Moyoco Anno is a manga artist and writer with a prolific career spanning roughly 20 years. Her work spans a number of genres from the YA fantastical Sugar Sugar Rune to the more realistic In Clothes Called Fat. From the scandalous Sakuran: Blossoms Wild to the sweet Flowers and Bees. And then, there’s Insufficient Direction.
Insufficient Direction is very much a delightful book. It tells of the relationship held between writer and artist, Moyoco Anno, and her husband, Hideaki Anno, and her journey to become an Ota Wife. In many regards, it’s tempting to compare the manga to an American sitcom about a dumb guy and his put upon wife. But where those stories often place their focus on the guy while leaving the wife to be the straight woman who doesn’t get to be fun, Anno places her focus on her own experience with the relationship. From the general sickness and work related exhaustion that every couple faces to the exasperation of dealing with a man child who is extremely obsessed with Ultraman. But unlike many works that would approach such a relationship, Anno notes that she too is, in many ways, a woman child at heart (note how she draws herself as a literal child dressing up as an adult in contrast to Hideaki’s actual adult proportions). (Alternatively, one could look at Deborah Delano’s autobiographical novel, The Things You Do, which partially details the marriage she had with Alan Moore. Much like that book, Anno opts to only briefly note that her husband is one of the major figures within the anime industry [Delano, for her part, doesn’t even mention Moore’s last name, let alone his profession. Anno, by contrast, only refers to her husband as “Director-kun”]. There is certainly mention of their work within the anime and manga industries respectively, but the focus is more on their mutual love of manga, anime, and tokusatsu shows, often quoting entire episodes at each other or spending long car rides listening to the various theme songs. This decentralization, in turn, demystifies Anno’s husband from Hideaki Anno, the creator of Neon Genesis Evangelion, to a nerdy, kinda silly guy who is way into Kamen Rider. [Evangelion only gets mentioned offhandedly in a list of cosplayers encountered for a film shoot.] By doing this, Anno can place the main focus of the reader away from the process of creating some of the great works of Anime [and, also, the never translated into English Re: Cutie Honey] and more on their relationship.) The relationship at the heart of the manga is extremely delightful, heartwarming, and quite hilarious. At a breezy 138 pages, it’s worth reading.