My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness is a tragicomic autobiography. Kabi Nagata frankly recounts her unfinished journey towards adulthood, including experiences with loneliness, mental illness, sexual confusion, and angst. The content of Nagata's report is frightful, the delivery funny.
In My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness, Nagata broadcasts her darkest thoughts as she works through personal struggles. She takes ownership of her struggles and doesn't look for anyone to blame. Her family, friends, and coworkers are portrayed as kind and helpful, even though Nagata's parents often misunderstand her. Nagata's humble approach to autobiography is refreshing and makes her character sympathetic.
The style of narration is deadpan and Nagata
makes many quips. She also uses irony and caricature to introduce humour and reduce the emotional heaviness of an otherwise serious story. My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness does contain some moments of sober reflection, which are powerful and help Nagata avoid coming across as flippant.
Overall, My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness offers much to be appreciated. At six chapters, you can't go wrong.
So much about this really hit home for me. It's kind of amazing how two people, brought up on opposite sides of the globe, could have an almost identical experience when it comes to identity, sexuality, and mental health... Having said that, I think even if you are straight and/or a man, there's still a lot of enjoyment to be taken from this humble little volume.
First and foremost: though I know many of you will find other means of reading this story (*wink*), I still feel it's worth mentioning for anyone contemplating buying the physical release that Seven Seas did a fantastic job with
this printing! It looks and feels good. Thick, quality paper, crisp and clear print, etc.
But back to my previous point.
Though I feel a good chunk of this manga's audience will be lesbian/bi women and those with mental health issues, I think it's a good read for anyone who fits neither category. The art style is adorable, full of expression and life and she does an excellent job at creating diverse-looking characters so the narrative never gets even mildly confusing! On top of that, it's a good look into many social aspects of Japanese life: how their society deals with mental health, of course, but also more broadly relateable topics such as the quest for love and understanding, the struggle of living up to your parents' expectations, finding a job and the general hardships of entering adulthood.
Another aspect I find deeply fascinating, is that her way of living during this period of her life could be defined as an almost hikikomori lifestyle. So I would say you also get some insight into that aspect of Japanese culture to some degree!
Really, despite its rather dark and dreary subject matter, Nagata does well to emphasize the importance of self love. This is definitely the story of a fighter and not a quitter, so you don't need to worry about coming out of it feeling worse than before! I've only owned this manga for a week and I've already read it twice, because it actually feels like a very uplifting read to me, despite being so uncomfortable (for me, it feels like a mirror is being held up in front of me at many points, haha).
There's still so much more I could say about this manga! Instead I'll end it here with a short summary: 10/10, and I hope and I pray that Seven Seas also decides to release her sequel manga!
Note: I've only read a few manga, but please hear me out.
Even though this manga is titled and was designed to capture the reader with the subject of female homosexuality, it successfully captures two sides of different coins. From the surface, one might assume that the whole manga's subject matter is only about lesbianism and the mental damage that affects the protagonist of this manga. However, the manga makes it so that it tackles the struggle of being a lesbian and the mental luggage that can be carried with it, and the author's witty but striking experience as an adult, surfacing to society and its
expectations and norms.
In terms of art, the art style is cartoonish and changes when the story needs it. The cartoonish style presents the manga as the author's somewhat comical interpretation of her experiences, and this juxtaposes what we would view as grim and depressing. The use of pink also complements the overall theme of the mang. Overall, the manga is well done and very entertaining. You'll get a laugh here and there and then pause to reflect on the fact that you laughed at someone's demise.
This piece is a beautiful, non-fiction, autobiographical manga by a woman who must learn how to respect and care for herself, and leave her rut of self-loathing, poor eating habits, crippling anxiety and depression, self harm and suicidal thoughts. The crux of all these problems and how she must overcome them is an interaction with a lesbian prostitute.
Story - 9
This woman has lived one goddamned interesting life. While not for everyone - it's possibly the most subjective story I've ever read - it can be truly life-changing if you find yourself able to connect and relate to the writer and her struggles. It captures mental
health in a way rarely seen, and terrifically accurate from a victim's standpoint, and can be either a horrific view into the mind of a victim, or for a victim reader can be a life-changing explanation for the mess going on in one's mind. Viewing the author's growth as a person able to live a happy, healthy life is just as wonderful, being both deeply inspiring and a literary payoff for the suffering the reader sees her go through earlier. Overall, a fantastic insight to mental health and just a plain interesting biography.
Art - 8
While remarkably simple, the art is a joy to look at. The - albeit small - palette is very pleasing, and the chibi aesthetic the artist uses can really help the reader through some of the more emotionally taxing portions of this - admittedly short - series. My only real gripe is the overbearing use of text within drawings to convey meaning, though this is honestly little more than a nitpick. While a more realistic style may have fit this more, the chibi look is both visually pleasing and makes it a much less difficult read.
Characters - 10
While there aren't many characters, and none are really focused on outside of the author, this author is so beyond interesting that it more than makes up for the vagueness of her family's personalities, or the friends that are only mentioned and never shown. A completely verbatim telling of one person's mindset over a ten year period makes for something far greater than it might have been were side characters focused on more turning the protagonist into little more than "a depressed person."
