Insufficient Direction Review
Reviewed by: Linny
Synopsis: Insufficient Direction is written by Moyoco Anno, a famous mangaka in her own right who also happens to be married to none other than famous director, Hideki Anno. In this graphic novel, she writes of the ups and downs of dating and living with an otaku and how she comes to embrace and fall into the very otaku habits and lifestyle she disapproved of when she first began dating Hideki, and in the process, reveals some very quirky sides to his personality and living habits that his fans might have never found out otherwise.
Review (Warning: Spoilers to Follow):
Insufficient Direction is a collection of short snippets into the daily lives of Hideki and Moyoco as they face the challenges of adult life and relationships together. While Moyoco is initially determined to have as normal a life as possible, Hideki is more than happy to revel in his otaku lifestyle. It’s rather hilarious to see this grown man act in ways that defy his age and appearance and that in turn offers a rather human look at a person who has a fandom that worships him to a god-like degree.
Moyoco refers to Hideki as Director and refers to herself as Rompers in the book, drawn as a toddler like character,lending an even more comedic aura to the proceedings in the book. As someone who isn’t a big fan of Hideki Anno (I have nothing against him, I am just not one of those fans who revere him), and also someone who hasn’t read a lot of Moyoco’s works either, I went into this book somewhat blind and yet was able to enjoy every page of it. For anyone who has dated, or knows or is themselves somewhat of an otaku, the book paints a pretty funny picture, making fun of the quirks that come with such a personality, but never in an offensive manner.
Even though this book is all about this couple who are celebrities in the manga and anime world, it deals with issues that might ring a bell with even us commoners such as how to display or deal with all the dvds, books and figures that pile up for those of us who collect them. Or the embarrassment of an anime theme song blasting out at the wrong moment and wrong place, in their case, from their car stereo as they leave a fancy spa..in our cases, maybe a phone ringtone while in the company of people who wouldn’t appreciate it or even ridicule it. For those who assume the book might have a lot of mushy romantic content, it honestly does not contain any, choosing to focus on the more hilarious snippets even when talking about their wedding planning and arrangements.
The book starts off with Rompers/ Moyoco trying to do the mature adult act, and trying to curb and control Director’s more childish or otaku habits such as his alarmingly low level of hygiene or his unhealthy eating habits, even joking that she is worried he will want to cosplay as Kamen Rider at their wedding. But as the book continues, we soon see that instead of her desired result, it is actually her who is getting converted to the otaku lifestyle, as she passionately belts out anime theme songs with her husband and spouts dialogue from classic shows. She even reveals that despite her complete disdain at Director’s reluctance to take regular showers or even wash his hands regularly, she herself soon finds herself indulging in habits that make him lecture her to take a shower herself.
Despite the juvenile look of her characters, Moyoco does a great job of making them expressive, conveying every emotion and expression through to the reader with ease. Ever so often, she changes up the chibi like style and uses a more sombre style to depict a famous personality from the fictional or real anime world, but overall the book maintains an air of silliness. The juvenile look also makes the characters come off as adorable and endearing and chances are you might find yourself very attached to these ‘chibi-fied’ versions. The art style and the comedy in the book makes it approachable even to people completely unaware or new to the anime world, as the book offers footnotes and annotations that give you an insight into the characters and topics mentioned in the stories. Even older western anime fans might learn of some of the more classical aspects and elements of anime through this book.
Insufficient Direction is a short read, offering roughly 138 pages of comics with another 30-ish pages of annotations and an afterward by Hideki Anno himself where he paints an honest and somewhat harsh description with his words of what an otaku is. Despite that harsh description, it’s clear that this book is a tribute to the world of otakus and a labour of love that should amuse all readers. If you have some time to spare, and regardless of your actual or lack of familiarity or feelings towards the cast of the book, Insufficient Direction is a must read if you love amusing tales of couples that focuses on the hilarious misadventures they go through with none of the mushy stuff one would expect in a story all about a couple.