Review: SOLUTIONS AND OTHER PROBLEMS by Allie Brosh (2020)

Genre: Non-fiction Graphic Novel
Year Release: 2020
Source: Borrowed from Friends

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content warning: suicide, cancer (human and dog), hospitalization, mental illness, divorce, chronic illness.

I read the first book and immediately started the second. I genuinely feel a bit bad for people who waited seven years between volumes.

This book is equal parts humor and emotional devastation, as Brosh recounts what had transpired in her life between the time of the first book’s publishing. There’s a lot about mortality and the strangeness of children and their relationship with each other. Oh, and quite a bit of nihilism.

Still charming with a very noticeable improvement in the art, this collection of stories and essays touches on much heavier topics with the same quirkiness that endeared readers to Brosh’s work to begin with.

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Review: HYPERBOLE AND A HALF: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh (2013)

Genre: Non-fiction Graphic Novel
Year Release: 2013
Source: Borrowed from Friends

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content warning: use of the “r” slur to refer to the diminished intelligence of a dog

I had read some of Allie Brosh’s blog posts around a decade ago, so this blog-in-novel form has been on my radar for almost a decade. My friends lent me a bunch of things and I’m in the process of reading them all before I leave for Texas at the end of the month.

This frank and funny collection of stories and anecdotes made for quick, easy reading, and I’m definitely looking forward to the recently-released sequel.

The art is not “beautiful” in any sense of the word. But the quirky illustrations and hand-written dialogues are charming. The long form writing cannot be replaced by the images nor do the images serve as a kind of caption for the words to come. It’s really effective and the humor worked for me, for the most part.

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Manga Review: MIERUKO-CHAN Vol. 2 by Tomoki Izumi (2021)

Genre: Slice-of-Life Horror
Year Release in English: 2021
Source: BOOK☆Walker

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content warnings: Ghosts, body horror, disturbing imagery

It took so much of my self-control to not immediately inhale this as soon as it hit my phone. Continuing with the excellent ghost designs, this volume introduces new characters and new lore (?), while still keeping up the slice-of-life pacing.

I winced at every new ghost introduced here. They are larger, more intricate, but I really liked how Izumi introduces softer moments where maybe the ghosts aren’t all bad. In fact, helping them find closure Sixth Sense style might be a way for Miko to find peace with her new horrifying ghouls.

One of my favorite archetypes is the character who declares themself to be someone’s apprentice. Here comes Yuria, a fledging medium who wants to know why the old woman closed up her shop and what exactly is up with Miko seeing ghosts beyond ever her comprehension. I can’t wait to see how this relationship evolves, especially since Miko tries to maintain that she cannot see anything going on around her.

Manga Review: MIERUKO-CHAN Vol 1. by Tomoki Izumi (2020)

Genre: Slice-of-Life Horror
Year Release in English: 2020
Source: BOOK☆Walker

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content warnings: Ghosts, body horror, groping, disturbing imagery

This manga might be my new favorite thing. It follows a girl, Miko, as she goes about her daily life with one major problem: she can see ghosts. They are not friendly, and no one else around her can interact with them. Sometimes it’s funny, other times it’s horrifying, and I am so interested in where this story is going.

The ghost designs are so excellent. The art style really balances the slice-of-life and the ghostly terrors. They’re so inventive, and each one has me both terrified and unable to look away. The page-by-page jump scares are exquisite. I really enjoy Miko and Hana’s friendship, they do every day girl things that leave me convinced they are girlfriends.

There is a brief introduction of rules and lore, with the breaking spirit beads and visits to mediums. It’s light in this first volume, and I really hope it gets explored.

Manga Review: AZUMANGA DAIOH Vol. 1 by Kiyohiko Azuma (2003)

Genre: Slice-of-Life Comedy
Year Release in English: 2003
Source: Borrowed from Friends

Rating: 4 out of 5.

One of the essential slice-of-life manga, I came into Azumanga Daioh by way of Pop Team Epic. Unlike Pop Team Epic, this manga is grounded in the experience of five high school girls and their two teachers, which things only being absurd enough to exagerate reality.

The entire cast is so charming, and so, so, so useless. Except for maybe Chiyo, but she’s ten years old and in high school, so make of that what you will. Everyone has their strengths, but its their weaknesses and differences where the humor really comes forth. Sasaki can’t make friends with cats, Osaka is the transfer student and that’s not even her real name.

The two teachers are a sapphic delight. Casually going on dates together, insisting on driving together, showing up at each other’s homes. It’s sweet and subtle, but fits right in with the other shenanigans going on around. I really liked the beach episode and that time they tried to adopt a kitten, and it just wasn’t having it.

Can’t wait to see what comes next.