The Kimochi Warui Diary
It was a rainy day, but in truth, there was nothing I wanted more than a rainy day in the Japanese suburbs. I put in my ear buds and drowned out all my senses with music.
I walked through the suburbs of Tokiwadai, got on the train, and made a visit to Akihabara—just because I didn’t know where else to go.
The night before—after separating from Yuno—I messaged her on Twitter to make sure everything was OK. She didn’t respond, and when I checked the messages an hour later, her account had been deactivated.
I put Torako on the case. He did some detective work and found a brand-new Twitter account posting pictures of Yuno’s cat.
I sent it a message:
“Yuno! I’m sorry if I did something bad. Or maybe you got in trouble? Please reply!”
Within hours, the account had blocked me without even leaving a reply.
I put my hood on, allowing myself to feel only the music in my ears and the rain dripping on my jacket.
My feet took me to BookOff, where I spent my time looking through rows of books on every single floor.
On one floor, I saw a section of photography books. One of them was a collection of Japanese girls wearing high school uniforms, except every shot was taken below the waist—just legs, skirts, socks, and the tails of white dress shirts. Each shot was fully clothed and harmless, but it was photographed in a way to elicit a subtle kind of eroticism. Everything from the lighting through the windows to the ruffles in the skirts would contribute to this feeling.
I put the book back on the shelf. I already owned the digital version of this book on my computer.
On another floor, I haphazardly picked manga off the shelves. By pure chance, I came across a section featuring an art style that was all too familiar—but it wasn’t the work of any one particular artist.
Rather, it was a certain type of art that immediately hinted at the contents of the manga: a coming-of-age drama featuring a girl protagonist, drawn in a cute anime style consisting of airy, thin linework.
But in truth, when you looked real close, the art style wasn’t cute at all.
What I mean is, I don’t think the style was consciously trying to be “cute” or even “anime.” These Japanese artists don’t consciously try to “be anime.”
This type of art is purely self-expression, yet, it’s inseparable from the connotation of a “cute anime” style. It would be like telling a western comic book artist that he was consciously trying to draw in a “western style,” when in reality, he was just drawing how everyone else around him did.
Likewise, for these Japanese artists, this cute style was just how they had come to draw and doodle naturally—simply imitating the styles that surrounded them.
But some of them were cleverly using this to their advantage, juxtaposing the “cute” styles with the harsh subject matter presented in the story—some even adding more stylistic twists to degrade the image of the “pure, cute” girl.
These deviations in the style were thrown in like a cry for help, as if to say, “Can’t you take me more seriously? Don’t you see the message hiding underneath? How obvious do I have to make it until you realize?”
These girly manga had something in common with the Japanese literature that I read in college:
It was all deeply personal and confessional, bordering on the point that it must have been uncomfortable for the author to write it. It must have been equally painful for anyone they know to have read it, too—enough that they might have tried hiding their words behind romaji instead of committing to writing solely in Japanese or English.
It was something I rarely saw in equivalent genres featuring male protagonists.
I bought several of the girly manga with pretty covers on them and then made my way back to Tokiwadai. Once there, I went to the 711 and bought several egg sandwiches, bread rolls, sushi, and whatever else looked good.
The rain picked up again as I returned to the hotel. Once inside, Jotaro and I watched Japanese TV shows and commercials for the rest of the night while eating our snacks.