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3 Things Thursday: The Daily Grind

For a woman in her early forties, I’m relatively new to the traditional workweek, and from a former outsider’s perspective, I can recognize that it has its pros and cons. On one hand, I’ve found it fairly restrictive–imposing an alarming level of structure and routine on parts of one’s life it seems as though it shouldn’t even touch. On the other, having spent years churning out eight shows a week on a pretty steady basis, the vast bulk on Saturdays and Sundays, I’ve come to fully appreciate the previously unknown wonder that is “the weekend.”

Either way, whether it’s the theater, the office, the restaurant, or any of the other seemingly infinite number of workplaces operating daily in the world, the one thing nearly all of us have in common is the imperative of work. And that imperative ensures that we will encounter any number of long, difficult days.

Most of us have our own ways of dealing with the stress of the daily grind. For instance, I usually play music in my office while I’m working, which helps me to stay focused and (hopefully) relaxed. I also bring my lunch to work, so that I can spend my lunchtime hanging out on Twitter or writing midday blog posts, like 3 Things Thursday, which has become a nice noontime break for me each week. Then there are days like today, of course, where my workload is so overwhelming that even lunchtime becomes a forgotten luxury.

So. Since it was the workday, today, that kept me from posting 3 Things in a timely manner, I thought I’d pick out a few favorite manga that center on the workplace! Too bad I wrote about Antique Bakery just last week!

3 favorite manga that take place at work:

1. Ristorante Paradiso | Natsume Ono | Viz Media – It’s a rare workplace, of course, that offers up such a smorgasbord of distinguished older gentleman, and isn’t it a shame? A short summary from my discussion at Off the Shelf: “A young woman, Nicoletta, seeks out her mother (who abandoned her for love) with the intention of outing her as a divorcée to her current husband. But things immediately become more complicated as she finds herself torn between resentment over her mom’s happiness and a desire to be a part of the life her mom has built for herself. Meanwhile, everyone else is similarly conflicted over something–the mom, everyone at the restaurant she runs with her husband, and the much older man Nicoletta develops feelings for. No easy solutions are presented, but nothing becomes overly-dramatic either. It’s a fairly quiet story about a bunch of people just being people, for better or worse.”

If only restaurant work was always as elegant as the world of Ristorante Paradiso!

2. Suppli | Mari Okazaki | Tokyopop – I’ve fallen behind on this smart story about a twenty-something office lady and her trials in work and love. I’ve also never reviewed it.

Here’s a quick summary from the lovely Michelle Smith: “When Minami’s boyfriend breaks up with her, she realizes she has no friends, and so instead throws herself into the only thing in her life—her job at an advertising agency. Gradually, her eyes open to the people around her, and she gets to know them. Two of her male coworkers are also interested in her, one who kind of ineptly pines around and says the wrong thing all the time and another who has suffered his own heartbreak and attracts Minami by virtue of his neediness.”

Far too little of this type of josei has made it over this way. I cross my fingers for more!

3. Black Jack | Osamu Tezuka | Vertical, Inc. – It’s an unconventional choice, perhaps, but the world is Black Jack’s workplace, and I can hardly think of a another manga character as consumed by his work as he is. From my discussion of volume ten: “Though Ode to Kirihito provides the kind of overarching narrative I generally prefer, the sheer length of Black Jack allows for a more intense study of a single character than you’re likely to find almost anywhere. Black Jack is absolutely, gorgeously ambiguous in just about every way … He’s not really above anything, including lying, cheating, and outright revenge. One of the most riveting stories in this volume, for instance, is one in which he’s approached by his estranged father who begs him to perform a vital facial reconstruction on his current wife (the woman he left Black Jack’s mother for). Black Jack agrees to do the surgery, but he wreaks his vengeance in a truly coldblooded fashion.”

Aaaaand, that makes my day seem really not so bad. :D

So, readers, what are some of your favorite work-centered manga?

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  1. My favorite work manga is the double feature of Suppli (the recent 4/5 volume release made me release how great it was) and my all-time favorite josei Tramps Like Us. I’d also love to see Hatari Man (is that the right title?) translated at some point.

  2. Definitely agree with you on your first two choices and I’d go with Saturn Apartments as my third choice since I’m into slice-of-life sci-fi right now and Iwaoka does such a wonderful job of making window washing seem like a fascinating profession.

  3. I absolutely second all three of these, but there are three more I’d happily add:

    Paradise Kiss, by Ai Yazawa. I know they’re students, but I think of their studio as a workplace, and they very much treat it as one, and they’re all very focused on their creative endeavors and what they’ll mean for their future careers. (A runner-up in this category would be Banri Hidaka’s V.B. Rose.)

    Planetes, by Makoto Yukimura. For the same reasons Eric mentioned Saturn Apartments, basically.

    The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, by Eiji Otsuka and Housui Yamazaki. I have a total weakness for “dealing with the dead” stories, and I like the cast of this series so very much, plus the endearing style of it all.

    Other runners-up: One Piece, if you consider piracy a legitimate profession; Oishinbo, which looks closely at both journalists and people in the food-related professions; and Antique Bakery, because it is the best manga in the history of ever.

    On the wish-list front, how about Bartender and Hataraki Man, just for a start?

    • I can get on board with your definition of the ParaKiss studio as a workplace! Great choices all-around, here, and yes, Antique Bakery is the best manga in the history of ever and that’s a FACT. :D


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