If there´s one reason why I love manga as much as I do, it´s because of the uncanny diversity it has to offer. Seriously.
Yaoi, yuri, hentai involving your older sister or even a frog. Manga is weird, and I absolutely love it because of that. If there´s a topic that I just can´t get enough of, it´s the angst genre, especially when it´s about issues like self harm and all that funky stuff. I find it very interesting, and seeing this in pages without colour is always a bit facinating to me.
But manga is still manga, y´know, and because of that, it still tends to be explosive and over the top, hey, I´m not saying it´s bad, I´m just saying that it loses a bit of it´s realism – which personally, I think is the most important factor to consider if we´re writing a story about prostitution and self harm.
Thus comes Keiko Suenobu with her forever popular manga Life, which tells the story of Ayumu, a girl who, after loosing her bestfriend gets bullied by her peers and everything goes downhill from there.
Licensed by Tokypop, Life never made it past it´s ninth volume in the West due to ´shocking content´, I´d take this warning with a grain of salt, honestly, because while Life is definitely graphic, there´s always a sense of hope that everything is going to be alright. I think this is the best part of the manga.
Because yes, the events get proggresively more ridiculous and unrealistic which makes it loose a bit of it´s credibilty and puts a bit of dust on the final, powerful message, but it´s not obnoxious enough for me to not recommend this to you, the reader.
Life is, if anything, interesting and hopeful. It was a good read, and while it may be a bit less impressive than Keiko Suenobu´s other works (Cough, Vitamin.) It has something to say, and left me disgusted, happy and close to crying all in one volume.
Confidential Confessions is exactly everything what Life is while also being exactly the opposite. Confidential Confessions has the same obnoxious-ness Life has, but it has different characters and different situations in every story, which makes it less noticable and a bit more bearable, but this also has a downside.
With almost every Confidential Confessions story (the prostitution pair in the first volume being the only exception) I just couldn´t bring myself to care about the characters, opposed to the characters of Life. Sure the events were undoubtly interesting and I love the manga to pieces, but both these series are flawed in many ways.
Fortunately, they´re also one of their kind, this may not be a viable reason to hold them in a higher regard, but it definitely makes me appreciate them just a bit more.
If you´re feeling funky and what to depress yourself or simply take a peek in the world of prostitution, drugs and bullying, then Life and Confidential Confessions are definitely for you.