I was looking for a good manga to read when I stumbled upon ‘Confidential Confessions’ by Reiko Momochi. It intrigued me because it’s completely different from the mangas that I would usually read (mostly under the Shoujo/Romance genre) and the storyline is quite intense. Each volume of the manga deals with hard-hitting issues that a lot of teenagers have to face today: teen prostitution, rape, suicide, drugs, sexual harassment and others. While I may already know a lot about most of the topics that was tackled in the manga (from reading and watching TV), I still found it very educational. Some of the storyline may seem exaggerated to some people and maybe a bit biased (gender-wise) but it is a fact that these things happen in real life.
According to wikipedia, the manga has 6 volumes though I’ve only read up to volume 4. There hasn’t been any updates in mangafox on this manga for almost a year and the scanlators may have already dropped it. I’m still hoping they finish the last two volumes of the series so I get to read some more.
I summarized some of the chapters… Thanks to ‘Devious Breezes Scanlation Group’ for all the hard work. Please scanlate the last two volumes (^^,).
The Door (deals with suicide, bullying and self-mutilation)
At the beginning of the volume, we see Manatsu adding something to her collection of scabs. Yes, she collects her scabs and puts it in an album/scrapbook then label it with the date and part of her body where she got it from. She looks at her collection as if it’s the most beautiful thing. Manatsu thinks her life is boring and meaningless.
Her father left her and her mom months ago but her mom still keeps doing his father’s laundry then hangs his clothes at a place where everybody could see them so no one will find out what happened. Her mom cares only about what her dad and other people thinks. Growing up, she tried to do everything her parents told her. She never gets to play and have fun like the other kids. She studied hard and got into a good highschool. She thought that if she did all this, she would make her parents happy and he wouldn’t leave them. But that wasn’t the case… Her dad left them to be with another woman, leaving her on her mom’s custody.
When her dad left, she decided to do what SHE wants to do. She’s no longer going to obey her parents. Instead of going to Y High School (the good school), she went to F High School. She thought that since nobody at F High School knows her, she could start over and recreate herself. Unfortunately, she got sick at the beginning of highschool and missed the first three days. By the time she went to school, the other kids have already formed into groups/cliques and she was left out. She met a few kids that got left out too and tried to befriend them. But really… they can’t be called friends. Atleast, not where it matters. They go from one party to another but she still always alone and feel left out. Nobody really cared.
Once while walking, she came across a fortune-teller who told her that she would live a long life. She’ll live to be 116 years old. 116? That makes 100 more years of living. But she wasn’t sure she wanted to live that long. “Not a single fun thing happened today, or yesterday, or the day before that. I’m not even really living. It’s more like I’m just getting through each day.” Can she keep on doing this for 100 more years? While waiting for a train in the platform, she heard a girl talking on the phone commenting “What if I kill myself?”. That’s when suicide crossed her mind. But she wasn’t brave enough to jump in front of the train. And besides, it’s not like she really wanted to kill herself. She just didn’t want to live.
During cooking class, she noticed a girl with long, black hair and freckles (if not pimples) on her face. The girl was also alone in the class and didn’t belong to a group just like her. While watching her, she saw the girl deliberately cut her wrist with a knife. Blood flowed and the teacher started to tend to her wound. But instead of being afraid or in pain, the girl looked at her wound and she seemed happy. After class, Manatsu followed the girl and saw her getting bullied by a group of girls. They were extorting money from her. When she couldn’t give them any money, they used bug spray on her and her things then left. Manatsu approached and helped her out. The girl’s stuffs were soaked with bug spray so to check if her cellphone is still working, Manatsu dialled her number. While talking, she noticed the girl’s arm was full of scars. She’s into cutting. “White… The girl’s arms were as skinny as stalks of asparagus… but they had more scars than I could count.”
