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Familiar Diversions

I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.

Currently reading

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Progress: 103/374 pages
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My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness (manga) by Nagata Kabi, translated by Jocelyne Allen

My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness - Kabi Nagata

Content warning for this manga: discussions of cutting, binging, and anorexia, and, if it wasn't obvious from the cover, there's on-page nudity and sex.

This volume begins with the author's first sexual experience, at age 28, in a love hotel with a woman from a lesbian escort agency. Only a few pages in, Nagata interrupts this scene to explain how she got to that point. After high school, nothing seemed to go the way she expected. She dropped out of university after six months, became depressed, developed an eating disorder, and couldn't seem to hold down a part-time job, much less the salaried position that her family expected her to have by that point. She gradually comes to the realization that a lot of her internal pain was the result of wanting love, comfort, and unconditional acceptance from parents (particularly her mother) who seemed unable to really understand her. And yes, the story does eventually get back to the scene in the love hotel, and it is awkward.

I was not expecting to enjoy this as much as I did. I figured it'd be depressing and emotionally exhausting. Nagata was so fragile at times that it was painful to read, but she somehow managed to keep the tone relatively light. It also helped that this was clearly a look back at worse times in her life - Present-Day Nagata had done a lot of thinking, had figured out better paths to take, and was actually eating regular meals and feeling more like her own definition of "adult." She wasn't "cured," necessarily, but she was doing better.

I liked Nagata's frank and unflinching look at self-harm, eating disorders, her mental health issues as a whole and the toll they'd taken on her body (scars, a bald spot from hair pulling, etc.), the inadequacy of her own sex education (she realized after the incident at the love hotel that most of her expectations came from m/m erotic doujinshi, of all things), and more. I was a little surprised that she was willing to put so much of herself out there, but she even addressed this. Her explanations made sense, I guess, but still. I can just imagine the awkwardness after her parents read this volume (if they read it?).

The one part of the volume that threw me a bit was Nagata's somewhat Freudian exploration of her desire to be touched and held by women, which she decided was rooted in her constant clinging to her mother. She never quite came out and said it, but she seemed to see her lesbianism as being connected to all of this, as though it was a childish fixation she'd never grown out of.

Overall, I thought this was really good, and I plan to read Nagata's My Solo Exchange Diary as well.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)