Shoutarou Kominami hasn’t left his house for months. He doesn’t need to. Usually he can rely on his mom to send some cash his way each month to support him and his “shut-in” lifestyle. Then his mom announces that she’s no longer going to supply him with the cash he needs to sustain himself. She nudges him to get a job.
Predictably, Kominami absolutely hates going outside or interacting with people. Fortune smiles upon him, however, as he happens upon a job that seems to be tailor-made for him. His new boss is a manga artist looking to profile the life of a “shlocken,” someone who combines the qualities of a shy and lonely person and a chicken. As Kominami soon learns, he’s entered a hilarious new world where he’s forced to complete new and terrifying tasks each day—like ordering food at a restaurant, going to a concert, and all kinds of other scary things he’s not comfortable with.
The term “shlocken” is obviously made up, but it describes Kominami to a T. It’s obvious the manga’s talking about a NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training), but in nicer terms, trying to make the situation of unemployed shut-ins a bit funnier instead of the growing problem it is in Japan. The sentiment isn’t softened any here, but it takes on a comedic connotation that somehow makes it possible to laugh with Kominami instead of at him.
And so Kominami falls in with Katou, a lovely lady who’s scouting subjects for a manga artist named Kitazono. Kominami somehow falls for the lie that Kitazono is some sort of psychologist and that he’s going to “get better” after taking part in the schemes she has planned for him. Kominami is sent out to take cooking lessons, go to an amusement park, talk to other people, and take part in a wide, weird variety of activities that he’s clearly not cut out for.
The first part of the manga spends a lot of time putting the protagonist into these comedic situations, but gradually he starts to come into his own and genuinely blossom into the person he was before he became a shut-in. The hilarity doesn’t fade over the course of this giant-size manga omnibus.
Shut-In Shoutarou Kominami Takes On The World takes an often-mocked archetype and turns it into something fun, lighthearted, and sympathetic. There’s an underlying message of hope, even when Kominami isn’t able to believe in himself. While it might seem a bit mean spirited at first, Shut-In Shoutarou makes a strong argument that a little tough love is sometimes needed to advance in life.
publisher: Yen Press
story and art: Dan Ichikawa