14th Manga Division Encouragement Prize
Uchino Tsumatte Doudeshou?
Comic strip manga [Japan]
Uchino Tsumatte Doudeshou? (I wonder if my wife is really normal). “I” am a timid manga artist with a beautiful but short-tempered “Wife.” In this essay-like four-frame Manga, delightful everyday events of reality and delusion, impatience and devotion are carefully depicted. “I” fret over and worry about little ordinary events of everyday life, and those struggles arouse peculiar sympathy in the reader. In the third volume, a baby is born. This manga is made up of the central character’s (=artist’s) complaints and jealousy, and his love for his wife and child.
Reason for Award
Delusion and a game-like viewpoint create a new type of autobiographical manga
There are many autobiographical manga of a “manga artist who is not selling well” in Japan. This series is one of them. Only a handful of manga artist succeed, so not many can wish for a stable lifestyle. They share the high risk of falling to the lower class of society, and many are therefore inclined to become paranoid and self deprecating.
Once in a while, this gives way to unbelievable tact. There are many essay type manga depicting married life in Japan. We see the difficult balancing act between work and child rearing. Some will lead to an ideal ending where the couple comes to understand each other, some do not. What is distinctive about this series is that it is vivid, and it will keep you on edge because the protagonist (the artist) tells the story in the present and in the first person narrative.
This means we cannot read into the wife’s mind. We are left with a sense of hopelessness against the fact that it is ultimately impossible to understand what goes on in the mind of someone who, after all, comes from a different family. It keeps a light touch though, as if we are playing a game, hoping perhaps the Buddha of Compassion will someday offer some benevolence to the protagonist.