My Lovesick Life as a ’90s Otaku, vol. 1 | Review
My Lovesick Life as a ’90s Otaku, vol. 1
Story and art by Nico Nicholson
Age rating: Teen 13+
Ever wonder what being an otaku (a person who is obsessed with manga, anime, and other forms of Japanese or East Asian popular culture) was like before it became mainstream? Well, this manga is the one you should definitely read to get a glimpse of a life that seems impossible to imagine at this time.
Trust me, it happened. I lived it, and I have the battle scars as well as the late-stage success to prove it.
My Lovesick Life as a ’90s Otaku, or Renee’s Teenage Years because that’s exactly what it felt like I was reading but I digress, can be considered a very nostalgic trip for some, while a learning experience for those who can’t grasp the idea of anime and manga not being cherished as it is now.
The story is centered on Megumi, a 42-year-old divorced mother of a teen girl, who is a die-hard anime fan. Seeing her daughter embrace her favorite genre so openly causes Megumi to reflect on her own teenage years. The story shifts to the viewpoint of 16-year-old Megumi, who can’t show her love of being an otaku because of past bullying by her peers. She has a crush on the class president, Masamune, who openly admits to disliking otaku. This, of course, crushes Megumi, as she wants to be seen as normal to others but must hide that she’s an otaku. The only person she feels open to share her love for anime and manga with is her penpal, Yui.
Now this is a time before the internet, where penpals would actually write to each other and mail their letters. So primitive.
Excuse me while I cry over my self-deprecating sarcasm for a moment.
Megumi and Yui share their love for anime and send each other their own drawings of their favorite characters. In one of the letters, Megumi shares how sick she is of boys because she feels she won’t find a guy that will accept her as she is, and how she’s glad to find a fellow girl like Yui who accepts her as she is.
The kicker is that Megumi has no idea that her friend Yui is actually … a BOY!!! And he wants to maintain his connection to Megumi by any means, even if it means pretending to be a girl.
In addition, there’s a student in Megumi’s class named Miku, and she knows Megumi’s secret.
And Miku thinks it’s cool because she is an otaku too, and proud of it. Miku wants Megumi to embrace her true self, and tells her, “One anime can change a person forever. One manga can stir a person’s soul.. Or even save their life. When something has such power, why is it so bad to love it so fiercely?”
Preach it, Miku!
So Megumi finds herself having to choose between two roads: to embrace her authentic self or to change for someone in order to gain acceptance.
Now we don’t know what leads to future Megumi’s divorce, but it will be an interesting journey to experience. In addition, this story is very relatable as some teens are still being bullied for their fandoms and look for safe places to enjoy what they love. Thank God for comic cons, anime clubs, and streaming services. Even for an adult, My Lovesick Life hits every feeling of being a loner in loving something that is new and not popular (yet). There’s one scene where Megumi’s daughter asks her mother about her love life. After Megumi tells her daughter that love is not on her mind, her daughter tells her, “You’re young-looking. You could love again.”
I didn’t need to feel the gut punch THAT hard, but again I digress.
Overall, My Lovesick Life as a ’90s Otaku is a fun-paced ride with lots of comedy and ’90s nostalgia for all ages. Even the cover of the manga is filled with references to the ’90s, and feel free to list them in the comment section. And who knows what can happen to an otaku who stays true to themselves?
Maybe they might become a creative force in the cosplay world, a mangaka, or a published expert that speaks at comic cons and events, writes reviews of recommended manga, and shares how manga can be great for socio-emotional learning and showing people of all ages how awesome it is to be their authentic self?
Oh, the possibilities!
About Renee Scott
Renee Scott is a young adult librarian based in NYC, as well as a dedicated otaku and gamer. She is a lifelong fan of comics, anime, and manga. She can be found on Twitter at @libraryladynyc, and on her review blog, The Library Lady of NYC Reviews.
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