Review: Insufficient Direction


Obtuse but relatable manga about Moyoco Anno's marriage

Being an otaku isn't easy. But when you've fallen in love with someone who's king of the otaku? Well, that means you've got a long way to go to up your nerd game.

That's the struggle Rompers faces in Moyoco Anno's autobiographical manga, detailing the adventures she has in living with and marrying Hideaki Anno -- one of Japan's biggest otaku. They struggle with everything from the music in the car to decorating their house. Will Rompers survive the struggles of being a true otaku?

If you're a fan of any of Moyoco Anno's other works (Sakuran, Hataraki Man, Sugar Sugar Rune), then Insufficient Direction will provide a peek behind the curtain and see what her private life is like.

Insufficient Direction
Creator: Moyoco Anno
Publisher: Vertical, Inc.
MSRP: $14.95

Insufficient Direction is an autobiographical novel of Moyoco and Hideaki Anno's relationship, leading up to their wedding. If you're not familiar with them, Moyoco Anno (Rompers in Insufficient Direction) is the manga artist behind Hataraki Man, Sakuran, and Sugar Sugar Rune; Hideaki Anno (Director-kun in Insufficient Direction) is the co-founder of Gainax and director of Evangelion, Gunbuster, and Kare Kano.

They're as close to a celebrity couple as you can get in the otaku universe.

The manga is split into short chapters detailing little incidents in their life, putting this title squarely in the slice of life genre. If you've ever moved in with someone, the struggles will look familiar. Picking out furniture and organizing the flow of rooms can be difficult, but when you've got to take into account displaying all the Kamen Rider figures, that changes plans.

While there isn't a concrete "plot" to this title, there is an overarching narrative of Rompers learning what it means to truly be an otaku. Being a manga artist, Rompers always considered herself nerdy, but after meeting Director-kun, she saw that the summit of otakudom sat far off in the distance. Her journey is a hard one, as she wants to get closer to her husband, but doesn't necessarily want to adopt all of the deplorable habits some otaku have.

Since Director-kun is an otaku from an older generation, a lot of the references that appear in Insufficient Direction don't necessarily cross over to US fans. They reference a number of shows that never came over, or only circulated on VHS tapes back in the day. And there's a lot of Kamen Rider. Thankfully Ed Chavez and Yasuhiro Kamimura -- the faces of Vertical -- provide extensive annotated notes, giving the reader a crash course in every reference. Most liner notes provide a sentence or so explaining the reference, while Vertical's notes give you a paragraph or more on everything. It's exhaustingly extensive, and I really have to give them credit for that. Without it, this book would be inaccessible.

If flipping back and forth between liner notes and the story doesn't dissuade you, then you'll get a window into the couple's private life that's cute and endearing. As I said before, if you've lived with someone before -- whether a roommate or a lover -- who shares the same passions as you, then you'll feel some kinship with Rompers as you read this. The story works and is an enjoyable read throughout, but it goes by a little fast. By the end, you're left wanting for another volume, but at least the time you spent with Insufficient Direction was a good one.

7.0 – Good. A decent story, well-drawn, capable of immersing you but lacking in some aspects. Fans of the genre may love it, while others might simply enjoy it and move on.


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Insufficient Direction reviewed by Brad Rice



Solid and definitely has an audience. There could be some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.
How we score:  The Japanator reviews guide


Brad Rice
Brad RiceFounder   gamer profile

Brad helped found in 2006, and currently serves as an Associate He's covered all aspects of the industry, but has a particular preference for the business-end of things, more + disclosures



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