Friday, May 27, 2022


A month like this gives me room to talk about manga that don't really fit any theme, which itself is fitting for a manga that's all about finding room for things.

THE LIFE-CHANGING MANGA OF TIDYING UP: A MAGICAL STORY (Manga de Yomu Jinsei ga Tokimeku Katazuke no Maho), written by Marie Kondo with art by Yuko Uramoto.  First published in 2017 and first published in North America in 2017.


Chiaki is a single businesswoman who is struggling with a lot of things, including her incredibly cluttered, messy apartment.  On a chance, she discovers Marie Kondo through an online search and signs up for a tidying consultation.  Soon after the real Marie Kondo shows up at her door, ready to help Chiaki reorganize her stuff and rediscover the things that truly bring her joy.


Educational manga are always tricky to review, as I learned when dealing with Make-Up Is Not (Just) Magic.  Thankfully, this manga is a lot easier to review because it couches its lessons in a simple yet effective narrative.  Chiaki may be a bit of cliche and I feel like the story goes a little overboard on how much cleaning her apartment improves her life outside of it, but she serves as a reasonable stand-in for the sort of single young women who might Kondo's services.

Meanwhile, Marie Kondo portrays herself for the most part like a pixie-ish Mary Poppins, complete with cute little rituals scattered throughout her lessons.  If not for a section where she talks about her childhood and what motivated her to focus on organization so much, she could easily BE a magical person of some sort.  Even if Kondo's persona feels a little unreal, her advice is sensible: organize items based on function versus location, keep only the items that are useful and make you happy in the here and now, maximize the space and storage you already have.  Honestly, the most useful section is the part where she demonstrates the most space-efficient way to fold various pieces of clothing.  If it had included a part on how to properly fold fitted sheets, I would declared this essential reading.


From what I can gather, Yuko Uramoto is a josei mangaka who got her start in web manga.  She's got a cute, breezy, light-handed style that fits well with the material.  It's not terribly flashy, but it lends the narrative a lot of visual charm.  It's the spoonful of sugar that helps Kondo's lessons go down smooth.


This book was flipped, something that's quite the rarity in manga these days.  Presumably that was done to make it more accessible to audiences who were familiar or curious about Marie Kondo but not familiar with manga.  


It's up to you to determine if Marie Kondo's methods work, but the presentation of them in Tidying Up couldn't be better.  It's light-hearted, engaging, and attractive, but never in a way that distracts from the lessons.

This book is published by Ten Speed Press.  It is currently in print.

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