Title: I Don't Know How to Give Birth!
Author: Ayami Kazama
Release Date: Autobiographical/Comedy
Publisher: Yen Press
It’s rare to see pregnancy depicted in manga or anime, well, rare in the sense of wholesome content. Sure, there are mothers and fathers galore, but we usually miss out on the childbirthing scenes. I Don’t Know How to Give Birth! by mangaka Ayami Kazama is an autobiographical story about her own journey through pregnancy using comedic and whimsical themes.
After being married for a few years, Ayami Kazama and her husband Azure Konno decide its finally time to have a child. I Don’t Know How to Give Birth! chronicles Kazama’s journey through the pregnancy process, including the struggles of trying to get pregnant, the worries associated with having a child, and the struggles of actually giving birth.
When I first heard the premise of this book, I wasn’t sure how it would turn out or if I would even enjoy it. A manga about pregnancy didn’t really sound like something that could be too engaging, but I still went into the story with an open mind. Little did I know, Kazama’s approach to having a child would completely resonate with me, make me laugh out loud too many times to count, and teach me some things along the way.
Perhaps the best thing about I Don’t Know How to Give Birth! are its panel illustrations. Kazama illustrates 99 percent of the story in a heavily stylized chibi art style. Almost every panel of the manga is incredibly cute or laugh out loud funny, even when Kazama is illustrating something as strenuous as childbirth. Though I was a huge fan of Kazama’s art, 150 pages of just chibi can get a bit old, and it would have been nice to see her branch out into different styles for more than one panel a chapter.
Even with its comedic elements, I Don’t Know How to Give Birth! unfolds into an incredibly wholesome story. Kazama is a likable protagonist, with almost all of her worries and inner monologues feeling precisely like what I might be thinking if I were in her shoes.
Seeing as how she is a mangaka and a bit of a nerd herself, she often approaches different situations in the pregnancy process as if it was a video game or an anime. Hearing her equate things such as toughening up her nipples for breastfeeding to leveling up a character in an RPG never ceased to put a smile on my face.
Perhaps the biggest issue with I Don’t Know How to Give Birth! is how it ends. Seeing as how Kazama finished the manga up when her child was only eight months old, I understand that there is still plenty to be told in her story and the story of her child, but it felt as if things could’ve been wrapped up just a little nicer. Even with two “postpartum anecdotes,” the book just kind of ends without any satisfying conclusion. Maybe this is because Kazama plans on writing a sequel on her adventures raising a child but, seeing as how its been four years since the book released in Japan, I doubt a proper followup will be coming.
Even if you don’t see yourself ever having a child, I’d still recommend picking up I Don’t Know How to Give Birth!. Kazama’s tale through pregnancy is wholesome, funny, and will surely make you smile. As far as endings go, however, don’t expect to walk away from the book feeling completely fulfilled.
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