Note: Review copy supplied by Seven Seas Entertainment
My Alcoholic Escape From Reality
Seven Seas Entertainment
Story & Art: Nagata Kabi
Nagata Kabi’s downward spiral is getting out of control, and she can’t stop drinking to soothe the ache of reality. After suffering from unbearable stomach pains, she goes to a clinic, where she is diagnosed with pancreatitis—and is immediately hospitalized. A new chapter unfolds in Nagata Kabi’s life as she struggles to find her way back to reality and manga creation in the wake of her breakdown.
Coming into this one, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Of course, I’m aware of My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness and My Solo Exchange Diary, but I haven’t ready either as yet. So, this is essentially my first look at Nagata Kabi’s work.
The first thing to note is that the art is actually quite wonderful. I’m a fan of simple, or indeed blank, backgrounds when they’re done well. Dogs: Bullets and Carnage by Shirow Miwa, for example, makes great use of blank space. Here, we see something similar. A lot of the background work is relatively simple, interspersed with more detailed pieces when required. The effect is that, rather than drawing your attention to a busy backdrop, you’re focus is placed firmly on the words and the characters. The joy of that here is that, visually, the book does a great job of making things clear. This isn’t a manga where you study every individual line of a complex piece, it’s one where the faces and poses tell you everything you need to know without being overblown. Body language is important, and it is treated as such here.
Knowing that the characters and story are real has an interesting effect too. The high stakes here have real-world consequences, and you really end up wanting to see Nagata Kabi come through it all. One thing I found really interesting in that regard is that the book comes with the note that everything is told purely through the author’s experience and perception. I’ve seen that before in another true tale of addiction: Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel. The difference between the two is that I don’t expect My Alcoholic Escape From Reality to receive quite such a mixed reaction. Nagata Kabi is wholly sympathetic throughout, even when the predicament she found herself in was entirely forged through her own decisions and actions. You want to see a happy ending here.
The book was also one that hit me quite hard. I don’t drink anymore, not more than one or two drinks a year. I never had pancreatitis, but I did get close to having a real problem. Seeing how bad things could have gone reminds me that I made the right choice. Then, there was her revelation about love and loneliness. I cried when I read that.
Whether you’re invested in her work already, or you just want a relatable, human story, Nagata Kabi has you covered. This is an easy 5 out of 5, and worthy of a place on any bookshelf.