My Broken Mariko: A Short Manga Review, Analysis, And Recommendations

About My Broken Mariko

my broken mariko cover mangadigest

My Broken Mariko is a manga created by Hirako Waka that was first published in 2019 by Kadokawa Japan and then in 2020 by Yen Press for the English version. 

Surprisingly, this is Hirako Waka’s first full-length manga series. And judging by the quality of this debut, we can certainly expect more great things from the author in the future. 

The manga itself is a raw and powerful depiction of friendship, grief, and suicide. So be prepared before you read it because the story would pull your heart in and break it into tiny pieces. 

And based on Hirako Waka’s interviews on AnimeNewsNetwork and ComicBeats, it was very emotionally taxing for her to write this manga as well. She explained that her mother was also a victim of abuse in the past. Growing up, she noticed firsthand the kind of struggle that her mother had to go through. 

She took a lot of those experiences and mixed them up with her own imagination in order to brew up this heart-wrenching story. That’s why although it was not an autobiographical manga, there is still a lot of Hirako Waka’s self imbued within its pages. 

The Story of My Broken Mariko

Tomoyo Shiino was eating a bowl of ramen in a packed restaurant when she heard the news about a 26-year old woman who fell to her death from a 4-stories apartment after consuming a large number of sleeping pills. 

It was Mariko Ikagawa. Her one and only best friend in the world. They met in middle school and have been inseparable ever since. Shiino with her carefree attitude and Mariko with her broken world.

She goes home feeling numb that night. They just met last week and everything seemed fine. There were no bruises or blood on her face or her limbs or her body. Unlike their previous meeting, Mariko truly looked alright last week. So what happened?

There is a cocktail of unpleasant feelings swirling within Shiino’s heart. She doesn’t know what to feel and what to think. What should she do now? Would there even be a wake for Mariko? No, that couldn’t be. They don’t have any other friends besides each other. And her parents, the ones who ruined her world in the first place, they don’t even deserve to mourn for her. 

Ah, that’s right, there are her remains. The ashes should be with her parents now. 

Right there and then, Shiino decided to steal Mariko’s remains from her parents and take her to the one place that they’ve always wanted to visit together. The sea. 

Review of My Broken Mariko

Other than the raw and powerful emotions that would still linger long after you close the book, one of the main attractions of this story, at least for me, is the structure. 

The story is told in two different timelines that run at a different pace. The first one is set in the present where we follow Shiino’s journey of grief and guilt. This part of the story runs pretty much in real-time. Hours by hours, moments by moments.

The other took place in the past, from the time they both met each other in middle school, till one of their latest meetings as adults. This part of the story jumps around from one scene to the next. It’s like the fragments of Shiino’s fondest and most prominent memories of their times together. 

These two timelines were carefully placed so that both stories could intertwine to form one cohesive image of a very beautiful relationship between the main characters. The result is a character-driven story that is both pure and unapologetic. It is brimming with feelings and emotions.

One more thing, although it touches on a very sensitive topic, it never tries to preach, it merely depicts. That’s what makes it so relatable even if you have never been in the same situation before.

And it also has a very fitting end. I won’t spoil it here but I know not everybody would find it satisfying. Because it’s not. Nothing is satisfying about this topic and the ending perfectly reflects that. It’s just helplessness and the sense of having to move on. That’s all there is to it.

The Art of My Broken Mariko

My broken mariko art review mangadigest

Hirako Waka explained in the interview that she decided to use thin lines and soft shades in order to depict the overall feeling of the story. And no matter how you look at it, she succeeded. 

There’s a raw feeling oozing out of every panel in the manga. Every gesture and expression look soft and yet felt so heavy at the same time. Every pose and movement felt dynamic and natural. Every panel felt alive.

And talking about panels, Hirako Waka used her panels just like frames in the movie. Every small panel is a cut, an edit, while every big panel is a scene. She also drew her characters from multiple angles to amplify what she was trying to depict at that moment. 

And between those deep and delicate scenes, she also mixed up some awkward and comedic moments. Although it was far and between, the immaculate placement of those light moments works wonders as a way to vary the pace and emotion of the story.

