Otaku USA Magazine
My Picture Diary is Bursting with Quiet Pathos and Psychology

My Picture Diary is a work by Fujiwara Maki, the wife of the much more famous mangaka Yoshiharu Tsuge. Each page has a short description on one side of what her day was like, and illustrations showcasing the day on the other side.

The descriptions can be a few sentences to a few paragraphs. The drawings, while not as skilled and refined as Tsuge’s work, are overall well-done and get the point across. While on the one hand, the book is very simplistic with its short descriptions and its somewhat crude drawings, on the other hand, it’s an incredibly powerful book.

She wrote it with her son in mind, so he could look back on it when he was older. So she refers to Tsuge as “Daddy” in it. However, it’s written in first person, from her point of view. And while it starts out pretty ho-hum about things like going for a jog or sewing up Tsuge’s pants, it soon becomes apparent that this book is bursting with quiet pathos and psychology. It’s clear that Maki, who is talented in multiple areas and who worked as an actress before having her son, is stifled by being stuck with only the housework and childrearing. This is her one creative outlet.

Her aggravation toward Tsuge is clear. Now and then he’ll help out with household tasks or handling their son, but mostly she depicts him as distant, cold, unsteady. Sometimes she feels so trapped. But then she’ll also show Tsuge’s more vulnerable side, or how it hurts her to see him suffering with his severe mental illness. It’s clear that money is tight, and so many of the daily needs are poured on her head, without her getting help.

In My Picture Diary, Maki ends up giving a voice to countless women who feel stifled and trapped by roles pushed on them by society and/or their family. She doesn’t show things as black and white, but as the real nuances of life. It’d be fair to say the book is fairly depressing — but at the same time, it’s such a wonderful book for giving a voice to these real-world problems so authentically, forcefully and naturally, all at once. There is also an essay about her in the back written by Ryan Holmberg that gives more perspective on her, her life and her work.

Story & Art: Fujiwara Maki
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
Translator: Ryan Holmberg


Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, plus its sequel, Manga Art for Everyone, and the first-of-its-kind manga chalk book Chalk Art Manga, both illustrated by professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.