Nagata Kabi, an amateur Japanese manga artist, has created a short illustrated comic book detailing her experiences with depression and how the feeling of isolation and profound sadness lead her to visit a lesbian brothel in search of comfort.
Depression is a phenomenon most of us have dealt with throughout much of our lives. While some decide to deal with their weighty and sometimes even crushing feelings in isolation, others decide to reach out to other people for help while spreading awareness of this societal illness at the same time.
A female Japanese mangaka, Nagata Kabi has decided to break the silence about her own bleak life experiences with an autobiographical manga called A Report on How I was so Sad that I Went to A Lesbian Brothel. Going through turmoil and sinking deeper into an inescapable feeling brought about by social isolation and the lack of sexual experience, Nagata-san decides to seek respite through sexual means by going to a lesbian brothel. She had hoped that the warm, motherly embrace of another woman would give her comfort and peace of mind.
A Report on How I was so Sad that I Went to A Lesbian Brothel has reached immense popularity on the artist community site Pixiv, reaching over 5 million total page views for all the parts of the manga story.
Pop culture-centric Japanese publication KAI-YOU has explored Nagata Kabi’s work, further explaining the purpose of her short manga and what kind of reader it’s aimed at. We’ve translated this very article for your reading pleasure:
Sadness. I want someone to care about me. I long for another person’s touch. Everyone feels this way at some point or another, with the way most people respond to this is being with a feeling of “isolation.”
However, because some people don’t have the self-confidence to face their “isolation”, their sadness never disappears, and they find it hard to even exist, at home or at work. In the midst her of gloom, struggling with an eating disorder, wishing for friends and even sexual experiences, one woman wondered “Will I become a crusty, 30-year-old woman, without any white-collar work experience, or even able to exist in society…?”
In order to try and escape from that horrible situation, the author of this work, Nagata Kabi, for some reason, decided to go to a lesbian brothel and then write a comic essay that described the entire process, in detail. The essay is titled “Sabishi sugite Lez Fuuzoku ni Ikimashita Report (A Report on How I was so Sad that I Went to A Lesbian Brothel).
Article written by: Hirarisa
The Essay, on sale on Pixiv:
When the original story, which detailed everything from the moment she decided to go to a lesbian brothel, through to her actually going there, received over 4.8 million hits, she decided to publish it. The book, which went on sale June 17th, has already received 3 issues and is being talked about all throughout the country.
You can, however, still read the experience on Pixiv for free. leaving many people thinking “I don’t need to buy a book,” or “A story about a lesbian brothel is just trying to drum up page hits with smut,” and don’t want to read the Pixiv version, either. However, those people are exactly the type of audience this physical version was made for.
More important than the lesbian brothel is the vivid sadness and conflict described here:
Naturally from the title, you can tell this story is going to be about lesbian prostitution; however, what’s more important, and what could accurately be described as the main topic, is the sadness surrounding Nagata Kabi. In the tankobon (full volume) version of the book, more space is dedicated to frankly describing how the sadness gradually gets worse than is dedicated to what happens in the brothel.
Concerned too much with her parents’ evaluation of her life and completely lacking any self-confidence or desire to do as she wanted for 10 years after graduating, Nagata-san was unable to find her place in society. It even got to the point where she thought she didn’t even qualify for the right to eat food like a normal person. In the end, she stood 167 cm tall but weighed only 38 kg.
“I remember when this pain began. It was 10 years ago.
I safely graduated from high school,
dropped out of college
and before I knew it
I was depressed, and had a major eating disorder.”
She looked for the cause of her pain and found that her lack of desire and sexual experience was causing her to wish “I don’t care who. I want someone to make love to me.” It was a physical wish, “Rather than a man, I want to be enveloped by a woman; a motherly figure.” When Nagata-san, who had nobody close enough to ask this favor of, learned of the existence of “lesbian brothels”, the shock was like Helen Keller yelling out “WATER!” for the first time. Looking to free herself from her sadness, she went to the lesbian brothel.
Is there any way to free yourself from solitude?
This is just my personal impression, but while isolation can stem from previous experiences and your surroundings, it can’t be solved with a temporary, one-time experience. The truth is, when I was in my teens as well, I could never get into a relationship with anyone. I went to plenty of parties and mixers, but I always ended up wondering “Is this really ‘love’, or not…?” and we always broke up without any further action on my part. This continued on for a while.
What helped me break out of this cycle was realizing in my early twenties that “It doesn’t matter if someone’s done it or not, if they’ve experienced love or not. In fact, many times that brings about an entirely new form of sadness.”
This might sound bleak and dissimilar to Nagata-san’s problems; however, because of this fact, I’m keenly aware how effective the simple knowledge that “You can’t escape solitude” is reducing how isolated you really feel.
You can just lay on that bed~
“And then finally, the time for me came.”
In going to the lesbian brothel, Nagata-san finally was able to give form and take hold of the gigantic feeling of isolation that surrounded her.
To your average person of your average age in your average situation, who’s able to make sexual contact with someone else easily, this may not seem like a big deal. To Nagata-san, however, it was certainly a huge step forward.
What’s an even bigger step is telling this story to other people via comic essay. It might not mean anything to Nagata-san herself now, or even when she wrote it, but I still think that both Nagata-san and many other people suffering through similar problems were helped through this work.
In reality, going to the lesbian brothel wasn’t a huge dramatic breakthrough that completely eliminated Nagata-san’s sadness. This highly anticipated “first experience” ended rather quickly, and didn’t introduce Nagata-san to immense pleasures of the flesh or the depths of love at all. Her “sadness” continued even after getting a taste of another person’s body. This rather obvious fact is really the crux of the entire work.
Nagata Kabi’s new work, born of her sadness:
After experiencing the brothel, and from the result of her manga itself, Nagata-san seems to have brightened a little bit; however, as can be seen in her new ongoing work “One Person Exchange Diary”, she’s still battling day-to-day with her isolation.
Even after reading the tank version, Nagata-san’s family still couldn’t feel her sadness, and seemed to feign understanding, sending her a message about being careful of STDs. Her family situation is still in…difficult standing.
“I’m sure you already know this, but be careful of things like gonorrhea, syphilis, and AIDS. I only know what I heard from people that read about it in books, but they seem pretty bad. AIDS especially could lead to death.”
A message from my mom.
Even so, being able to control that sadness around her might actually be a source of energy, and could even be the biggest talent Nagata-san could ever have.
Thinking about it, if you broadly categorized them, No Longer Human, The Temple of the Golden Pavilion, and Kokoro were all born from sadness. I wonder what Nagata-san’s sadness will bring forth next?
This work is a step forward for all of the “Sad Mangaka” in Japan. If you can, please buy a copy of “Sabishi sugite Lez Fuuzoku ni Ikimashita Report.”
Nagata-san’s story is more than likely not an isolated incident. In Japan, where depression among the common populace is rampant but sill very rarely brought up in public discussions, the topic is all the more difficult to talk about. Nagata-san’s work does not only reveal the difficulty of living with depression within Japanese society, but also gives us an idea how some of the overlaying issues are reflected in our sexuality. For Nagata-san and everyone else’s’ sake, we hope this series gets picked up through official means by a Western publisher and gets a proper translation, no matter how unlikely that may seem.
If you happen to know Japanese and would like to get the latest updates on Nagata Kabi’s work, be sure to follow her on her Twitter account.
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