At home, she wondered what the scars would look like if she cut her wrist. She started to read about cutting in the internet when her phone rang. When she picked up, the person on the other end asked why the bathroom in Octopus park smelled so bad? Then the caller added, that it’s because as of right now, she’s dead. The caller hang up and Manatsu realized that it was Asparagus girl. At first, she decided to ignore her but changed her mind when she read on the internet that cutting could result to death. Manatsu went to the bathroom of the park and found Asparagus (yes, that’s what Manatsu calls her the whole series) sitting on the floor with a bottle of wine and a cut on her wrist, bleeding. She tried to wake her up and when Asparagus came to, Manatsu realized that Asparagus was no longer bleeding and that it was not blood on the floor but wine. She took Asparagus home so she could clean and sober up and that’s when she saw more scars. While in her room, Asparagus found her scab collection. Manatsu was afraid that she’ll make fun of her and she was ashamed of it but instead, Asparagus thought it was pretty and continued browsing through it. Kindred spirits?
Manatsu stopped going to the parties with her friends. “I write down whatever party they decide to throw just because I want to fill in the blank spaces in my day planner. And my cellphone is full of addresses of places I don’t want to go, and numbers of people I probably won’t ever see again. I think I’ve realized why I go to parties with those girls. It’s not because I like hanging out with them. It’s more like I don’t want to be alone.”
Asparagus asked Manatsu if she would like to try cutting. Manatsu asked her when she started it. She started with cutting fish, then parakeets, then cats (poor, poor animals), then she ran out of things to cut so she cut her arm. She thought she could stop, but couldn’t. She thought that things would be different in highschool and that she could get away from the girls who bully her but she was wrong. Before she realized it, she had cut herself all over. Manatsu asked if it hurt. It must hurt, right? I mean a paper cut already stings so much. But Asparagus said it doesn’t. For some reason, it doesn’t hurt when you use a cutter(is this true?). To better demonstrate, Asparagus cut Manatsu on her wrist with a cutter. At first, Manatsu was scared but was surprised that it didn’t hurt at all. “I got goose bumps. This was so much more exciting than e-mails or cellphone calls.”
One day, a member of a very popular rock group called Edge committed suicide. He jumped from the 14th floor of his apartment building. After his death, his fans would come to his apartment building with flowers, crying. Record sales for their album shot through the roof. Every channel was talking about him. There were news of highschool girls committing suicide the same way and they speculated that they were fans who wanted to follow Edge to his death. Manatsu thought that Edge’s death was amazing. She seriously thought that suicide was a great idea. “One person’s death affects the lives of many others. When you die suddenly, everyone takes a lot more interest in you than they ever did when you were alive. That’s right, the moment you die, your life becomes eternal. Death is not the end… It’s the beginning.”
Manatsu thought that the way Edge died made a mark. It was amazing because he CHOSE to die. She talked about how it’s weird that people can choose when to eat, sleep or go to the bathroom, but people can’t choose when to be born or when to die. Everyone will die eventually. It’s just a question of when. Wouldn’t you want to be able to control when you’re going to die? She didn’t want to just wait in fear, wondering when death would come. Asparagus asked her what she would put on her suicide note, adding that she should blame her parents for it. Asparagus giggled thinking what’ll happen after SHE (Asparagus) dies. Manatsu thought that if Asparagus commits suicide, then the girls who bully her maybe convicted of murder. “I never realized how powerful suicide is. Amazing!”
They discussed how Manatsu should commit suicide. Asparagus suggested that Manatsu should jump in front of the train. If she does, they will have to stop the train to remove her body and her mom would be charged a fine (first time I’ve heard of this). The fine discourages train suicides and would be used to cover the damages that the suicide will cause. BUT, your body will be mangled. Freezing to death on a snowy mountain? Well, if you could climb it. Overdose on sleeping pills? You’d have to take so many to actually get an overdose. Apparently, about 200 tablets (really? that many?). Jump from a building like Edge? It should be atleast 16 stories high. And make sure you’ll land on concrete. Manatsu thought about it… Asparagus suggested cutting her wrist instead. “Do it in one quick stroke. Don’t hesitate. If you’re 110 pounds, you should let one liter of blood drain from your body. Put your hand in a sink or a bathtub, so the wound won’t close up. You don’t have to take sleeping pills. You’ll lose so much blood, you’ll get anemic, and start to lose consciousness… and your temperature will start to drop… dying will be just like falling asleep.” They talked about how they want their funeral to be. Flowers instead of incense. Sing hymns instead of chants. They went to a photo shop to get their pictures taken. These would be the photos they want to use for their funeral.
