Complex Age Volume 1 by Yui Sakuma
I enjoy being able to break free from my typical shoujo reading fare now and then, so I was curious to check out Complex Age, a seinen manga about an office lady who is starting to age out of her cosplay habit. Nagisa Katura is a temp worker with a rich inner life. After work, she retreats into her room where she spends all her spare time working on her cosplay outfits in honor of a popular magical girl anime. Nagisa is a perfectionist, not only staying up late to get the details of her costumes correct, she’s also an expert on the body language of all the characters in the Magical Riding Hood Ururu show.
I enjoyed this manga, because it focused so much on personality-based growth and conflict. Nagisa’s age and height make her stand out among other cosplayers, and it was sad to see how her joy in her hobby was shaken a bit when some snarky photographers made comments about her age. Another reminder of Nagisa’s growing older comes when a young cosplayer with the perfect looks to portray Ururu shows up and joins her cosplay group. Looks aren’t really a match for experience and knowledge of a character though, and Nagisa approaches her portrayals with the same type of preparation a serious actress would take on when preparing for a role.
I have to admit, cosplay hasn’t really held much appeal for me personally, but I appreciated the detail and realism Sakuma brought to this story. The fictional anime series that Nagisa and her friends follow is fully realized with distinct characters who all have battle cries that incorporate different types of tea, which I thought was hilarious. Sakuma’s art switches between the more realistic real world and the idealized characters of the anime the characters try to emulate with ease. It is clear that Nagisa isn’t fully satisfied with her current life, and she’s going to change or go through some sort of evolution, and I’m interested in seeing what happens along the way in her journey. This volume also features a one-shot story that touches on similar themes but is very different from the main series. It was interesting to see how the characters and concepts in Complex Age evolved to accommodate the longer series.