Throughout 2019, I’ve managed to read and review both The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing and Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, and now I am happy to say I have read The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up: A Magical Story, and I am ready to share my thoughts on it. This also happens to be the very first time I’ve read any manga (I’m very behind on that front), but I don’t intend it to be my last.
I originally started to read Marie Kondo out of a sense of pettiness towards the online bookish community who felt a sense of outrage that on her show she suggested that her clients get rid of many of their books, and the revelation that she personally only kept about thirty books. Fortunately for me, the backlash led me to her books, which I probably never would have read otherwise. I was delighted by Life-Changing Magic, and I enjoyed Spark Joy just as much, so it was time for me to read Life-Changing Manga. This is also just following Marie Kondo’s announcement that she will be releasing two more books, including the confirmation of one of them being a picture book called Kiki & Jax: The Life-Changing Magic of Friendship.
The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up (illustrated by Yuko Uramoto, and translated to English from the Japanese by Cathy Hirano, the same translator from KonMari’s other books) takes all of the KonMari lessons you expect, and it puts them into a narrative comic. Rather than providing the information in a straightforward instructional fashion with additional anecdotes, this is shaped like a story. Chiaki realises her home is a mess and her life is a mess, and she contacts KonMari for tidying lessons. The story follows Chiaki’s personal journey, as well as the information KonMari teaches during her lessons.
Next to KonMari’s other two books, there are definitely pros and cons to reading the manga instead. If you are a very visual person, you will get more out of the manga (or Spark Joy) than Life-Changing Magic. I think one of the most beneficial aspects is really getting to see the method in play. Rather than just being told how to tidy, you get to witness someone’s journey, see how they do it, and experience the changes in their life along the way. If you find it easier to learn through storytelling than just receiving the information point-blank, you will definitely find this to be the most comfortable read. While none of the books are challenging to read, this one is the most accessible, and could feasibly be more comfortable for young adult readers as well. I think the one drawback is that you get much less information overall, with the book being shorter with less text, so many of the smaller points are set aside to allow the story to be front and centre. That said, Life-Changing Manga still offers up all of the most important points, with none of the most vital details missing, so if you aren’t looking for finer points then you will still find this book to be helpful and enjoyable.
Chiaki is a really relatable character whose whole life is a mess, and it’s genuinely touching to see her journey and the ways tidying impacts her life (and the happy ending is very satisfying). I like that the story of Chiaki getting her life together and experiencing interest in a new romance actually manages to be pleasurable and sweet to read on its own, without factoring in any practical information. There’s a really great sense of humour, and you really get to appreciate Marie Kondo’s sense of self-awareness as she pokes fun at the image of herself as a cleaning fairy. Yuko Uramoto offers up some truly adorable illustrations that fit the story nicely, illustrate the methods of tidying very clearly, and accentuate both the practical and fun sides of this book, while also capturing KonMari’s spirit really well. Cathy Hirano provides clear and concise translations as always, making the book an accessible read.
Overall, I genuinely enjoyed reading The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up. I feel like it’s something that would work incredibly well for folks who aren’t sure that a book on tidying would be interesting to them, as this expands into an enjoyable story. As far as this book as a companion read goes, I feel like I really enjoyed it as a story in its own right, and it helped to drive home the most important points from KonMari’s other books. It probably wasn’t my favourite of the three, but I think it’s easy to recommend to those who enjoy the other books as well as to those who are hesitant to read the other books. I definitely look forward to reading Marie Kondo’s future book releases.