On their way out of the photo shop, they saw the bullies. They tried extorting money from Manatsu too. One girl put the nozzle of the bug spray in Manatsu’s mouth and told Asparagus to start masturbating, otherwise, she’ll spray it in Manatsu’s mouth. They took a photo of Asparagus touching herself and told her that if she wants to get the pictures, she’ll need to pay them. Asparagus wished that she’d hurry up and just die.
“There are some people who say, ‘No matter how hard things are at the moment, time will pass and everything will work out just fine. There’s no need to stress.’ They tell us, ‘When you’re sad and hurt, just remember the good times you’ve had.’ But what about the people who have never had any good times in their lives? For people who have had nothing but problems, dying is much easier than living.” Manatsu thought that death might be to only thing that could save Asparagus.
When Manatsu got home, she found her mom in her room where she discovered her scab collection. I guess I don’t have to say how upset her mom was. Ofcourse, Manatsu was just as upset about everything. Her mom started nagging her and they get into a fight. Manatsu threatened to commit suicide. Instead of appeasing her, her mom challenged what she said saying that people say that all the time but they never do it. Getting more angry, Manatsu got a razor and cut her wrists “My mom’s going to have to live the rest of her life knowing that her daughter committed suicide because of her.” She lost consciousness from losing too much blood and her mom called an ambulance.
The doctor talked to Manatsu’s mom, asking her if there were ever any previous signs that Manatsu might commit suicide. He recommends for Manatsu to see a psychiatrist. As soon as Manatsu woke up at the hospital, she called Asparagus and told her all about it. She couldn’t believe that she had the courage to do it and that she didn’t die from it. Asparagus reminded her of the suicide note so she was relieved that she didn’t die after all. “The moment I decided to kill myself, all my troubles dissolved into thin air.” Asparagus told Manatsu not to do it alone again… “When you die, I’ll do it with you.”
When Manatsu was released from the hospital, Asparagus taught her how she should have used the razor to make sure it killed her. But then, Asparagus suggested that they use cyanide instead. They could get two capsules of cyanide online for $500.00. Too expensive for highschoolers. To earn the money, Asparagus took Manatsu to the red light district where they can earn some quick cash. Manatsu was adamant at first but Asparagus argued that there’s no harm in what they’re going to do. They’re going to die soon anyways. They worked as a receptionist for a club which pays $65.00 for only 2 hours. To get the cash faster, Manatsu posed as a “model” for the club wearing different outfits. Next thing they knew, they had $800.00 in cash.
While they were walking, they came across a car accident. People die by chance at anytime. Asparagus thought that it was a very boring way to die like that. And that they have to die very soon. Before they die in an accident like that. Before they become adults.
Manatsu wired the money to the cyanide seller. They didn’t really have a lot to do so they decided to have fun using the money left. Manatsu was having a lot of fun. They ate and strolled. She seemed happy. “Ah, how long has it been since I’ve really laughed–genuine belly laughs? Why do I feel so free? I almost feel like forgiving mom. Huh? Were the city and the people and the sky always this colorful? How beautiful!”
The next day, the package arrived. Asparagus was already set on doing it but Manatsu seems to be waivering. We can see this as she tries to procastinate. She suggested going to a rooftop thinking it would be more peaceful to die there. Then she starts questioning the authenticity of the cyanide capsules. Should they test it on a mouse? Should they have it checked on a pharmacy? Asparagus probably got fed up, took the capsules and put it in a bottle of juice. She then placed the bottle in a vending machine. “We should test it on a person. If it’s the real thing, then we’ll drink the rest. It doesn’t matter if we kill someone. We’re going to die anyway.”
