cover image Minami’s Lover

Minami’s Lover

Shungiku Uchida, trans. from the Japanese by H. Paige. Fantagraphics, $29.99 (200p) ISBN 978-1-68396-760-6

Uchida’s classic manga, first serialized in the underground Japanese magazine Garo, sketches the outline of a cute rom-com fantasy, then digs into murky psychological territory. Chiyomi, a high school girl, has gone missing, and only her boyfriend, Minami, knows the truth: she has inexplicably shrunken to six inches high and is living in his bedroom. The young couple reaffirm their love and even work out a sex life of sorts, but Chiyomi’s reduced stature inevitably alters their relationship. Minami feeds his girlfriend, sews tiny clothes, figures out ways for her to use the toilet and take a bath, and haltingly develops empathy: “She’s so tiny, yet... she’s a real person,” he marvels. As time passes, however, he begins to tire of having to care for a vulnerable doll-woman. Their situation becomes a funhouse-mirror fable about the responsibilities and anxieties that come with a committed relationship. Uchida’s loose, rounded art feels effortlessly appealing; she seems to delight in drawing the winsome, often-nude Chiyomi and her miniature accessories. Darkly funny, sexually frank, and unexpectedly heartbreaking, this slippery parable defies expectations at every turn. (June)