Insufficient Direction by Moyoco Anno

Vertical is such a great publisher. I’m turning into even more of a fangirl because Gundam: The Origin, What Did You Eat Yesterday?, and Insufficient Direction all make me very happy. Some of the online reviews I’ve skimmed about this manga tend to focus more on the opportunity to find out what Hideaki Anno is like, but I always found myself more intrigued by getting a bit of an autobiographical glimpse into Moyoco Anno’s home life. She’s obviously fiercely intelligent, with a cynical edge to her manga like Happy Mania and Sakuran.

Insufficient Direction
is an affectionate and humorous look at what it is like to be married to the Ultimate Otaku. Anno portrays herself as a toddler wearing a one piece suit named Rompers and her husband looks like a bearded five-year-old with a beer belly, who is referred to as Director-kun. The manga details the hazards of geekdom, including how to shop for wedding outfits when one part of the couple wants to cosplay as Ultraman, anime song earworms, large collections of action figures and dvds, and superhero posing contests. Rompers gradually finds her personality slowly adjusting to Director-kun’s as she accidentally binge watches Gundam and finds herself making random geeky cultural references.

Anno’s style in Insufficient Direction is basically a cartoonish chibi way of drawing both her and her husband, but I was amused by the panels here and there where her normal manga style peeked through, when she was sitting around talking to her assistants or portraying a goofy story made up by her husband. Overall, this manga is an affectionate portrayal of a marriage, with give and take on both sides as Rompers tries to get Director-kun to be more healthy and Director-kun tries to get his wife to become the ultimate otaku bride.

There’s an essay by Hideaki Anno in the back of the book, and it is clear how much he respects his wife’s talent. I also appreciated the copious notes included in this volume, which are necessary for anyone who doesn’t have a ton of knowledge about Japanese tv shows and anime from the 60s and 70s. I enjoyed the episodic nature of this manga, which made it easy to pick up and put down if I was just in the mood to read a chapter or two. This is a must read if you enjoy slice of life manga, or if you are a fan of either Hideaki or Moyoco Anno.

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