Why so serious?
I loved the first volume of I’ll Give It My All…Tomorrow. Shizuo Oguro, a fat, untalented, forty-year old slacker who ditched his dead-end job in order to become a manga artist, had a relaxed charm about him, and I loved his nonjudgmental nature that was accepting of everyone’s foibles. His interactions with his grumpy father, prostitute daughter, and gangster co-worker were handled in a unique way free of angst and social commentary. They were all just getting along in this thing called life.
Which is why I was disappointed to see Volume Two take a more serious tone. The story looks backwards on the history of some of the characters. We see Shizuo as a young boy, crying over the corpse of his mother who died too young. We see Shizuo’s father laid off from work, and opening a small restaurant which is on the perpetual verge of failure. We see Shizuo’s gangster co-worker Shuichi discovering the body of his suicidal father. All of this takes away from the “Lovable Losers” aspect of “I’ll Give it my All…Tomorrow” and just makes things sad. It’s all a little too much reality into my fantasy.
Not that there aren’t still some good bits here. Shizuo keeps going with his manga, and he actually seems to be improving bit by bit. When the rejection slips stack up a little too high, Shizuo and his father have a blow-out so Shizuo decides to move in with Shuichi. That leads to some comedy, like Shuichi worrying the neighbors will think they are a gay couple, with a great panel of Shizuo in an apron wishing Shuichi a good day at work. But the laughs are too few, and the tears too many.
I had some issues with the translation of this volume as well. Akemi Wegmuller is still doing the translations, but it doesn’t seem as smooth as volume one. I think we get by now that “manager’ is just Shizuo’s nickname at work, and there is no need to see “Hey manager nickname)!” everytime it is used. A single footnote would be sufficient. There is also a crucial scene where Shizuo asks a girl out saying “How about we start out as just friends?” That might work in Japanese, where the context of the situation shows what Shizuo is really asking, but for an English audience the translation makes no sense and a less direct translation would have been better.
I still want to pick up the next volume in the series, but I hope that author Shunju Aono gets the focus back on making Shizuo a character we can root for rather than one we feel sorry for.