Manga Reviews Reviews

Manga Review: Ms. Itsuya Vol. 1 (2023) by Mizu Sahara

"This is a tale of my heartwarming and strange calamity..."

isn't your average substitute teacher, her teaching method can only be described as “magical”. Meet her and her unique cast of students as she teaches them lifelong lessons and helps them work through complex family issues.” (Coamix)

You Can Read Ms. Itsuya on Azuki

Presenting an excellent piece of light fantasy escapism, 's “Ms. Itsuya” thrives in a playful ambiguity that merges the fantastical with an emotionally fueled story intertwining one person's coming-of-age with another's quest to find solace through art. What transpires is an impressive addition to the catalog, which thrives in presenting smaller publishers with unique content that would otherwise only be available through limited and small press runs.

Where the manga thrives, in particular, is how its fantasy elements flow naturally into the story, creating a sense of wonder and mystique as opposed to utilizing the fantastical to create sensational content. Essentially, “Ms. Itsuya” has more in common with slice-of-life than fantasy-centric manga, with the idea of bringing drawings to life acting as an extension of the character's emotions. While this concept is not entirely new (Hana-Chan and the Shape of the World being a highlight of this approach to storytelling), the book will resonate with an older audience with the two central characters consisting of a teenager, Toki, whose sense of duty to care for his grandma has made him an old soul and a middle-aged woman, Ms. Itsuya, who struggles with her past but resonates an inspirational optimism.

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In addition, the manga navigates interactions between different generations to highlight how our humanity can bridge the gap. In a day and age, especially in the West, where it seems lines are quickly drawn, and people disconnect from others over differences like status or age, the book serves as a humbling reminder of our duty to one another. This wholesomeness won't be for everyone, especially those wanting those fantastical elements to push sensationalism over sentimentality. However, Toki's relationships, from his selflessness in caring for his grandma to his desire to help and understand Ms. Itsuya, form an endearing and admirable solid morality that grounds the story.

The visual stylings of Mizu Sahara are lush and expressive in a way that instantly draws one into the manga. Even from the first chapter, “Ms. Itusya” has exemplary panel work that explores the idea of art coming to life to interact with the environment. For example (see above), Toki breathes life into a school of fish in honor of his grandmother, who clings to the fish as a memory of her late husband, offering a beautiful sequence despite its tragic undertones. Ultimately, this is where Mizu Sahara thrives, understanding the profundity that images can hold to compliment the story and give moments for meaningful pauses where the art expresses that beyond words.

“Ms. Itsuya” is a captivating and beautifully executed manga you won't want to miss out on. Hopefully, one day the work comes to full print in English so that one can hold the art of Sahara, but until then, the book stands as one of the best on the Azuki app and worthy of a wider audience. Volume one is currently available on the Azuki app/site, and you can read the first chapter for free.

About the author

Adam Symchuk

Adam Symchuk is a Canadian born freelance writer and editor who has been writing for Asian Movie Pulse since 2018. He is currently focused on covering manga, manhwa and light novels having reviewed hundreds of titles in the past two years.

His love of film came from horror and exploitation films from Japan that he devoured in his teens. His love of comics came from falling in love with the works of Shuzo Oshimi, Junji Ito, Hideshi Hino, and Inio Asano but has expanded to a general love of the medium and all its genres.

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