Atashi wa Sore wo Gaman Dekinai

Mangaka: Enjouji Maki
Reviewed on Jan 5, 2011

On the chopping block is a series of short 'romance' stories that go from rage-inducing to objectionable to mediocre. Get ready for abuse, kidnapping, confinement, unhealthy obsession and emotional manipulation— and no, this isn't a horror-thriller.

There really is no better way to start this review than with this picture:

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. First, an overview. Atashi wa Sore wo Gaman Dekinai (roughly meaning "I can't take it anymore", which is what I yell out in anguish when I have to read the next chapter of this) is an anthology of stories written for women (josei) past their teens. And like most josei, it involves, well, older women in relatively realistic and less melodramatic stories than shoujo. This doesn't mean it doesn't have its amount of eye-roll inducing melodrama, though. There's just less of it because older women have more sense and are more cynical. Presumably.

By now you might be wondering "what's with the picture at the beginning of the article?" If not, may I ask you to scroll upwards a bit, and then come back to this line. Done? Okay. That, dear reader, artfully describes my reaction to this manga.

Spoilers, ahoy.

The first story in this anthology is perhaps going to make a lot of women angry. Not just feminists, either. It tells of a woman in an affair with a man who loves nothing more than to cause her emotional suffering. She whines, gets beautifully called on it, and...well, I didn't want to spoil the rest, but it's predictable enough, I think. It's the ending that slays me, though. Even after the emotional and verbal abuse, the manipulation, and the incredible lack of repentance on his part, she ends up with him. Yes, she ends up with this jerk she used to whine about. The jerk who just likes to play with her. Why, after all that whining and then leaving him for several reasons does she go back to him anyway? Some people would enthusiastically answer "It's love!" I say it's stupidity. And this isn't even the worst of the stories in Atashi wa Sore wo Gaman Dekinai.

The worst is the second story. It doesn't wait to be creepy, and begins with a guy being unnaturally caring towards a woman who wakes up with amnesia. You (and the heroine) are thinking that he must either be a relative, a close friend, a boyfriend or the guilty guy who caused her amnesia, right? Hahahaha. The ending has to be read to be believed. It has drugging, abduction, manipulation, and passive-aggressive behavior all wrapped up in a 'happy' story wherein love makes all the bad things mentioned okay. Dear lord.

I would have liked the story if it was intentionally and obviously darker, instead of taking those actions lightly, as if they were sweet instead of creepy, dangerous, and deserving of a restraining order. Instead the heroine only gets angry because the guy lied. So the guy apologizes and cries over what he did, and that automatically redeems him of his mistakes. In real life, his actions in that last scene would be filed under 'passive-aggressive manipulation', and a judge would have done more than issue a restraining order.

Compared to the first two stories, the others are less aggravating. There's a bit of manipulation here and there, but nothing glaringly obvious or creepy, and points to reasonably flawed characters rather than creepy ones. In fact, anything after the first two stories is okay, so if you really want to read this, I recommend reading anything but those first two stories. That or avoid this manga at all costs.

Now, I may have gotten ahead of myself. The manga seems to have a theme: all stories in this anthology feature manipulative bastards as the male leads. Maybe it was meant to be an anthology of dark stories that left a bad taste in your mouth, the same way as tragedies. But the problem here is that it doesn't seem that way. Perhaps it's the art style, the dialogue, the reaction of the females or the "sweet" endings, but it certainly feels like these stories want to be endearing rather than dark. Whether the writer intended it to be like that or just made some mistakes in composition, it still comes out the same. It still fails either way. I guess it's just your choice which possibility you want to believe. All the same, I wouldn't recommend this.

Be careful of those stalkers, and 'till next time.

© Yves Macatangay Jan 2011 Some Rights Reserved.

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