Hey followers and browsers! Coming up in the next couple of days is AnimeUSA: a really big anime convention in Arlington, Virginia. Coming up on Thursday, in fact. This is going to be not only my first massive convention, but also my first one out of state. As you can probably guess, I’m super excited! And, if you know me, you can probably also guess that I’m scrambling around trying to get my cosplay together before I leave which usually consists of me running around my house, flailing my arms crying “I don’t know how to do this” until it magically comes together somehow. You would think I would eventually learn…
Because of my amazing time management skills, I don’t have as much time as I would like to devote to this week’s Manga Mondays. As such, we will be looking at a smaller piece that stays true to my shoujo roots. Full of love and zip-a-tone, we will be looking at “The One I Love” [私の好きな人] by manga’s royalty themselves, CLAMP.
The compilation contains twelve different tales, experiences, and emotions of love revealing the complexity of the feeling rather than cashing in on the fairy tale love story. The stories don’t have a lot of time to get into character or plot (being around seven pages each story) but it’s really not about the characters. It’s all about delving into the inner psyche of love itself. In fact, I could probably go in depth about each of these stories and have a different post for each one, but we’ll save that for another time.
Now, in some ways it may be hard to understand a manga not focusing on characters, especially from CLAMP who thrives off of making really cool characters. Yet, somehow they are able to pull it off by humanizing an emotion. Personifying it. I suppose in some way, that’s making a character but I would still hesitate to call anything in “The One I Love” a character study. The twelve females that are focused on do not actually have names: their names are characteristics. From something as simple as Isshoni (Together) to more abstract ideas like Futsuu (Normalcy), through each woman a different aspect of love is explored. The specific aspect is also emphasized as no one ever calls the woman a name throughout their story, thus bringing the reader into a closer introspection on how they feel about that part of affection. In addition, the members of CLAMP have also added their own stories and thoughts to the end of each chapter. Whether or not this adds anything is truly up to the reader, but I thought it was neat.
I love this little book, I really do but I find there’s one large problematic aspect to it: there is no positive representation of life outside a relationship. Okay, granted that this would destroy one of the points of the book (not being about the one they love) but it would send a positive message to younger and older girls alike, I think. There is a constant worry about losing their boyfriend (yeah…it’s pretty hetero up I here, too) and, of course, the comic spiraling into a pit of despair that goes along with it. While this is funny, it also exposes (exposes is perhaps the wrong word, seeing as we all know this issue) the truth that all forms of media still push girls into hetero-normative relationships threatening them with a possible misery if they do not. It would be nice if for once we could see a woman/girl get out of a relationship and truly embrace her freedom. To see her looking towards the future, and maybe looking forward to finding the one she will love. Certainly female characters like that exist, but there needs to be more.
And now I must return to the land of sewing machines and thread and churn out the rest of this outfit. If you are going to AnimeUSA too, look for the Dog-tier Jade (well, I’m sure there will be about a million of us) and say “hi”! And stay safe!