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Legendary novelist NISIOISIN partners up with Mitsuru Hattori in this three volume graphic novel adaptation of one of his mystery novels... “Looking back on it now, I realize that incident is what turned me into the novelist I am today.” An author is someone who creates tales, but an aspiring author is someone who lies, and nothing more. This incident happened 10 years ago, when I was in college, and merely an aspiring author. If those events never took place I wouldn’t have become much of anything at all, which is why I think I need to thank her, thank that girl...
Dec 4, 2018
27 of 27 chapters read
Overall Rating: 10
33 people found this review helpful
One of what I think the biggest media to be about a topic like this was by a little-known horror author named Stephen King and his novel and film called "Misery". This story was about a professional novelist getting saved by his "biggest fan" after suffering a car accident before he was about to publish the last book in a highly popular series. To make a long story short, the fan became really possessive and controlling of the novelist, to the point where she basically held him captive in her house while he couldn't escape and forced him to write the ending of her favorite series the way she wanted it to end.
Ever since then, we've had stand-in author characters like that one guy from Jojo's Bizzare Adventure Part 4, that weird gorilla in Gintama, Light from Death Note, and basically every other character in NisiOisiN's Forgetful Detective series.
The reason why I bring up both Misery and author stand-in characters in this review isn't necessarily because both of them are relevant. It's because when we compare NisiOisiN's "Imperfect Girl" to both, you wind up with wildly different interpretations of the same basic ideas.
Misery is an easy one to contrast Imperfect Girl with.
UU, our main female protagonist and the scary loli on the cover of each volume, isn't a fan of our MC's work. But she is the one who changed MC-kun from an aspiring author, to a professional author that passionately delivers on his work. After UU, a fifth grader, kidnaps our MC, a college student who happens to be an aspiring author, we are treated to a unique interpretation of how this would inspire or perhaps punctuate a creator's will to create. In contrast to Misery, when the novelist finally escapes from his biggest fan's grasp at the end of the film, though this left a traumatic experience on him, he used that experience to finish writing the last book in the massively popular series in a satisfying way.
The difference in interpretation is clear. MC-kun is someone who constantly struggles to get off the ground, to no avail, before this incident. While the novelist in Misery was merely uninspired when writing the last installment of his series.
By the way, believe it or not, I am avoiding telling spoilers for Imperfect Girl. A lot of the end results of each incident, including the end of the story, is given away basically at the beginning. Also, a lot of "foreshadowing" is told to you, the readers, whether it will be important or not. It's not there aren't twists, but because there are some things that are never followed up on, this works to the narrative's benefit to just tell the reader nothing will become of this red herring.
Imperfect Girl is basically about an accomplished author telling a story (10 years in the future) of when he was kidnapped by a 5th grader and how he and the girl come to grips with their current lives and their individual futures.
Just by being in each other's company, for their own spoilerific reasons, they soon learn to recontextualize themselves as they realize that the situation is ultimately pointless in justifying their goals. Though the kidnapping and subsequent pretending to stay kidnapped are ultimately pointless, they do wind up making a huge impact in each other's lives... aaand I've said enough about that. The story itself can also be construed as a criticism of Japanese society, social expectations, and child-raising.
But more than any of that, as blatantly meta as it is, Imperfect Girl was written as a novel by NisiOisiN to celebrate his 10 years writing as an author. This is where I believe I should make the distinction between what MC-kun is, and what an author stand-in character is.
Rather, that even though MC-kun IS a stand-in for the author, as in he reflects the author's philosophy, thought processes and assumedly share a similar backstory (not that I would know)-- he is still entirely his own character and one that I can relate to very much.
Going to college, going through the motions in society like a robot, but going home every day so he can work on his next story, but being rejected, time and time again every time he tries to submit. Except for the last part, and as an aspiring author myself, I felt as if I was that guy.
An artist is someone who can tell the truth by lying. By extension, authors write tales, ultimately lies, but perhaps hold even truer than the real thing. Autobiographies and fiction can be wholly indistinguishable; autobiographies written as fiction can be fascinating, while fiction written as autobiographies can be inspirational.
That said, amateur writers, or "aspiring authors" are not people who can tell the truth by lying. In pursuit of being a professional, often does an aspiring author lie, without giving their fiction real weight.
In other words, most aspiring authors haven't really experienced life and giving our MC-kun a real experience would benefit him... was where I thought the series was going with it, initially. Though I won't deny that it probably has some part, it really isn't so simple. In fact, I believe that relates more to Misery than it does Imperfect Girl.
Instead of being trapped by society's walls, he is now trapped inside actual walls. He is forced into the room, but he can easily get out. But instead, he gets to the bottom of what caused this situation and his perspective changes.
Meaning is given to him by the end of the series on WHY his stories should be told.
As I'm basically MC-kun, writing this review, I relate soooo much with his struggles. As an aspiring novelist-- I constantly try and doubt myself over the quality of my work. And ultimately, I am also guilty (and have repeatedly caught myself) writing imitations of novels, instead of writing tales that reflect myself. I feel, however, that once I do find purpose in WHY I want to write my stories, they ultimately come together in a way that I can be proud of, or at least in a way that I don't think it's broken just moments after writing it.
It doesn't help that I gain so much inspiration from NisiOisiN, honestly. When I hold him to an ideal standard, things only go uphill from there... Though ultimately, I still do my best to keep up with him because fiction itself is a means to contextualize oneself, kind of like how the characters in Imperfect Girl are to each other.
While MC-kun is a hard-worker and really does aspire to make it big, he doubts his own work will ever make it, even though he keeps saying "maybe next time" over and over again. He starts to believe he doesn't have talent as a writer but goes through the motions anyway because "that's his dream". By the end of the series, though he never says he's proud of his works-- rather something way more spoilerific-- the end goal is accomplished and spoilers essentially become his inspiration.
I also relate a lot with UU's character and her situation in many ways, but... that requires spoilers so...
To wrap things up, Imperfect Girl may seem very VERY unusual at first, but it's concepts at its core are masterfully executed and Mitsuru Hattori does a fantastic job retelling and breathing new life into it with her artwork. The first few panels alone got me hooked and I binged all three volumes in about an hour. And I literally finished it like an hour or two ago-- which might say something.
Honestly, the story is short enough (let alone good enough), and the aesthetic is Shaft enough for me to crave a movie adaptation or something in the prospective future. If you're a Shaft or Monogatari fan, you will be pleased with basically everything in this manga. Even if you're not one or either of those, I see no reason why you shouldn't find something equally as valuable in what this series has to offer if you choose to stick with it to its conclusion.
Art (normally): 8/10
Art (in impactful scenes): 10/10
No human being is perfect, and when a human being tries so desperately to be perfect, that alone will expose more imperfections. Why the obsession with being perfect? read more
May 17, 2019
27 of 27 chapters read
Overall Rating: 10
8 people found this review helpful
This fantastic manga is about a 20 year old man that witnessed an elementary school girl get hit by a truck and sees her friend turn off her game before running to her side. He then gets kidnapped by said girl because she noticed that he saw her. This manga is amazing because it slowly paints a picture that makes you realize that you shouldn't judge people, or this manga, at face value or right off the bat. I believe that there are various things that this manga also tries to teach you, mainly the fact that people's situations can change and how they act isn't always their fault. I truly enjoyed this manga and believe you should read it too. read more