A boy finds the bottle and picks it up. Just when the boy was about to take a sip, Manatsu slaps the bottle away from the kid. She couldn’t do it. She didn’t want to get other people mixed up in their plans. If anyone’s going to die, it should be just them. Asparagus picks up the bottle and tells Manatsu to drink it. Manatsu couldn’t do it. Asparagus told Manatsu how she didn’t really want to die. She was simply having fun pretending she’d going to kill herself. Manatsu insisted that she did want to die. “But saying you want to die and actually doing it are two different things.”
Manatsu contemplates about it. Her mom asked her to go see a psychiatrist to make her better. The exams are coming up and she needs to get good grades. She questions her mom about it. Is getting good grades that important? Would that make her happy? She wonders if her mom is even happy with her life. “That day I slit my wrist, right in front of my mom, I wanted her to suffer for the rest of her life. Because the thing she worries about most is how she looks in the eyes of society. So Asparagus and I plotted the best way to commit suicide. What would have the greatest effect?” “When I look at the adults in this world, I realize that the future holds nothing but despair. There’s no reason to keep on living. That’s right. What am I waiting for?” She thought of Asparagus.
She and Asparagus went to a rooftop. Manatsu thought that Asparagus went ahead and committed suicide without her. Asparagus thought that dying alone was lonely too. Manatsu noticed that Asparagus has some wounds but these weren’t self-inflicted. Manatsu told her that she thought it would be great if she was the one to save Asparagus from the girls. But it was impossible. Manatsu said that if they die, things will change. And there are some things that will never change unless they die. Asparagus told her how sometimes, she hears voices telling her that it’s ok to die. She asks Manatsu if she hears it too. Asparagus took out a cutter and was about to slit her wrist when Manatsu stopped her saying that she will go first. “If I’m going to kill myself, it has to be today. I have this feeling that if I don’t do it today, I won’t be able to do it for the rest of my life”. They had their photos with them with a note to use them for their funeral. Just when Manatsu was about to kill herself, a gust of wind blew Asparagus’ photo into the edge of the rooftop. Manatsu tried to retrieve it. And when she did, she found herself hanging for dear life in the rooftop. She didn’t want to die that way so she asked Asparagus to help her up. But she wouldn’t. Instead of slitting their wrists, she suggested simply jumping off the rooftop. Together. Asparagus positions herself at the top of the railing, ready to jump. Manatsu’s hands are starting to slip, she yells for Asparagus to stop. And finally, she admitted it. She didn’t want to die. She started yelling for help. And just when Asparagus was about jump, a bunch of men stopped her and helped Manatsu up. They were both alive.
After what happened at the rooftop, Manatsu’s mom stopped hanging out her dad’s laundry. One day she received a call. There’s going to be a funeral for Tanaka. Tanaka? Who’s that? It’s Asparagus. Asparagus cut her wrist in the bathroom. There was no suicide note. It was one clean cut. There was no hesitation. At the funeral, they used the wrong picture. There was chanting and incense. Asparagus didn’t want those. The people who gave eulogies in the funeral couldn’t even get Asparagus’ name right. There were a lot of empty seat. The people weren’t even paying attention. Most were busy with their cellphones. Ofcourse, it wasn’t in the newspaper. Everything was completely different from what they imagined… The bullies even went to pay their respects (if you could call it that). Manatsu started to accuse them saying that Asparagus committed suicide because of them. She called them murderers. But the bullies acted innocent. She kept accusing them but it all fell on deaf ears. The bullies told her that what they did was not enough reason for Asparagus to kill herself. None of the others believed what she said. “This hasn’t gotten through any of them. Even though you committed suicide… They’re just walking away laughing. When they heard about the suicide, they probably thought about it for a second, but that’s it. They’re just going to go on with their lives like nothing happened.”
