Just before Saho Hanawa was about to matriculate into Seiran Middle School (her mother's alma mater), she meets a ghost girl, Chie, who's wearing the Seiran school uniform and standing in the rain. Saho assents when Chie asks to go to Saho's house, and they spend time talking and arguing with each other. Saho parents hear her talking to Chie and assume she must be talking on a cell phone—until they catch her talking to empty space in her room. Saho is forced to confess that she can see a ghost girl named Chie, which shocks her parents. They then reveal that Chie is the name of the stillborn baby that they had before Saho—Saho's dead older sister.
tl;dr: this is a beautifully honest and detailed look into the daily life and emotions of a girl with BPD.
わがままちえちゃん (selfish / self-centred / hard-headed / fickle chie-chan) is a story which many people will have a hard time understanding. Looking through amazon.co.jp, there are lots of reviews saying things like "this heroine is crazy" or "the plot is too fragmented" or "this makes no sense at all..." etc.
Because this story is told uncompromisingly, laying out Chie's internal monologue without third-party exposition, it can easily pose a challenge to those not already familiar with her frame of mind. If you don't have personal experience with
dissociative disorders etc, you'll likely come away frustrated or head-scratching. Taking this approach, however, means it can be told with more subtlety, and be more in-depth and poetic than other stories with similar subjects (Girl, Interrupted, to give a well-known example) which devote half their time to explanations for an unfamiliar audience.
--- story: 10 ---
This is a story where the "plot points" are used primarily as a setting to give life to the little details. Because of this, the "story" is really an extension of "character", so i'll go into greater depth in that section.
--- art: 10 ---
志村先生's way with faces has only gotten better over time, and it fits this story perfectly. This is a story told even more through images than words, and she's able to, with a single glance, answer questions and convey emotions that might take another artist a full page of text. Chie needs only turn and look back, and i'll find my chest tightening and spine shivering. Several of the cover images feel like they're about to float off the page, like someone who's forgotten just how gravity works, and anyways can't be bothered.
And, of course, the watercolour spreads are an added bonus.
--- character: 9 ---
If this were a story involving only Chie, i would give this section an easy 10 as well. I found myself repeatedly recognising in her feelings i know intimately but would never have put into words. This way of sharing, completely honest and unfiltered, has shown up in other places in 志村さん's works, particularly in the shorter, less popular stories, but in Chie it finally takes centre stage.
What felt slightly disappointing, however, were the tantalising glimpses into the other characters in this story. Chie's aunt, "girlfriend", and fortune-teller "friend" all have their own brief moments in the spotlight that hint at more complex characters underneath. This does help the feelings of realism and honesty, but still find myself wanting to get to know these characters better. As an aside thing, her aunt feels a little like an author's self-insert character, though that's not really a bad thing here.
--- enjoyment 9 ---
As a whole, this manga left me feeling drained, warm, and detached. If you're the sort who needs those feelings to somehow stay sane, this will definitely fit (would also recommend taking a look at 岩井俊二's things). The slightly truncated feel in the end, regarding the other characters, was a bit annoying, but that feeling may have actually helped. I'm not quite sure any more.