REVIEW: ‘Farewell to My Alter: Nio Nakatani Short Story Collection’

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Farewell to My Alter

For manga fans, it is fun to see an artist-specific anthology book localized into English, and Farewell to My Alter delivers for both fans and newcomers to Nio Nakatani. Known for her popular yuri drama, Bloom Into You (published in English by Seven Seas Entertainment), Nakatani’s collection features a wide variety of works spanning different genres. Many highlight Nakatani’s nuanced depictions of grief. Farewell to my Alter is published in English by Yen Press, translated by Eleanor Summers, and lettered by Erin Hickman.

Farewell to My Alter contains nine different short stories, the last of which Nakatani penned exclusively for this anthology. Additionally, each story is followed by a small afterward, where Nakatani explains the piece’s origins and her thought process. It is a small, but thoughtful addition, that really adds to the book.

The title story, also Nakatani’s commercial debut as a mangaka, centers on two twins who share an extremely close bond. While there is a kiss, it isn’t meant to be titillating. This is not an incest story. It is a psychological drama centered on grief and co-dependency. In many ways, as Nakatani herself admits, its themes mirror that of Bloom Into You. It is a strong opener and easily one of the best pieces in the book.

Nakatani plays with a lot of moral grey areas in Farewell to My Alter. Many of the stories feature characters who probably aren’t the healthiest. You aren’t supposed to feel comfortable and support all their decisions. Many are adolescents still growing up and learning how to reconcile their personal feelings with reality. There are also stories featuring adult couples, as well as some fantasy and science fiction pieces. While Nakatani may be known for her yuri stories, this anthology is not solely a yuri anthology. In fact, many of the stories may have yuri undertones but aren’t centered on the romance between two women or girls, and instead, that just happens to be present.

One story, The Hero Saves the World Three Times, is Nakatani’s attempt at writing a standard fantasy manga. While interesting, compared to the other pieces, it feels less cohesive to the overall collection. However, it is neat to see her range as a mangaka. It is the only piece that Nakatani inked traditionally, and she takes her love of RPGs and still tosses in her morally grey character twists into the small number of pages.

If fans love Nakatani’s artwork in Bloom Into You, they will certainly be happy with Farewell to My Alter. Nakatani draws characters who look both true to age and realistic. The only exception would be eyes. Nakatani draws large eyes, which are filled with expression and tell so much of the story in each panel. Almost every time you turn a page, you will be immediately drawn to the characters’ eyes.

Farewell to My Alter is a solid anthology collection of mangaka Nio Nakatani’s work, which also tells a story of her career so far through thoughtful afterwards. Even the shortest pieces feel nuanced and layered, often exploring themes of coming-of-age, grief, and unrequited feelings. Both newcomers and fans of the mangaka will enjoy picking this anthology up.

Farewell to My Alter is available now wherever books are sold.

Farewell to My Alter: Nio Nakatani Short Story Collection
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TL;DR

Farewell to My Alter is a solid anthology collection of mangaka Nio Nakatani’s work, which also tells a story of her career so far through thoughtful afterwards. Even the shortest pieces feel nuanced and layered, often exploring themes of coming-of-age, grief, and unrequited feelings. Both newcomers and fans of the mangaka will enjoy picking this anthology up.