Title: My Alcoholic Escape From Reality
Author: Kabi Nagata
Release Date: Mat 11, 2021
Publisher: Seven Seas
My Alcoholic Escape From Reality is a memoir about the author’s time dealing with alcoholism regarding both her hospital stay and how it affected her manga work. In relation to Kabi-san’s other work, this functions as a pseudo-sequel in that they affect her relationship with her parents.
My Alcoholic Escape From Reality starts with an abrupt trip to the hospital after a bout of bar hopping. The juxtaposition between the author’s shame with her actions and the resulting revelations provides a genuine atmosphere from the start. Aside from alcoholism and writing, Kabi-san muses on aspects of commonly relatable issues, such as the duality of wisdom and despair of aging and the different types of suffering.
The author’s inner labyrinth regarding her personal logic is an interesting side note apart from the story. It is evident that Kabi-san constantly looks for connections between any unrelated factors to make sense of her world. These musings end up tangling up her work life, wallowing in a cyclic trend of stress from neglecting to do enough work.
These feelings translate graphically into the linework. The usual, thin strokes that outline the characters and the moody, blank backgrounds lash out in harsh blows at climatic scenes. The harsh brush of unhealthy emotions shred the negative space, contrasting the only other color used, a meek, pumpkinish orange. Otherwise, emotions such as wistfulness or joy were pleasant and easy to understand in the usual style.
The presentation of new subjects were fast-paced, matching with the anxious mind of the author. However, it was easy to keep up with when an idea is accompanied by literal interpretations of her pain – or her liver. Repeating gags serve to decrease the tension in what could have been a grimmer-toned narrative. Examples include visiting her doctor, usually meaning bad news, but his happy-go-lucky attitude simmers down the intensity.
Being a memoir, the pace is difficult to manage. While there cannot be much dallying of actual events happening, the change in clip between brusque introspective moments conflicts with its meta aspects. Discussing the themes of a manga within the manga itself seems too on the nose as if the author is discussing these points out of fear that they are not adequately present in the text.
Compiled with this are the dull junctures in the hospital. It is thematically relevant to express how boring and restless it is to be confined in an unknown and seemingly uncaring place. But as the main setting of a majority of the work, the prose of the repetitive happenings were as boring as the events themselves.
My Alcoholic Escape From Reality is a palpable view of what many kinds of suffering can look like. Witnessing the pain from both the personal and professional settings unleashes feelings of empathy only such works can. Despite how emotionally touching the narrative is, the memoir recounts the absolutely unvarnished version of the events. By going too into detail in the thought process of manga development and the monotonous medical treatment, the manga stumbles too far from its strength to claim any cohesiveness.
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