The breadth of non-fiction manga is on full display between these two very different books! The Bride was a Boy is a memoir about a trans woman’s experience falling in love and getting married. It’s also a basic primer on what being transgender is like and a good overview on the Japanese government’s policies on trans people. I know there are enormous problems in the US right now vis a vis trans rights, which terrifies me every day as a trans person, but I’m always glad we don’t share the clinic model with Japan and the UK. It gives inordinate power over the right to transition to that same clinic, especially when it’s linked to the government, and the section where Chii outlines the issues with the hoops she has to leap through to change her gender legally (compulsory therapy for a year, mandatory surgery) makes for stressful reading. The Bride was a Boy is a good starter book about trans issues but also readable and fun for people like me who know a lot. The art is a little basic but not in a distracting way.
Cat Diary is a series of short vignettes about Junji Ito’s cats Yon and Mu. Ito is best known for his horror manga and he uses that ability to invoke dread and fear to humorous effect here, as he contrasts his art with the sweet cat stories he’s telling. It’s a delight and he’s an amazing artist. Also, apparently the cover of this collector’s edition of Cat Diary is glow-in-the-dark, which I tried to test by turning off the lights, but I don’t think it was dark enough in my apartment. I’m sure when I walk by half-awake some night the glowing will scare me and fulfill its intended purpose.
Despite their differences, these are both very sweet books and they have an earnest and genuine spirit in common that makes you feel nice after reading them. I recommend both and they’re staying in my library.