Mami is 36 and unmarried, and the entire world seems to be telling her she must be miserable. But is she? Does she really need a ring on her finger to be happy when she has a job she loves and friends who support her? A collection of interconnected stories that explores the hazards and joys of unmarried life through the eyes of three single ladies.
Will I Be Single Forever? is a josei manga by Mari Okazaki based on an essay by Mami Amamiya.
I could rant endlessly about things like Okazaki’s expressive art and the beautiful and evocative visual metaphors. However, I want to focus on what impacted the most: the central message and how the story chooses to convey it.
The truth is, Will I be Single Forever? is not really interested in answering that. “Does it really matter if you’re single?” would be a far more relevant question here.
Will I be Single Forever? follows three different women with stable jobs. It even makes sure to point out that they’re pretty well off; we know for sure that at least two live comfortably out of their own income. The three women are also very good friends; we even see one having good relationships with her co-workers. It could be said that the only notable thing “lacking” in their lives is romance.
Still, these women aren’t looking for someone just for the sake of romance. There’s emphasis in their anxieties towards what they perceive as an uncertain future. They fear things like loneliness and lack of social support for single childless women, which they might have to face once they’re old and no longer able to work.
That, combined with nagging family and friends making annoying or hurtful assumptions about them based on their “failure” in their love lives adds understandable pressure on them.
However, Will I be Single Forever? wants you to understand that you have choices; you don’t have to get married just because you’re afraid. Even if those fears are understandable, you should still seek your own happiness.
I find a lot of value in how the story establishes this message. These women worry about their future, which often tempts them to settle in for just anyone because it would be “easy” and “secure.” However, they find support in their friendship with other women. For at least two of them, their fulfillment comes with doing their best to thrive in the job they love.
One of my favorite visual metaphors in the story is the use of a literal path to illustrate their decisions. It’s there when one of them makes decisions out of fear, just because “the path in front of her” was so clear. It’s there when she ends up crashing to illustrate how, although the path seemed clear, it doesn’t mean is the right one.
Getting married is not what’s important–it doesn’t have to be. Instead, Will I be Single Forever? places value on how these women are using their own strength to live the lives they want. The path appears again as a metaphor in a conversation between all three. It’s not clear which way they should go, but there’s a sense that it’s alright; they have each other to figure it out.
This title is licensed by Viz Media with 1 volume digitally available. You can find it on Viz Media’s website.
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