Home > Manga Reviews, Reviews > Complex Age, Vol. 1

Complex Age, Vol. 1

ComplexAge1Complex Age, Vol. 1
by Yui Sakuma
Kodansha Comics, 208 pgs
Rating: Older Teen (16 +)

Meet Nagisa Kataura. To most she’s a typical office worker, but her close friends know another side of her, that of a dedicated cosplayer! For years she’s kept these two worlds separate from each other, keeping her cosplay life away from her family life and work life, but time and age seem to be conspiring to force her to choose between her two lives. From Yui Sakuma comes the award winning Complex Age, Vol. 1!

In Complex Age, Vol. 1 Yui Sakuma crafts an engaging story focused on the life of Nagisa Kataura, a long term and hardcore cosplayer, and how her hobby affects her life and her social interactions. The amount of time and effort she puts into her cosplay hobby is on full display, as is the toll it takes on her day to day life. She stays up all night to add a single design element to an outfit, is worn out and sleepy at work, spends nearly all her money on materials and lives with her parents, keeping all of her cosplay gear stowed away and hidden from sight. She’s keenly aware of how the rest of society views cosplayers and is also becoming aware of how her age sets her apart from the cosplay scene itself, something dominated by younger women and teenage girls. This is something that’s bound to strike a chord with older readers, that societal pressure of being an adult and deeply invested in something that society considers for children.

A page from Complex Age, Vol. 1

The more you know!

One of the really fun things about Complex Age, Vol. 1, beyond the fantastic premise and themes, is the fact that Yui Sakuma created an entire fictional magical girl series for the main characters to obsess and cosplay as. In the back of the book are several pages of extras featuring concept art for the fictional magical girl series along with little story, plot and character summaries. The costumes are lovely and frilly and lacy, exactly what you’d expect from a magical girl series, and I was left wondering if there are any fans in Japan cosplaying these characters. I half expect to hear about Yui Sakuma doing a spin off series based on this magical girl series she created for Nagisa to obsess over.

Also included is the one-shot “pilot” manga for the series. While it does have a similar theme and concept, the characters and their situations are different enough to make it a nice extra. Hopefully the ending of the main series won’t be as depressing as the pilot’s conclusion.

Complex Age is off to a strong start. A series examining ones hobbies, their importance, the way society at large may view them and what it’s like to be aging and into something that’s traditionally considered a young persons game. Despite not being into cosplay myself, the central theme of being into something that most people consider the domain of the younger generation resonated and the insecurity and self doubt Nagisa displayed is bound to strike a chord in anyone over the age of 24 with a niche hobby or interest. This continues the trend of Kodansha Comics cranking out some really engaging material aimed a slightly older audience.

Complex Age, Vol. 1 is available now from Kodansha Comics. Review copy provided by the publisher.

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