I’ve always loved reading, finding new books to read is something I very much enjoy! I love a book or story that I can emotionally connect with and open up to; it’s very important for me to be able to finish a read and truly enjoy it.
I’ve never read a manga before. I didn’t think it would be something I’d enjoy as I was pretty sure they all followed a certain genre/theme. I first came across “My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness” by Nagata Kabi online. I think it was posted on Instagram by someone, I can’t entirely remember if I’m honest! (Yes that is the name of the manga).
The first thing that attracted me to this read was the artwork. I love her monochrome use of pink throughout and her simple minimalistic sketches. I love how she can depict her inner emotions and feelings through drawings and that was something I really connected with. Aside from that, this was a story about a woman’s struggles with depression and sexuality, and something I felt like I could connect with.
The main story follows Kabi and her struggles being a woman in her twenties, living through a haze of depression and moving from job to job. A key turning point for her is aged 28, she decides to hire a female escort to understand more about herself and what she fears she’s missing out on whilst trying to please her parents.
Aside from the obvious storyline of Kabi exploring her sexuality, there were some other key themes which I found really interesting and connected with. I love her brutally honest and raw style of writing and I found her story funny, but relatable. Firstly, mental health is heavily featured throughout the story looking at key themes I struggle a lot with myself such as anxiety, depression, fear, and loneliness. I really connected with certain aspects of the story and it was heavily inspiring for me, to see a woman so down, lost and isolated, push away other people’s expectations of herself and follow the path she wanted and really break the mould. I’ve personally had many moments in my life where I’ve really felt quite lost, especially just after finishing University. This addressed it being okay to feel lost sometimes because I am still young and finding myself.
Kabi clearly being a creative person, I also really connected with her ideas of depression draining your creativity and making you feel almost useless and lost. I’m a very creative person myself and I love making things and writing things, that’s why I love creating content whether anyone reads it or not, because I’m doing it for myself. But because I’m this creative person always wanting to put something out into the world, I get upset when I’m not creating things, or I loose my spark to create something new. And it can really make me feel quite lost and useless, like I’m not succeeding. However, as she covers in her story, it’s important to do what you want to do, and these moments of uncertainty are okay. After all we are only human.
Another thing I fully connected with was Kabi’s acceptance by others holding her back. I very much can become tangled up in other people’s opinions and will make life decisions based on the people around me and what will benefit them and what I think they want me to do rather than what I want to do and what I should do for myself. This is something I am becoming more aware, and I’ve noticed a change in my happiness and maturity since I’ve put myself first in some of my decisions. I definitely don’t think it is selfish to put yourself first every once in a while and it’s been a big turning point for me in going the path I want to.
The manga also interestingly highlights the struggles of other cultures, and the problems faced going against the norms of Japanese culture, such as following a more creative job role in life, and also the complicated relationship between Japanese society and the LGBTQ+ community.
This got a lot more deep than I originally expected it to but I hope you enjoyed if you read to the end! I don’t think there was much of a clear mission for Kabi when writing this manga. However, with many things themed around mental health and self-exploration, it was very successful in that making her audience feel less alone, and less strange. After all we are just people and emotions are valid. I’m sure each person would take something different from this read however I connected with it strongly and was creatively inspired after reading. I enjoyed this strange read, as weird as it got, and I would highly recommend to any anxious readers who would connect with any themes of sexuality, anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.