All My Darling Daughters


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All My Darling Daughters


  • Words: Fumi Yoshinaga
  • Art: Fumi Yoshinaga
  • Publisher: Viz Media
  • Price: $12.99
  • Release Date: Jan 20, 2010

You know, I really didn’t want to like this comic.  Every testosterone injected cell of my body screamed at me through out the reading.  I wanted it to be a melodramatic soap opera.  I wanted it to be Sex & the City.  I wanted it to be Desperate Housewives.  In other words, I wanted to be able to easily dismiss it.

Fortunately, Yoshinga is a formidable opponent.  She easily broke through my male chauvinism.  Well, not really.  It took about half the book and one particularly shocking story to get me out of my protective safety zone.

Suffice it to say, this is not going to play well to the adrenaline junkies who dig Deadpool and Siege as the end all of their comic fandom.  It will play well to those that have read Amy Tan or Anne Tyler and love a good character set.  I am sure there are moments in this book that would need tissues for a less male reader.  I trudged through them and got to the other side.

Now, despite my bit of fun at this being a chick lit book, I would not have been able to finish reading this if it had been written by a less capable writer.  The first story didn’t really float my boat, if you know what I’m saying.  But there was the glimmer that there was something more going on in this book.

And boy, was there.  Yoshinga uses a framework of the relationship between Yukiko and her mother to tell five short stories about Yukiko’s friends.  What is revealed is that life is difficult for women no matter what generation they are from.  The aspect of beauty plays a defining role in their lives and it seems that their past is always haunting their relationships with men.  What is powerful is the way that these women are able to overcome it all and become beautiful women as a result.

The writing is clear, and the reader is ably transported between scenes that should be jarring or sometimes confusing as times and ages are defied.  The strong character given each woman makes them memorable even if their names escape the reader.  Through tales of the present and the distant path, it is shown that the author has created full beings here, they are indeed Ms. Yoshinaga’s darling daughters.  There is a beauty in their struggles that comes from honest writing.

For the most part, the art is as accomplished as the writing.  The line seems to lose its edge towards the end of the book as if the stress of producing the chapters in whatever format they originally appeared caused the artist to rush towards the end.  More baffling than that is the use of a standard manga device.  I don’t know when it started, but when extreme motion is shown in most manga, the detail of the design gives way for a more base cartoon style.  It is like Dave Sim drawing Glamourpuss but turning the model into Lucy Van Pelt when she cries or yells.  It is jarring and while conventional for the medium, it is off-putting.  That being said, the emotional content of the more subtle panels and the way the panels help to effortlessly convey the story put the creator of Ooku in the upper echelons of manga artists.

If there is a special woman in your life that has been resistant to your comic collection, this may be a better starting point than Strangers in Paradise.  It should easily entertain those who tune into the national broadcast network’s early afternoon fare.

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