Introducing Shizuro Oguro, Manga Artist
I am not quite sure how to classify “I’ll Give It My All…Tomorrow.” Is it a comedy? A slacker-drama? Auto-biographical? All I really know is that it is completely brilliant.
The story begins with our hero, Shizuro Oguro. Overweight, forty years old and a fifteen-year employee of a job he hates, Shizuro is in a classic mid-life crisis. Unsure of what he wants to do, but completely sure he doesn’t want to keep living like he is now, Shizuro quits his job and does…nothing. Sits around in his underwear and plays video games. A month into his new jobless status, and with his father and daughter giving him a hard time, Shizuro has an epiphany about his future. He will become a manga artist.
The fact that Shizuro has never drawn before, got only Ds in art in school, and generally knows nothing about being a manga artist isn’t going to get in his way. With his new life decided, Shizuro sets to it with all the lack-of-dedication that a forty-year old slacker can bring to the table. To keep money in his pockets, Shizuro gets a job at a local fast-food burger joint, and has a variety of misadventures in his quest for publication.
When I flipped the first pages of “I’ll Give It My All…Tomorrow,” (Japanese title: “Orewamada Honkidashiitenaidake” of “I Just haven’t Done My Best Yet.”) I didn’t think I was going to like it as much as I did. The artwork is somewhat primitive and lacking in detail, and the whole thing is unpolished. The comic looks like something that would appear in an underground `zine rather than as a published book. As I got into the story however, and saw how artist Shunju Aono played with surface colors, with perspective and characterization, I saw that this unpolished nature was a conscious choice that added to the story rather than just a lack of skill. The series has a definite and unique look to it.
The real treasure here is the characters. Shizuro is a total slacker, without too many redeeming qualities other than his greatest talent, which is accepting the flaws in others without judging. Because he is such a loser himself, he doesn’t put anyone down for their choices. In one scene, when he is feeling a bit frisky and so heads to a local brothel for recreation, then runs into his high school aged daughter working there, he doesn’t freak out, but just checks in with her to make sure she is OK. When one of his co-workers turns out to have a shady past involving prison, he just blows it off and invites the guy out for drinks. All of this made me love Shizuro myself, and want to cheer him on. He is a supportive guy with a kind heart, and he deserves some success of his own.
“I’ll Give It My All…Tomorrow” is all about personal relationships. Shizuro and his father. Shizuro and his daughter. Shiziro and his agent. Shiziro and his co-workers. Shiziro and himself. There is no action to speak of, unless it is in brief panels where, Walter Mitty-like, Shiziro dreams of himself as an athlete or successful manga artist. Oh, and he gets into a fistfight with God. Can’t forget about that. But that one isn’t a daydream.
Just like life, there are some funny bits here, some sad stuff, some triumphs and some defeats. It is hard to put my finger on what I loved about this comics so much, but there is a lot here to love. Props to translator Akemi Wegmuller who did a great job and delivered some great lines. (“Well you fathered the Stupid Fool, so you are a Stupid Fool too Dad!” “Look, you’ve been stuck in a rut your whole life. It’s been one long slump Sonny”)
Along with the main story, there is a bonus story “To Live” that has Shizuro coming across a young woman attempting suicide due to her past as an adult video actress. In typical Shizuro fashion, he befriends her and watches out for her, completely unconcerned with her past or suicidal tendencies. I hope that this character will reappear, and it actually seems like she could be a good romantic interest for Shizuro (again with great dialog “You want to make out?” “No I don’t” “Mm..of course not.”)
Quirky. Realistic. Funny., Sad. “I’ll Give It My All…Tomorrow” is many things, and all of them good.