Note: Not Simple contains scenes that hint at intense child abuse and prostitution. If those are triggers for you, I would suggest not reading this manga. However, this review is safe to read.
Not Simple, a singular volume manga authored by Natsume Ono, weaves an intense tale of Ian’s complex life. The narrative revolves around Ian, who traverses continents to reconnect with his beloved sister and realize his dreams. However, this quest is far from straightforward, as the narrative unfolds in reverse-chronological order, starting from an event in the Prologue that suggests Ian’s death.
The simplicity of Ono’s artwork is a remarkable feature of this manga, reflecting Ian’s character: an uncomplicated individual subjected to life’s harshest trials. As aptly stated by Jim, a reporter committed to chronicling Ian’s life in a novel called “not simple,” Ian is a character with terrible luck. This intriguingly complex yet straightforward narrative is encapsulated in just 14 chapters, published between September 2004 and November 2005. The artwork is simple in this totally-not-simple story.
A shocking revelation that adds to the story’s darkness is the discovery that Ian’s sister, whom he has been seeking, is in fact his own mother. This grim twist intensifies the emotional depth of the story, adding a sense of despair and melancholy that permeates the entire narrative.
The unique reverse timeline, though making the plot somewhat challenging to navigate, presents an emotionally rich narrative that gradually unfolds Ian’s life in a poignant manner. However, this unusual storytelling style can leave readers feeling grim and reflective, especially after the full revelation of Ian’s circumstances.
Despite its narrative complexities, “Not Simple” is ideal for those seeking a swift yet emotionally stirring read. With just one volume, it’s perfect for a quick binge-read. Nonetheless, the storyline’s raw emotions and somber tones will resonate with readers long after the final page is turned.
Verdict: Bitterly Unique
Overall, I would give “Not Simple” a 7/10. The manga offers an emotionally intense, grim, and dark narrative that reflects life’s ironies. Its unconventional storytelling, coupled with a minimalistic art style, is really engaging to a reader like me; however, I must warn you, that even after reading this manga, you won’t be happy. The ending leaves you with a sense of bitterness that I haven’t been able to shake off for days.
What do you all think of this manga? Let us know your thoughts and suggest more in the comments below!