Monday, January 25, 2010

Manga Monday: Darling Daughters

All My Darling Daughters
Fumi Yoshinaga


All My Darling Daughters is a book consisting of five stories, all of which are connected through characters in one way or another.  It's written and illustrated by the creator of Antique Bakery and Ooku: The Inner Chambers, so of course, the art is beautiful and elegant.  With this book, Yoshinaga really focused on a group of people, digging into their motivations and examining their relationships with one another.  Unlike some of the other more well-known books by Yoshinaga, there's not an immediate hook to grab readers.  I personally went into this with blind faith in a creator that I've enjoyed previous works from, otherwise I'm not sure that I would have given it a second glance.  But I was fortunate in reading the tales she weaved, beginning with a story about the relationship between a mother and the 30-something daughter who still lives with her.  After going into remission for cancer, the mother decides to live life to its fullest and remarries a man younger than her daughter.  Her daughter suspects the young man of ill intentions, and isn't happy about the change for selfish reasons.  The mother-daughter have a great relationship, and I think they were the highlight of the stories offered here, so I was happy to see the final story reexamining these characters, specifically the mother.  It made for a nice bookend.  I also appreciated that Yoshinaga didn't resort to forcing emotions through a relapse of cancer, as that would have been an easy way to get a reaction from readers, one that many less confident creators would have used.  The second story in this book was amusing and I rather enjoyed it about as much as the initial story, about a teacher who gets sexually involved with a student.  It didn't have the subtle emotion and loving bickering between the characters that I came to like about the mother and daughter, but it was strong in its own way.  The only chapter of this book that I didn't really care for was the third one, which sees a young hard-working, selfless beautiful woman go on blind dates to have a marriage arranged.  I didn't buy her motivation in the end, nor where she ended up by the story's conclusion.  It seemed forced and unlikely, and kind of came out of nowhere.  But overall, this is a very strong book of stories created with careful thought that I'm sure must draw from Yoshinaga's life a little bit, as she was quite insightful about the relationships involved.  I still prefer other works by the creator over this one, but I like that it was so simple and doesn't have all of the bells and whistles of other manga series that are less deserving of notoriety.

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