MANGA REVIEW | "That Time the Manga Editor Started a New Life in the Countryside" - Vol. 1
It takes a big shakeup to make a major change in one’s life. For author Kumagae, it took his manga magazine shutting down for him to discover what he wanted in life. And what he wanted would require him to go from his comfortable city life to the hot and unpredictable realm of the rural area. Thus begins That Time the Manga Editor Started a New Life in the Countryside, a title that certainly explains itself well.
Kumagae’s move to the country isn’t quite sporadic. In fact, he literally had to dip his feet into the rice paddies before he knew what he wanted to truly do. Although his need to quit his job as a manga editor was strong, there were two things keeping him from going through it. The first was his boss, who constantly pushes Kumagae to stick around and find a new hit series to aid in serialization. But perhaps his biggest hurdle is his cosplaying newlywed wife Miyu, whom he can’t find the proper way to bring up the news that he aims to quit his job.
What starts as a temporary escape from the big city slowly evolves into a permanent one. After spending a couple of weeks preparing his rice paddy for harvest, the desire to stay for good grows as fast as a weed. The sunshine, the mud between his toes, and the beautiful scenery were the things that helped awaken Kumagae’s need to leave. But it takes Miyu discovering this new side of Kumagae — which was far better than her thinking he was being unfaithful — to finally pull the trigger and set off on a new adventure.
Although That Time the Manga Editor Started a New Life in the Countryside sounds like a fairytale dream come true, Kumagae makes sure that this wasn’t always the case. Making the change from manga editor to farmer sounds extreme, but it’s a change that felt easy for the author. It’s when it’s time for the move when the real challenges started to pile up. And the biggest challenge for him and Miyu is finding a place to call their home. (As someone who just had to do this himself when he moved to Tokyo, I could totally relate to these two’s conundrum.)
But That Time the Manga Editor Started a New Life in the Countryside doesn’t discourage the need to change. Quite the contrary, it emphasizes how important it is to make big changes for the sake of one’s happiness. Although Kumagae liked his job as an editor, him being forced to transfer made him realize that he wasn’t in love with his career. It’s a situation that even Miyu realizes, as she points out how much they’re apart despite them recently getting married. Even if a new pathway on life can be filled with uncertainty, a happiness-filled destination is all the more reason for traversing it!
The hardest part of every new adventure is taking that first step. Kumagae does an excellent job showcasing that challenge via his internal conflict. He constantly wonders if he could actually quit as a manga editor, on top of finding a way to make a living in the country. Thankfully, with a supporting wife and a plethora of new friends — including rice paddy rental staff member Chika — he realizes that the time has come to press “Start” in this new life game of his. And even when things get tough, the good stuff about his new surroundings certainly outweighs the bad.
Artist Hishiwo Miyazawa keeps the look of Kumagae’s story both cute and vibrant. Its characters are drawn with a bit of fluffy adorableness, especially when Miyu and her cosplay skills are on display. The nature shots are drawn beautifully, giving way to the sights that pushed the author to make the change he did. Where the art shines is in its nods and parodies to other properties, which range from Attack on Titan to The Kindaichi Case Files.
That Time the Manga Editor Started a New Life in the Countryside is a good comfy read for those looking for a big life change. Whether you aim to find a new job or a new location, Kumagae’s story looks to push readers towards making those sacrifices in the name of happiness. Although this is just the beginning of Kumagae and Miyu’s new life, one can bet that this newlywed couple have made the right decision. Seeking a new path in life can be scary, but That Time the Manga Editor Started a New Life in the Countryside shows that making that first big step will lead any passionate person towards the joy that they greatly deserve.
Promotional consideration provided by Kodansha Manga. In stores October 3!