Manatsu was distraught. She can’t believe that everything turned out the way it did. “Suicide is worthless. It doesn’t leave anything behind. It doesn’t change anything!” “Suicide is just one person escaping from this world, without even getting back at the people who made her kill herself in the first place.”
At home, Manatsu’s mom told her that she and her dad decided on officially getting a divorced. Manatsu was trying to find a meaning to life. Right now, she seemed empty. Who better to ask than your mother, right? Her mom asked her to think back to when she was accepted to Y High School and remember what it was that she wanted to do. She wanted to have friends (even just one) and get into some clubs. She wanted to do a lot of things. Her mom encouraged her to try again. One more time. Because she wanted her to live…
And with that, Manatsu decided that she’ll take it slow and just take it one day at a time…
The topic is pretty heavy. Suicide. Japan has one of the highest rate of suicides in the world and it has become a significant national problem to them so I guess that’s one of the reasons the mangaka decided to write about it.
I think the characters are very relatable in terms of what they have to go through everyday. The desire to belong. Getting bullied. Being surrounded by people but still feeling lonely. The mangaka effectively showed what could drive a person to commit suicide.
Asparagus is obviously a disturbed girl but I don’t think she really had the nerve to commit suicide before she met Manatsu. If she did, she would’ve done it long ago. Suicide was Manatsu’s idea. It was her who convinced Asparagus that suicide is “amazing” and that things would change for the better if they did it. She led Asparagus to that path and then left her hanging just like that… I find that scene when Asparagus placed the bottle of juice with cyanide at the vending machine to test it out very disturbing. I don’t know how serious she was about it or maybe she was just testing Manatsu’s resolve but I just can’t imagine what was going through her head… What I don’t understand is why people didn’t do anything about it after their little stunt at the rooftop. People should’ve gotten help for her. Surely they would’ve realized that if she was serious enough to jump off a building, she’ll find another way to kill herself again. Where were her guardians? The manga never mentioned her parents or guardians at all. Nobody was responsible enough to do anything. The same goes for Manatsu. She knew what Asparagus was capable of. She knew what she was thinking. But she didn’t do anything about it. I understand that she may have been too wrapped up with herself to think about Asparagus at the time but she could’ve told someone about it. I think Manatsu is just as guilty of Asparagus’ death as those bullies…
I could relate to Manatsu more. Most of the time, I felt left out too. She tried to get along with people, to please everyone and to find a place where she belonged. But she never really did.
I’ve been teased a lot since I was a kid, all the way through college. Not just by classmates, teachers or strangers but also by the people who matters such as friends and relatives, which actually felt worse. It wasn’t as bad as what those girls did to Asparagus. They didn’t physically hurt me. It was their words that hurt. I would put a mask on and pretend that everything’s ok. That it doesn’t bother me at all, even if it did. It hurt. But all I could do is cry myself to sleep. I always felt left out just like Manatsu did. Even when I was among friends. Eventually I just got used to it. I’m just glad I met Jay when I did. Meeting him and falling in love made college and my life in general, a whole lot better.
I wasn’t really depressed to the point of being suicidal and my life wasn’t half as bad as Asparagus’ or Manatsu’s was but I can’t say that suicide has never crossed my mind when I was young. I remember holding a blade to my wrist and thinking just how quick I could end everything. Ofcourse, I wasn’t really serious and I’m too much of a wuss to actually go through with it and I have very low tolerance for pain so just thinking about hurting myself scares me. But the point is that I DID think about it. How it would feel like. How it would affect everyone. Would people even care? Who would cry for me? I thought about blaming it on people who did me wrong. But like the manga said, wanting to die and actually doing it are two different things. Sometimes I wonder if other people ever experienced this too.
I like what the mangaka did in the end, showing how stupid suicide really is and that nothing good will ever come out of it. Because really, all it does is show people that you lost your battle in life… That you surrendered. It just makes you a loser even more…