First off, this delightful collection of shorts chronicle (to an exaggerated extent) the life of Moyoco Anno and her otaku husband (and anime director) Hideaki Anno. If you’re not a fan of either, never fear, because this book is also filled with otaku references galore. Even if you’re not a hardcore otaku, never fear, because the back of the book is filled with about thirty pages of detailed notes and annotations. The most hard core of otakus will still probably learn something.
Insufficient Direction is a window into the life of manga creator Rompers (Moyoco’s avatar) and her otaku husband Director-kun (Hideaki). It also chronicles the gradual slide of Rompers into otaku-dom as she tries to be a good ota wife. While she starts out adamant she won’t become like her husband, she very quickly starts picking up otaku habits from him, and begins to realize she may have been an otaku all along. Rompers and Director burst into anime songs together, wake up early for the newest Super Sentai episode, visit areas where favorite shows were filmed (or inspired), guest star in otaku-themed movies, and even hand out doujinshi at their wedding. Though Rompers initially fights against it, she eventually gives in and just lets her otaku nature flow freely. It certainly helps (or doesn’t help) that her husband is one of the country’s top otaku. She goes from fighting against the otaku-zation of their home to placing a Kamen Rider on the shelf to balance two other figures and giving Director his own room to store all of his anime and manga. Every chapter is filled with the adventures of married life, as well as references to everything from Ultraman to maglev trains to Shinji Tanimura to Mighty Jack. There are arguments and compromises, along with glimpses of love and affection.
This window into the life of the Anno family is a treat to read. I’ve long viewed Hideaki Anno as a heavy, depressed sort of guy, forever bogged down by Evangelion. But Moyoco presents him as a joyful, innocent, and gentle man (albeit obsessed with anime and manga). Her affection for him is obvious, though she also has an excellent sense of humor about their relationship. The book chronicles the most mundane things, from cleaning the house to loosing weight, but manages to make them endearing events. The artwork is frenetic, and the book is a quick read, each of the twenty-one episodes clocking in at around six pages. Accompanying the book, besides the aforementioned extremely detailed annotations, is a short afterward by Hideaki Anno, in which he discusses his wife and the perception of himself within her manga. He praises the work and provides a little realistic insight into the life of an otaku. I think $14.95 is a bit pricey for this, but Vertical does good work, and the overall presentation is excellent.