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All My Darling Daughters (Fumi Yoshinaga)

Even though she is a career woman approaching 30, Kasiraga Yukiko still lives with her widowed mother Mari. But when Mari becomes a cancer survivor and decides to live life just as she wants - which includes a new husband younger than Yukiko - Yukiko decides she has to move out, and moves in with her boyfriend Jun. The tale of Yukiko, Mari, and Mari's aspiring actor husband, Ohashi, becomes the frame around a set of stories about their friends and family members.

The stories are all, to some degree, about being a daughter, and therefore about being female. First, there's the buxom girl with the terrible self-esteem issues who makes Ohashi's law instructor friend an offer that he can't make himself refuse. Then there's Yukiko's beautiful, talented, and self-sacrificing friend Sayako whose memories of her grandfather make her take a decidedly unusual view of love and marriage. Meanwhile, Yukiko's and Mari's stories are rolling on, too. When Yukiko herself marries, she remembers her two best friends from middle school and sends them postcards: we then learn how things have gone for the two of them since that time. Finally, when Yukiko visits her maternal grandmother, she learns some things about Mari's past that explain a lot - and make Yukiko rethink her feelings about her mother.

The feeling of the volume is similar to that of the many side-stories and flashbacks surrounding the core story of Antique Bakery. I have to say that although this is, on the surface, the sort of thing that I would have guessed I'd find dull, I found myself smiling or sighing in recognition many times as I read through the various stories. Yoshinaga displays her trademark emotional intelligence throughout, and as usual, her drawings are exquisite.

 

All My Darling Daughters (review)

I was very much taken aback by Sayako's decision to become a (Catholic) nun. One reviewer found this odd because there wasn't any indication that she was a Christian or even interested in Christianity. For me, it was more that she was doing so much good in the world as an architect for accessible housing - it really seemed a shame to turn her back on that.

On the other hand, I really loved Yukiko and Mari's relationship. Despite all the fighting and the fact that Yukiko could not deal with Ohashi at first, the fact that she and Jun keep showing up at Mari's table for dinner, especially whenever Yukiko wants to talk about something important that's happened, speaks volumes. Also, as another reviewer noted, the fact that Yukiko's life (and marriage) is among the most successful depicted in the book says strong things about Mari's abilities as a parent.

Finally, Yukiko's ultimate declaration of love for her mother - "Mom ... I would cry wholeheartedly at your funeral" and Mari's response - " ... heh heh" (with a small, shy, downward-glancing smile - were both so real and so them, that I felt all teary-eyed and happy.

Another review of this manga:
by oyceter

BTW, can anyone tell me if I'm correct - that this is the first josei manga I've read?

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Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
smillaraaq
Apr. 12th, 2010 02:37 am (UTC)
Hmmm, I think AB itself was actually published as josei originally, even though the English versions try to play up the yaoi angle since nobody knows from josei here...
smillaraaq
Apr. 12th, 2010 02:38 am (UTC)
D'oh, and Ooku as well! /me blames the Nyquil haze...
chomiji
Apr. 13th, 2010 02:51 am (UTC)

Hey, I can be that spacey without Nyquil! (I woke up about every 2 hours last night - I was having some dynamite dreams, but of course now I can't remember any.)

smillaraaq
Apr. 13th, 2010 04:04 am (UTC)
Bleah, I pretty much collapsed when I got home from the meet on Saturday and have been in a haze ever since; the stupid bug finally seems to be loosening its grip, but not nearly as fast as I'd like!

Poking around a little more, it seems like a lot of Yoshinaga's stuff may have been originally published as josei -- possibly Pet Shop of Horrors: Tokyo as well (but the first PSOH was in a shojo magazine...complicated, complicated! And it just gets worse when titles are exported -- XXXholic is published as seinen in Japan, but I've seen pages claiming that in the Chinese market it's pitched as the equivalent of josei...)

I have to say that although this is, on the surface, the sort of thing that I would have guessed I'd find dull, I found myself smiling or sighing in recognition many times as I read through the various stories.

Oooh, yes, absolutely -- if I heard that sort of plot summary of quiet, domestic, interlinked mother-daughter stories for a mainstream Western movie or novel, I'd run off screaming in the other direction as fast as I could; that's just the sort of Lifetime movie or Oprah's-book-club mainstream fare that typically bores me to tears. But there are a few mangaka, and Yoshinaga is at the top of the list for me, who have such a delicate touch that they can make it work.
rushthatspeaks
Apr. 12th, 2010 05:57 pm (UTC)
I don't know whether you read Ai Yazawa, but both Nana and Paradise Kiss are josei.
chomiji
Apr. 13th, 2010 11:34 am (UTC)

I tried to like Nana! Really, I tried. It was so obviously important to so many people - but I just couldn't like it.

But yes, I did read some of it. So Daughter is not my first josei manga.

Thanks!

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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