Review: Not Simple – Natsume Ono

 not simple

Manga: Not Simple

Mangaka: Natsume Ono

Publisher: Ikki / Viz Media


This story follows the life experience of a young Australian, Ian, as he seeks out answers about his troublesome family life. Before leaving for America Ian meets Jim who is moving to New York to become an author. The pair become friends and Jim decides that once Ian’s search for answers finally comes to an end he will write a novel about his experiences. The entire way through the book you find yourself thinking about just how messed up this guy is, after years of living with family who don’t want him and he seeks out the sister who was always the one person he felt the closest to.


As the story begins we meet Ian’s sister, Kylie, as she is released from a short spell in prison. Kylie is introduced as being very caring for Ian and that the reason she was sent to prison was a result of her shoplifting to ensure Ian had enough food to eat. When she returns home she is surprised to find her parents home is up for sale and that her parents have separated. After a short search for her father he reveals that Ian and her mother have left Australia and are now living in England. She immediately attempts to get enough money together in order to go to England to find her brother.


In England we are finally introduced to Ian and see the situation he is living in with his mother. Ian’s mother is a heavy drinker and as a result she spends the majority of their money on alcohol. Ian is noticeably malnourished at this stage and his aunt regularly takes him out to eat and secretly gives him money to use to buy food. Once the mother decides that she still is not getting enough money he finds a way to use her son to provide her with more alcohol. Soon after Kylie arrives on the scene and organises for Ian to return to Melbourne and live with their father. She tells him not to return to find her until he has achieved his dreams.


Several years goes by with Ian living with his father you frequently vocalises his resent for him. However, he begins to take on running to a greater extent and sets his aim to beat a specific time at which point he will be able to return to Kylie. Once he finally reaches his target he knows that it is now time to go to find his sister. He talks to one of her friends to find out where she is, but the only information he is able to get is that she is somewhere in America. At this point Ian meets Jim for the first time. After hearing the story of Ian’s life Jim decides to write a novel about his life and invites him to stay with him in New York anytime. For the majority of the rest of the story we follow Ian’s saga through the eyes of Jim as he listens to Ian’s stories every time he comes to visit.


The story overall is somewhat depressing to read, but is very well written. I didn’t like the prologue at the start of the book as it gives away the ending, however, it was good see something as it happens instead of hearing Ian’s story of it. The artwork was really not too my liking. It all seems a little but rushed with very little detail put into it. I would have liked to see some better artwork to complement the story, but this is how the mangaka decided to do and I think that it actually emphasises the emotions of the characters. I would recommend Not Simple to anyone looking for an example of the serious side of manga. However, it is quite depressing and can get hard to read at point due to the themes of the story. I did enjoy reading it though, and it was good to read something so different from what I usually read.




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