Tidying Up guru Marie Kondo explains how she discovered manga
Marie Kondo took the world by storm with her runaway best-selling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, which famously advises messy, disorganized mortals like us to keep only those of our possessions that “spark joy.”
Kondo’s philosophy has spawned plenty of copycats (and parodies), but no one has taken the idea to the new length Kondo has: The author has turned her iconic work into a new manga comic, The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up, which features a cartoon Kondo helping her client get her apartment, and thus, her life, in order.
Below, EW can exclusively share an essay from Kondo about discovering manga, and how she bonded over it with her father. And beneath that, get a sneak peek inside The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up before it hits shelves on June 27.
On Manga, by Marie Kondo
When I was in elementary school, I visited my grandparents in the countryside of Miyazaki Prefecture and found my father’s childhood manga collection in a corner of their home.
Lined up on the shelf were graphic novels of all kinds: manga related to sports, and fighting, and comics — all of which were bestsellers in their day. I was surprised to find that this collection belonged to my father, whom I always regarded as a quiet and serious person growing up. I never knew that, like many children in Japan, my father was once a boy who loved reading manga.
When I showed him the collection, my father began taking out his manga from the shelf one by one and laughing like a little boy as he flipped through the pages.
I asked him, “Which manga is the most precious to you?” As he scanned the collection that consisted of well over 200 books, his face grew slightly serious. Yet, only a few seconds later, my father picked out Black Jack by Osamu Tezuka.
Black Jack is one of the author’s signature works. In it, the namesake main character, who is a prolific surgeon, contemplates whether it is a doctor’s duty to prolong a patient’s life or to prioritize quality of life during extended treatment. The author is widely regarded as “The God of Manga” and one of the principal influencers of Japanese manga culture post-World War Ⅱ. By examining the difficult line between life and death, Tezuka’s manga transcends a simple medical recovery story and manages to depict the preciousness of life.
The themes of Black Jack led many readers to choose the medical field. My father, who read the manga during high school, also became a doctor. Japanese readers learn many important lessons in life from manga. Even I, who spent more of my childhood tidying than reading manga, have been deeply influenced by manga culture.
My older brother and younger sister both loved manga, and living in a home where we always had the latest editions of popular series, there were many temptations.
I would be picking up copies of their manga that they left around the living room angrily saying, “Don’t be messy!” only to find myself opening up a book out of curiosity. Before I knew it, I would end up reading till it was dinner time. (Just between you and me, this happened more than once or twice.) Looking back, I feel fortunate to have stumbled upon my siblings’ manga and to have read many masterpieces including One Piece and Naruto.
After encountering my father’s collection at my grandparents’ house, my father recommended that I read Black Jack myself. It prompted me to reflect on what constitutes the ‘dignity of life.’ Additionally, through talking to my father about this manga, I was able to hear stories from his days as a medical student and deepen my understanding of how my father thought about his work.
Manga is not only entertainment. It is also a guide on life and a way for parents and children to bond across generations. This Sunday is Father’s Day, and I’m thinking about talking to my father about manga again, something we haven’t done in a while.
My new book The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up: A Magical Story will be in stores June 27! Click here to pre-order.
Excerpts from The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
Reprinted from The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up Copyright © 2017 by Marie Kondo. Illustrations copyright © 2017 by Yuko Uramoto. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.