My Lesbian Experience With Loneliness

By Nagata Kabi. Released in Japan as “Sabishisugite Lesbian Fuzoku Ni Ikimashita Report” by East Press. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Jocelyne Allen.

This book took me by surprise several times, mot least of which is the fact that it was licensed at all. A realistic look at depression and sexuality done autobiographically, and then released first on the art board Pixiv, then by the small publisher East Press? It was not the type of story I expected to see picked up by the publishers of Monster Girl Encyclopedia. But no publisher ever quite fits its cliche, and Seven Seas decided to take a chance on this book. I’m so glad they did, and you should be as well, because this is a raw but fascinating and ultimately uplifting read for anyone. I was actually surprised at how much of it spoke to me, being that I am seemingly not the typical audience for this book, but the experiences here also hold a touch of the universal, and the way they play out is excellent.

After a brief flashforward to the event on the cover, which is mostly covered in the second half of the book, we get the author’s examination of her life after high school. She was doing art at college but dropped out, and attempts to hold down a part-time job were hampered by her issues of self-esteem, eating disorders, and a serious case of depression. This is not a lighthearted title, and we get a lot of examination of the thought process that goes into being depressed and having anxiety. It’s one of the best parts of the book – by working over everything in such detail, with the author also analyzing her own behavior at the time as she writes it, she shows us how difficult it can be to get yourself out of that hole you dig. There’s also a realization that she may not want to be the person that her parents are pushing her to be – which then leads into an examination of her sexuality.

Again, like the depression, she lays this out in a very straightforward, visible manner, showing how she didn’t even think of herself as a gender, because she didn’t want to be seen first as a woman, then as a person. This leads to her realizing that she’s more attracted to women’s bodies, and a wonderful examination of the need for affection and physical contact, beyond the bounds of sexuality. It culminates in the decision to have a session with a worker from an escort agency, so that she can experience what she’s been obsessing over. Of course, this being realistic autobiography, the experience is as awkward and difficult as you’d imagine (I liked where she expressed regret that she forgot to hug them), but things do end up more hopeful by the end of the book, with the author taking this experience and deciding to use it to create the story we’re reading, and the online reaction she gets, leaves you smiling and hoping that she finds fulfillment.

Basically, this manga may make you uncomfortable at times, but it is well worth it to see how one person can talk about such universal topics as anxiety, depression, and sexual identity on the page. Please go buy it, you won’t regret it.

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