A review of Shijuu Kara

Creator : Eri Sakai

Publisher: Futabasha

Website: https://www.futabasha.co.jp/book/97845753376550000000

Shiju Kara by Sakai Eri, is a slice of life/romance manga targeted towards mature audiences. It focuses on the life of a 40 year old married woman named Shinobu, a housewife, mother and manga assistant who has grown dissatisfied with her life as a whole for various reasons but regardless just carries on.

Japanese society is still fairly old school when it comes to gender roles and such, it’s something my Grandmother’s generation understood full well, women were expected to be doormats, and many were complicit in their own abuse due to societal pressures and expectations, my parents generations ultimately rejected these ways and my generation and after have largely redefined these roles. In Japan societal change seems glacial at least up to now.

Shinobu accepts her life and carries on, out of habit, out of obligation, out of spite?

Well maybe even all the above. But she chose if not walked straight into the life she ended up living.

Only one person can bear the responsibility for the life they’ve lived, and only one person is responsible for changing it, societal pressures or not. Change is hard, anyone who’s lived life of any great length will understand how our inner motivations can drive us in certain directions, we often require something to motivate us. What motivation will Shinobu find?

The spark which drives her change is her son growing up giving her more free time, and with a strong market for her content she hires herself an assistant to cope with the workload, a young man nearly half her age, you can probably figure out where this story is heading.

This story isn’t particularly fast paced, though and there's a lot of negative character development (where the sleaziness of some the characters is explored), but its’ realistic the real world is rarely idyllic and neither is the plot of this manga. It would seem to be a fairly accurate depiction of some of the societal norms of Japan and at times quite unflattering, at explores the manga industry and the professional relationships between mangaka, editors and others.

Shinobu having towed the line for so long, puts everything on the line to achieve her goals, to live her best life. This manga explores the forks in the road we all face, carry on as we are or change, but what are we willing to live with, and whom?

This manga wasn’t so much enjoyable as it was thought provoking, how would you approach life’s big questions, where do you want to be. Is this your potential?

To me good questions are what a good manga should pose, a relatable story for some. If you want to explore a fantasy world or oogle at cute wifu’s you’ll need to look elsewhere though, you’ll only find tough life questions and drama here; some sex.

The quality of the artwork is variable, I’ve seen better but it’s sufficient for the job at hand. The story itself is fairly well laid out but can sometimes have some jarring changes of pace. I generally found the plot to be realistic. The story is 17 volumes, but they are fairly short volumes, 3 to 7 chapters each, the story itself is 56 chapters long, we’re talking like 1400 ish pages the story is barely as long as 6 or 7 volumes at 200 pages long. It’s comparable in length to Maison Ikkoku, perhaps Chobits. This manga is not licenced in the west, it’s only officially released in Japan.

Overall I liked the story and the lesson. Change is possible, but being the best version of yourself isn’t always easy or free of difficult choices, but the rewards for making the correct choices can be worth the sacrifices.

Shiju Kara cover image Shiju Kara page sample

Review by ukmangaxl.com