Wednesday, June 12, 2019

All My Darling Daughters - catching up with a classic (manga review)

Fumi Yoshinaga
All My Darling Daughters - 8/10

I came across All My Darling Daughters (by Fumi Yoshinaga) in a list of top josei manga. It is a single volume that tells interrelated stories about a woman, her friends, her mother, and other relatives. Published in English in 2010 by Viz, it remains a powerful set of stories. I am so glad to add another quality josei volume to my collection. As far as I can tell, they are too few and far between in English. As always, please let me know your favorite, legally published in English, josei (or shoujo or yuri) titles because I'm always looking for more!

The first story concerns a young woman, living at home with her mom. Her father passed away when she was young and out of nowhere, her mother has just remained someone younger than her own adult daughter! These three people form the backbone for all the stories in the volume and all three are wonderfully, and fully, realized people. They have faults and good qualities, unique personalities, back stories, motivations, and they grow and change. To do all this with these three, plus the other characters, in a single volume, is simply incredible writing.

Because each short story stands on its own, I won't talk too much about them so as not to spoil the joy of reading them. Other than that there is the above trio, the various stories focus on the daughter's boyfriend, the step-fathers friend, an aunt, a grandmother, and a few others who populate this beautiful collection. We get an almost arranged marriage, a seemingly desperate young woman who turns out not to be, a seemingly strong women who somehow falls behind, lost opportunities, childhood trauma, and above all: complicated, imperfect, and unresolved feelings. You know, messy feelings, like we all have. We don't get pretty bows tied up at the end of each story, these are snapshots and we know that their lives will continue evolving beyond the pages. All My Darling Daughters is a collection of stories that reveals some of the multitude of complexities of various women's lives and presents them all without judgment.

The art is relatively simple, with fairly minimal backgrounds, and a somewhat angular use of line. There isn't much complex use of screen tones, just some simple blacks and grays. But the art is still appealing and serves the story well. It isn't standout on its own, but doesn't get in the way, and that's fine given the high quality of the writing.

I'm so glad I picked this up (even if it's 9 years after publication). If you love josei, and really want a well written collection of lightly intertwined short stories about adult women, this is definitely the volume for you. All My Darling Daughters by Fumi Yoshinaga - 8/10.


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