As mentioned before, the story moves back and forth between the past and the present. And so does the art style. The past looked clear and well-defined while the present looked somewhat messy and blurry. 

There is no clear divider between the present and the past and they are even juxtaposed in the same panel at some point. Yet the presentation would always be the first one that makes it clear to the readers about which is which.

Considering this is her first full-length manga, Hirako Waka did a wonderful, and dare I say masterful job in finding the best way to convey the core of the story to the readers. All we have to do is surrender our focus and enjoy the ride.

Where to buy My Broken Mariko

You could get a copy of My Broken Mariko from any place you usually get your manga. It was published in late 2020, so I reckon the stocks would be available almost everywhere. Both online shops and brick-and-mortar bookstores should have a copy of this manga.

For online shoppers, I recommend Amazon and RightStuffAnime. Amazon for the speed of their delivery and RightStuffAnime for their price and services. The physical book is now available in a hardcover format so you should get them while you can. Here’s the link for My Broken Mariko in Amazon and RightStuffAnime.

If you prefer the digital format, then I suggest checking the Amazon Kindle and Comixology. The price is obviously lower in this format and you could read it on your phone, tablet, and computer. Here’s the link for the Kindle and the Comixology version.

Those and the links below are my affiliate links, which means I’ll get a commission whenever you buy this manga through those links at no additional cost to you.

Manga similar to My Broken Mariko

1. Solanin by Inio Asano

solanin cover mangadigest

Solanin is a story of Meiko Inoue, a woman who feels dissatisfied with her ordinary life and finally decided to quit her day job. With a future that is full of uncertainties, Meiko and her boyfriend embark on a journey to pursue their long-postponed dream. 

Just like any other Inio Asano’s work, Solanin is brimming with great attention to mundane things and highly relatable characters. It is a sweet story of young people and their struggle for a better future. 

That is until the tragedy happens. The second part of the story is where the similarity between Solanin and My Broken Mariko will finally reveal itself. And that’s where it’ll break your heart.

Solanin was originally published in two volumes in Japan. In the US, however, you get to read this masterpiece as one big omnibus volume. 

And although the overall page count of Solanin is higher than My Broken Mariko, in terms of the reading time it would probably take around the same time to finish. Because just like My Broken Mariko, Solanin would also grab you by the neck and won’t let go until you finished it in one sitting.

To get it from Amazon, click here.

2. Haru’s Curse by Asuka Konishi

harus curse cover mangadigest

Haru was a shy girl who deeply cherished and admired her sister, Natsumi, and loved her fiance, Togo, more than she loved herself. 

That’s why Natsumi is currently in a state of utter confusion when she is forced to take her sister’s place as Togo’s lover after Haru’s sudden death.

As you can probably guess, Haru’s curse is a very emotional and heart-wrenching drama that focuses on the relationship between both siblings and lovers. And of course, just like with My Broken Mariko, it also deals with the devastating feelings of trying to cope with the loss of a loved one.

Similar to Solanin above, Haru’s curse was also originally published in Japan in two volumes but it was packaged as a one omnibus volume for the English version.

Click here for the Amazon link.

3. Not Simple by Natsume Ono

not simple cover mangadigest

Not simple tells the story of Ian, a young man who’s on a journey from Australia to the UK and finally to the USA in order to find her beloved sister. 

Ian is quite possibly one of the most miserable fictional characters that ever grace a manga. He’s been neglected, abused, and endured all kinds of hardship since he was just a little boy. And his story is a devastating one.

Natsume Ono has a unique art style that might not suit some people’s tastes. But if you could set aside your personal preference for a while and simply enjoy it, then you’ll have a good time. Well, you’ll probably have a dejected time after reading this depressing story, but it is a great read nonetheless. 

Unlike the previous two, this manga was published as a single volume both in the Japanese and English versions. But with more than 300 pages worth of content, it is still quite a dense book.

You can get Not Simple through Amazon by clicking this link.

My Broken Mariko is one of the titles that I recommend to be the first manga for new readers. To find out more about it, check out my Manga Starter Pack: 8 Best Manga for Beginners.

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