Shizuo Ogura is a single dad and low-level salaryman who, at the age of forty, drops out of the workforce to find himself. In actuality, where he “finds” himself is lost, unmotivated, and paralyzed by guilt and an increasing sense of panic. When inspiration finally hits and he announces to his family–his elderly father and teenaged daughter–that he’s decided to become a mangaka, the news is not terribly well-received.
Determined to prove himself, Shizuo digs in enthusiastically, despite a lack of any previous ambition or experience in the field. Unfortunately, his resolve fades quickly under the pressures of everyday life, eventually becoming part of an endless pattern of grand declarations, chronic procrastination, and unfulfilled promises, both to himself and to his family.
This series is technically a comedy, but it has a firm grasp on several unpleasant truths that are just too real to laugh at for anyone who has experienced this kind of profound loss of confidence at an age many would consider to be too late for a fresh start. Furthermore, Shizuo’s life lends itself to a series of humiliations, beginning just pages in when he runs into his teenaged daughter at a massage parlor (she’s working, he’s just finished being, uh, serviced) and going downhill from there. Though he’s moderately likable, Shizuo’s persistent inability to improve his circumstances is painful to watch, and it’s difficult to imagine how the series will remain readable if something doesn’t change pretty shortly into its next volume.
That said, volume one is genuinely funny and often insightful, especially when portraying Shizuo’s strained relationship with his daughter, who finally lets out some of her frustration with him near the end. “What would you do if I got published?” Shizuo asks her, after a volume’s worth of progressively pathetic starts and stops. “I really don’t know,” she responds. “So get published and we’ll find out.”
Aono draws Shizuo in a style that should feel cartoonish and exaggerated, but doesn’t. Shizuo’s hunched shoulders, awkward posture, and oversized head ably represent the epic torpidity of his character in both sickening and sympathetic terms, stopping just short of caricature. As a result, Shizuo exists in a sort of amplified reality that is both uncomfortable to accept and too real to ignore.
Whether providing a cynical chuckle or hitting just a bit too close to home, I’ll Give It My All… Tomorrow is a surprisingly compelling read.
Review copy provided by the publisher. Review originally published at Examiner.com.