Reading Pile: Egg Cream & In Clothes Called Fat
So I've read this in the wrong order as this is a follow up to Suburbia's Sacred Heart, but I would like to point out that this was an incredibly engaging read as its own stand alone piece of work that now has me wanting to backtrack.
Framed as a TV documentary, we see a summary of the world of Sacred Heart where saints are apparently real and their powers are documented, but that still doesn't guarantee saintly behavior. The documentary tells the tale of the corruption of Alexander the Lesser and the fall of his congregation, and of the children that his followers abandoned to fend for themselves. There's some very heavy Love & Rockets vibes with a touch of a few more recent underground/indy influences and I am here for it.
This book also features a collection of dream journals from Liz Suburbia, offering a variety of quick and amusing non-linear highlights. I especially love the sinking X-Men themed cruise ship where a band of cosplayers play the 90's cartoon theme song on the deck a la the Titanic violinist scene. Married to Lebron James is also very heartwarming.
In a way I'm kind of glad I went in the wrong order because for whatever reasons (let's say Suburbia's fantastic storytelling) I feel incredibly hooked. This is a solid package clocking in at 72 pages for $11.99 in case you want to start off the same way I did, but Sacred Heart is readily available if ya wanna do it the right way I guess.
While I think this is characterized more as a drama, it read a bit more like horror to me simply for the grim depictions of a cast of unhealthy characters being truly shitty to each other. I appreciate Moyoco Anno's work in that she holds a mirror up to the ugliness of people's behavior and they basically don't flinch and careen headfirst into dramatic car wrecks.
The story follows mild mannered office worker Noko Hanazawa as she struggles with her weight and self-image. She falls deeper and deeper into depression, partially from the bullying from her sadistic and beautiful coworker Mayumi and also from her deeply messed up relationship with her selfish boyfriend Saito. Eventually Noko starts dieting and develops bulimia, gets involved with a creepy old man who gaslights her and tries to manipulate her back into gaining the weight, and becomes a victim of a frame up by her sadistic coworker. A lot happens and no one really learns anything, despite the ending kind of acting like Noko finds comfort in just being herself. After nearly dying, she just kind of 'gets better' in the last few pages, so I did feel like maybe I was missing something (like, an entire chapter of character development).
Part of me wanted more so that elements could be fleshed out better, but another part of me just wanted this to be over with. There's only so much downward spiraling and bad mental health choices you can immerse yourself in for so long before you get fed up with the fact that the core character isn't getting the help they need. And that may have been the point, but at times it's a little tough to read Moyoco Anno's desired tone as it bounces around from dark humor, psychological torture and bullying, quirky office dynamics, unhealthy eroticism, and so on.
It's a tough book for me to recommend, but if you are in the mood for an ugly story about people being bad to each other and themselves then here you go. It has a brutal honesty that I can appreciate, but not one that I need to reread.