Koharu’s classmate Shuu. Every character in this manga have their role and their meaning. No one seems to be wasted and get their share of characterization.

And to visualize all this we have the fantastic artwork of Yumeka Sumomo. I had some of her mangas bookmarked anyway, but after reading this, I want to read them for sure. Whenever a new volume started we got a few colored pages which were always amazing. As I mentioned above she used watercolors for them, which only a few mangaka use. It’s a very refreshing look and somehow was very fitting for this manga. It increased the lighthearted atmosphere.

But even in black and white, her manga looks fantastic and is very fitting with the story of the manga. There are certain scenes where she shows how to take advantages of the fact that this a manga and not a novel. The way the body language is used in some scenes is really great and the facial expressions of the characters are enough to tell us what they are feeling and why they are feeling that way. I really love it, when mangaka don’t explain everything through dialogues but actually use their drawing to speak.

In fact there is a lot more I have to say about this manga, but as always it’s better if you experience this manga yourself. Give this a try and be amazed by the art and the storytelling.

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