Papa Told Me is a slice of life manga, written by Nanae Haruno in 1987 and was serialized in Young You magazine and later Cocohana, both published by Shueisha. It won the Shogakukan Manga Award for Shojo (or Shoujo) in 1990.
The manga is centered around around Chise and her widowed father, a novelist by profession which means he spends most of his time at home with Chise. Chise’s mother died when she was very young, so she doesn’t remember anything about her mother and as a result she is very close with her father and loves him dearly. There is also Chise’s aunt (her father’s little sister) who works in an office and spends a good amount of time with Chise, sometimes acting as her babysitter. They also have the capable and strict Ogawa-san as their housekeeper who visits them regularly to keep the house in order.
The manga broadly contours to a slice of life theme which lends a slow pace to the whole manga, which I definitely prefer as each moment in Chise’s life is given its due attention. Chise is an elementary school student and commutes to the school by herself, as she and her father promised to foster an independent and creative household. This promise extends to other facets of their life like doing chores, shopping and activities, where Chise displays extraordinary maturity and handles these chores like a champ. Her father is not a passive participant though, as he pulls his own weight around the house and outside of it, whilst shouldering all the worries and tribulations that comes with raising a child alone.
Chise, even though, she acts mature and puts up a brave front, is still a child who loves her father and misses him a lot whenever he is not around. Also, she has her own fears, issues and tantrums just like any other child would and these moments serve to make Chise even more adorable. Chise’s aunt, her father’s younger sister, is a recurring character, who adopts the same independent streak as the father-daughter duo and strives to further her career by giving it priority over marriage which her parents don’t like. Chise’s grandparents have an orthodox mindset and they think their son can’t raise Chise alone and they are always trying to convince Chise to stay with them, instead of living with her father. Characters wise, so far, I have no complains at all and everyone fits their intended role perfectly, with a mix of characters that you love or are ambivalent towards.
As far as the art is concerned, the artist has done a great job as the expressions of the characters, their mannerisms, their style of clothing etc have refreshing diversity as well as accuracy. Since, the manga is set in the 80s-90s time period, the setting and thoughts prevalent, during that time, serves as a door to how the life was during that time. The art style is such, that there is less focus on building and surrounding and more on highlighting the relevant characters and items. All in all, you won’t be disappointed with how the manga has been drawn.
My experience with Papa Told Me has been a wonderful one, so far and if these 6 volumes were any indication, then I am pretty optimistic about rest of the volumes. Stay for the incredible characters, their dynamics and the antics of the adorable Chise.
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