Sunday 12 October 2014

BB: In Clothes Called Fat review

BB: In Clothes Called Fat Story & Art by Moyoco Anno Review

From the publisher: “From the pen of Moyoco Anno comes a stunning tale of self-image and self-loathing. In Clothes Called Fat details the lives of young women earnestly revealing the struggles women may have with their bodies and sexuality.

Noko appears to be living a great life, she's got a good job and a loving boyfriend, but beneath a thin veneer is a young woman who is struggling with her self-image and self-confidence as she fights to keep her weight down. To Noko, being 5 pounds overweight means being miles away from happiness in her lovelife and in her work-place.

Originally serialized in a major weekly newsmagazine for adult women (Shukan Josei, the first of its kind to be launched in Japan), this early gem from graphic novel megastar Moyoco Anno may be her most searing work to be published in English yet, closer in spirit to some of the best stateside indie comics—ironically, given its mainstream pedigree—than to most translated manga. In Clothes Called Fat is an indispensable addition to your rowing library of sequential art for mature readers.”

Despite my love of the author’s work this is not her strongest piece. The publisher has it (accurately) framed as a black comedy and they are certainly correct in that categorization. Of course the problem with black comedies and stories in general is that you need at least one character you can sympathize with on some level. That is not the case with In Clothes Called Fat. It really is not funny either as opposed to Happy Mania.

It’s just uncomfortable. The characters keep pointing out how horrible the protagonist is… she is nowhere near as unlikable as the rest of the cast until she is driven into the world of weight loss. At book’s end she has become as vein as the rest of them. Really the book functions best as a commentary on how looks obsessed society is. Unless that was the goal from the beginning in which case it succeeded magnificently.  So in conclusion I would say this book is an absolute enigma to me. It is compelling in completely different ways then it was intended to be so… make of that what you will.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

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