HomeComics/MangaMANGA REVIEW | "My Lovesick Life as a ‘90s Otaku" - Volume One

MANGA REVIEW | "My Lovesick Life as a ‘90s Otaku" - Volume One

MANGA REVIEW | "My Lovesick Life as a ‘90s Otaku" - Volume One

“Today’s otaku don’t know how good they have it,” thinks Megumi Sato, a forty-two year-old single mother and focus of Nico Nicholson’s My Lovesick Life as a ‘90s Otaku. And to be fair, she’s 100% right. During that time, admitting that you liked anime was worse than saying you were a Trekkie or a Star Wars fan. A mere mention of Sailor Moon or Goku was asking for a trip to Swirly Town or Wedgie City, with even tabletop gaming nerds aligning themselves with the schoolyard bullies. But now, anime and manga rule the world, whilst the other sci-fi stuff are but mere shells of their former selves. **insert evil laugh here**

So yes, anime fans and manga readers are now looked at with admiration. But it wasn’t an easy battle for us, especially those who planted their boots on the ground first for the likes of Robotech and Ranma ½. We’ve got those stories about what lengths we had to go to not just find the anime stuff we loved, but also hide it from the biggest critics. Have you ever had to go to Suncoast to spend $20 for a two-episode VHS of the uncut Tenchi Muyo!? Because I did, and let me tell you: my wallet still has PTSD over the amount of money I spent on overpriced anime!

Sorry, old war flashback took over. Where was I? Oh yeah, My Lovesick Life as a ‘90s Otaku. So Megumi, who now has an anime-loving daughter of her own, reflects on her high school life, where she did her very best to hide her hobby. She enters Tama North Public High School, and attempts to blend in with the other kids. But her nervous introverted self often takes over, as she fantasizes over the likes of Slam Dunk and Evangelion. That’s when Masamune Kaji enters her life.

At first, Kaji seems intimidating, giving off bully and punk vibes. But Megumi soon finds out that he’s the class president, and a wiz at basketball. After an afternoon with him involving a scuffle and a nap, Megumi may just have found a true high school crush. But there’s a problem: Kaji doesn’t just dislike otaku; he downright despises them! So poor Megumi must now do her best to hide this side of her from the most popular boy at school.

I’ll admit that I felt like there was a bit too much punching down at the anime fandom in the first volume of My Lovesick Life as a ‘90s Otaku. However, I had to keep reminding myself that this was the way things were. Having Megumi constantly beat herself up over her love of anime is something that I sometimes had to do myself in order to fit in. (Thankfully, things took a turn for the better during the turn of the century, when anime on American TV hit its first sweet spot for the mainstream world.)

Hence why I have to applaud Nicholson’s storytelling here, as it does a great job of focusing on the mentality of anime fans. Hiding this passion was easier said than done, but it results in a bit of loneliness. That’s why things like pen pals came in handy, which Megumi has in the form of “Yui”. But what Megumi doesn’t realize is that “Yui” isn’t another girl-in-arms for anime, a fact that puts the male pen pal in a predicament that could jeopardize his friendship.

Much of the first volume of My Lovesick Life as a ‘90s Otaku is focused on Megumi doing her best to fit in. She has her troubles when it comes to Michiko, who does nothing to hide her love of anime and attempts to pull Megumi back into the nerd fold. But where the story shines is in her interactions with Kaji. Perhaps the strongest part comes in a shopping trip between the two of them, which gives the students plenty of moments to bond.

However, there’s Kaji’s issues with otaku, and it has nothing to do with a certain real-life serial killer who identified himself as part of the anime culture. Where his issues rest are in his own home, with a mother who spends her days glued to the boob tube, ignoring her children. It’s a lone image that gives readers a very good idea on why Kaji has a disdain for anime and manga, and one that certainly has plenty of potential of building towards something deeper.

Still, the question remains: how come Megumi is reflecting on all of this in the present day? Is she trying to figure out what went wrong with her marriage? Could she maybe have the urge to seek out Kaji or “Yui”? Will something from her past play into what is about to occur in her future? I’m not entirely sure, but there are many different routes this manga can take.

It’s these possibilities that make My Lovesick Life as a ‘90s Otaku an interesting read. You can tell that Nicholson puts a lot of love for anime in their series, what with the references and homages to shows past. But where this story will go — on top of Megumi’s current journey destination — remain to be seen. Could anime of today be the answer, or will her past offer a proper clue as to where she should go in her life? Whatever it may be, it’s bound to be something that’ll resonate with any anime fan reading My Lovesick Life as a ‘90s Otaku.


Promotional consideration provided by Kodansha Manga.

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The J-POP king of America, Evan has been bringing the hottest sounds of the Land of the Rising Sun to the English-speaking public since his college radio days. He's also an expert in the gaming, anime, & manga realms, never afraid to get critical when the times call for it. Born & bred in Boston, he achieved his biggest dream yet by making the big move to Tokyo, Japan in Summer 2023! For personal inquiries, contact Evan at evan@b3crew.com. For press/band inquiries, write to us at thebastards@bostonbastardbrigade.com. (Drawing by AFLM of Wicked Anime)