Attention: This review will touch on topics of suicide and abuse.
Friendship is a powerful thing. It can reach across space, time, and even death. My Broken Mariko focuses on the last one in heartbreaking fashion. In a truly mature way, the manga goes through what it is like for people mourning the loss of their friend. How even in death, that bond of friendship won’t go away.
The main character, Shiino, learns about Mariko’s suicide while eating at a ramen shop. To her, Mariko was her world. Friends since childhood, Shiino and Mariko went through so much. The good times when they were alone, the horrible times when Mariko’s father abused her. But through it all, they supported each other, found comfort and love in one another. For Shiino, it’s all gone. As her way of mourning, Shiino goes on a journey to spread Mariko’s ashes and, as Shiino sees it, discover why Mariko left her.
As you can tell, this manga takes on serious subject matter. Themes like suicide and abuse can become explotive or “pain-fests” meant to only make the reader suffer. The author, Waka Hirako, is able to side-step these pitfalls. Hirkao’s mother was a victim of abuse, and they were able to effectively portray abuse’s effects on the page. Instead of showing the abuse, we see the after effects on Mariko, and in turn the emotional toll it takes on Shiino. Reading this book, you are able to empathize with the characters, and it makes their choices so heart-breaking.
As someone who has lost a loved one, Shiino’s emotions as she mourns are very real. The sudden remembrance of memories and imaginary conversations with your loved one,are all things I went through when in mourning. I could easily connect with her. Accurately portraying these emotions visually is very hard to do, and it makes this book very powerful. Mirako is able to do this with art that mimics Shiino’s state of mind. Simple actions are exaggerated and the characters are drawn off-kilter, effectively illustrating the disconnected feeling one experiences during the morning process. It also allows for moments of comedy that are exactly where they need to be.
My Broken Mariko is a rare manga that doesn’t get published often. It’s a character drama set in the real world, and portrays subject matter most shy away from. I thank Yen Press for bringing this manga to English audiences. It’s one of my favorite manga from this year and one I will remember for a long time.
Quick Note: This book also contains a short story, Yiska. If you’re a fan of modern westerns, it’s a must-read.
Shiino is an ill-tempered office assistant, but when her friend Mariko dies unexpectedly, she becomes determined to get to the bottom of this mystery. Portraying the soulful connection between girls, this is a striking story of sisterhood and romance.Add to CartLearn More