Lovefool 01.09.12 | Owning It

Lovefool sez if you’re gonna be crazy, you’ve gotta own that craziness, just like the kissin’ cousins of Ken Saito’s The Name of the Flower.


So I didn’t even make it a week, nerdlings. It’s Monday at 1:51 in the afternoon and the day after my birthday, which I think absolutely counts as a mitigating circumstance despite the fact that my birthday was observed on Saturday and yesterday was, ahem, a recovery day. A serious recovery day. It was pretty much all I could do to sprawl on soft, flat surfaces and occasionally lift the damp cloth to respond to Facebook posts about how awesome I am. And the one from my archrival about using his special brand of crazy to get his column in on time, which I might have actually not responded to because it made me feel guilty since my special brand of crazy just lands me at taco trucks at 2:15 in the morning while my friend orders for me because I’m too baffled by the five item menu and isn’t good for anything even remotely useful. So, sorry, Hollerbach! He also had a decent suggestion for another column that sounds fun but we’ll have to come back to that sometime soon. So I might be, lame, networking with my archrival! But he’s better at this than I am so I might have to suck it up.
Also, I’m older now and the goal for this year is to get better at being a grownup, basically, which absolutely means I have to develop some other habits. Still, I’m always envious of people who manage to mix in some good crazy with their bad crazy, which is something I’ve actually been thinking about since I finally scored the last volume of Ken Saito’s The Name of the Flower. This is not the first time you’ve heard the name since his crazy hero made my list of hottie aloof dudes but I didn’t how the series ended because Mr. Saito got tangled up in that whole CMX debacle and his manga was pretty understocked everywhere, anyway, and I never came across the last volume and apparently forgot how the internet worked? Eventually, I snapped out of it and realized that, lo and behold, I could go to Amazon and buy the last volume instead of staring at that hole in my collection and frowning.
It’s a terrifying and appealing story and a great example of exactly what I’m talking about—there is so much crazy going on in this book from everyone involved. Kei is a crazy novelist who is in the habit of locking himself in his room for days on end while he’s writing and Chouko is his orphaned distant cousin and young ward (to be fair, they didn’t meet until Chouko was 16) and, yeah, there’s some sketchiness there, but you know what? They own that shit. At one point in the last volume, a concerned mutual friend of theirs tells her that Kei is completely crazy and that she’ll end up going down with him and she later states that she’s perfectly okay with that and they’ll go down together.
I’m not making that up. It might even be a direct quote. Chouko, when both Kei and we meet her, also suffers from trauma-related aphasia due to the death of her parents but, prodded into action (if not words, not quite yet) by Kei, she channels all of her energy into a beautiful garden for him to keep when she goes somewhere. She never quite manages the going somewhere and ends up prone to staring depressions that can last days. (I wish I could be more prone to quiet, staring depression instead of cutting swathes of self-destruction across my life when I feel like that.) Kei disappears for eons at a time to write a book about a man who finds hope because of a beautiful young girl while Chouko finds her words, and a few friends, and the garden riots around them. Kei’s friends, Iori and Shin, who later becomes his editor, both ended up splitting away from Kei because he’s completely mad and they know to get when the getting is good. They, of course, reappear at later points with different relationships and strange motives. But Chouko, warned off by everyone around her, hangs in there. She, and her flowers, both came to life in Kei’s mad house and there they’ll stay.
Kei, naturally, bends a little, becomes a little less completely insane but, frankly, not much less. He writes beautiful tales with sad endings and, while I hope for the best, I’d be interested to see if he and Chouko could manage to actually make a relationship that bloomed out of their circumstances. Chouko, of course, seems healthier than Kei because she at least knows what’s going on and doesn’t alternate between “Go away, Chouko, be happier and healthier somewhere else, OMG, get out.” and scaring off potential dates. No, this is a pretty messed up little love story, which means that I was completely enthralled by it.
So I guess the moral of the story is to own your tiny madnesses, if you’re a comics columnist or mad writer or young girl in love with your lunatic older (distant, very distant) cousin. Sometimes it might take you somewhere nice. Sometimes, of course, it might not, but surely it would take you somewhere interesting? | Erin Jameson

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