Enjoyment - 7
Most of this is just plain depressing, if not more interesting than fun. There's some good humour, and endearing dialogue be it narration or actual conversation, but overall you will be much more enthralled by the psychological aspects than the humour.
Overall - 9
If this story or person sound at all relatable or interesting to you, I couldn't recommend this enough. I may have the bias of basically being an emotional clone of this author, but even when casting that bias aside this was a damned beautiful ride, and certainly short enough to not regret reading.
(copied from my Goodreads review)
Coming in to this, my expectation was essentially "I'll like it, but it won't live up to the hype." Which turned out to be spot on. Even as a lesbian with depression and anxiety - and despite the title, the book deals with mental illness even more heavily than it does queerness - I didn't personally connect to the highly personal, specific story. I recognise, though, that it would be all the more powerful for someone who did have those connections. But it's odd because I've gone through a lot of the things Nagata talks about, like friendlessness and singleness and
shame over both, but for whatever reason I just didn't feel connected to her. I think I would have liked a little more on how she felt, as opposed to what she felt? Not sure.
Here's my take after reading the complete 5 chapters of Sabishisugite Lesbian Fuuzoku ni Ikimashita Report by Kabi Nagata.
My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness is like what the title says. It is the story of Kabi Nagata, a college dropout who is lost of what is her purpose in life which eventually lead to her having a lesbian experience with a lesbian prostitute.
This one hits hard for me as some if not most of the struggles of Kabi about her purpose, her journey through depression and eventual acceptance were some of the things I had gone through growing up.
The art would simply be a matter of
preference, but for me it is strangely good. Like with Otouto no Otto, the one that brings everything together is the heart and soul that Kabi Nagata put on writing the story to capture the readers mind and attention.
This is a definite must read for all. When I mean "all", it would be those who have strong enough values to process and understand these things. In this age and generation, we need an open mind so we can help each other to become the person who we are created to be.
It was very good and enjoyable, definitely a read that widens one's view on the different aspects of an individual's situation. The topics and issues she deals with is very common in the world so it is very relatable even to people who have not experienced similar situations because it is still a very understandable situation; especially for empathic people. Overall, based on my analysis on her situation, I have come to an understanding that what she really longs for is probably love! Also, self-confidence.
I found the art was well suited for the topic and story seeing as its non-fictitious, it gave off the simple
vibe an average general laborer's day would give off; nothing so flashy that it seems like a sugar coated drama. It also gave off a melancholic outlook reflecting the story's topic, situation and the character's state of mind.
There are one of those mangas that you simply put a 10 because it simply deserves it, nothing more nothing less.
The story talking about depression, about the times that you have nothing to do but the times keeps going (like the videogame Night in the Woods) and how you must simply get a place in life. Fortunately (or unfortunately, I haven't decided yet) I haven't reached that point in life when I have to stop everything what I'm doing and start to reflex about everything. Whatever.
// Simply, this manga is a piece of art, and inspires me to write a manga too
I went into this with some bias, expecting another terrible melodrama where author is standing on a soapbox and preaches about their woes and how the world really should be but this turned out to be a thoroughly pleasant experience. It's rare to see these kinds of topics covered in such a genuine, very personal way that you can relate and sympathize with the main character so easily.
Nagata over the course of a decade has to deal with a lot of shit that I think most readers will find relatable to some extent and the more relatable it is the more you'll probably enjoy it.
First of all there's a general anxiety of a teenager fresh out of high school entering adult life and figuring out how to earn money and deal with the pressure of responsibility that puts on a person. First job is usually a hard step in many peoples lives, after all you can't just pick at random and dedicate your life to it, it's difficult to decide who you are, who you want to be, what you would enjoy or not and where do you need to go and how to get there.
From that a lot of anxiety is born and that pressure on top of being unsure of yourself and things around you can lead to a whole myriad of mental issues, Nagata had to go through self-harm, eating disorders and depression due to this all while still having to figure out what to hell to do with life. She stumbles around from corner to corner and it's very interesting to read her insight on these situations, what she felt like, why she felt like this and what led her to out of it. Depression, anxiety and other issue are well known to a lot of people but for many these states can be more catastrophic than other because unlike with physical pain not everybody can understand the source of it and what to do about it, this is actually one of the points Nagata elaborates on fairly early on. I won't spoil too much but another unique aspect of the manga is that it is told from a perspective of that person who's figuring out WHY, why does she feel the way she does.
By trying to understand herself piece by piece she starts to form an idea of bigger issues at hand one of which is the repressed sexuality mentioned in the synopsis. It's probably one of the less common issues presented but the way Nagata retells her experiences is so touching and personal that I found it even more endearing than normal problems.
That's really the main strength of this manga the way I see it. In terms of writing it won't offer you much new, if you remove the context it's just a cute and lighthearted journey through the difficulty life of a normal person with normal problems that often pass unnoticed and are generally not discussed openly due to their nature. If you look at it from another perspective though it can almost be a guide on what to do when you face something similar. Obviously every life is different and there's no one true way out but having went through some problems myself and talked with a lot of people who are going trough them I think it's very reassuring to see someone struggle and achieve the life they wanted instead of giving up and wallowing in self-pity and sorrow.
So, in the end, this is a very easy manga to recommend, don't let the overly simplistic synopsis put you off. No matter if you find it relatable or not this is a worthy read.