Otoko Oidon: How Many Weeks in a Life?

Volume 5 opens with Nobotta putting up a flag fashioned out of striped shorts to celebrate the one year anniversary of being fired from his factory and having to quit night school.  These events happened in the very first chapter of the manga, and since this is the 52nd chapter it means Otoko Oidon happens (or happened) virtually in real time: every week a manga chapter came out covering one week in Nobotta Oyama’s life.

In chapter 8 of the same volume Nobotta tells the ramen shop owner that he’s been in Tokyo for 4 years and 8 months.  This is roughly 243 weeks.  Since this is the 59th chapter overall, it means there is a prehistory of the manga of about 184 chapters, so we are missing 14 or 15 volumes of Nobotta-in-Tokyo stories!!

Knowing this allows us to put things into context.  The factory job plus night school seems to be as good as Nobotta gets.  It’s his Peak.  Before was his Rise, and after comes his Decline.  And this is what we’re reading, the Decline (and possibly Fall) of Nobotta Oyama.

He has three fundamental problems that cause him all sort of trouble:

1) He sleeps too much and forgets too much.

2) He is too proud.

3) He doesn’t think things through.

It’d be pretty hard for anyone (not from a privileged background + not physically attractive)  to succeed with this combination of qualities.  The only way someone like him can succeed is if he’s got some amazing skill (like, for example, being able to build spaceships from scratch).  Nobotta has utterly no skills, except he’s a pretty good swimmer, but nobody cares about that.

It’s a sad odyssey Mr. Oyama has embarked on.

Vol. 5 Ch. 4 = A girl wants Oyama to teach her integral calculus.  He’s too proud to say he doesn’t even know what that is so he ends up avoiding her altogether.

Vol. 5 Ch. 6 = Oyama goes back to the night school to check if he can continue his studies, and he gets told his break has been too long so he can’t.

Vol. 5 Ch. 7 = Nobotta gets invited by a woman to see a film.  Actually, the woman has a boyfriend and her father won’t allow them to go out unless they have a chaperone.  Nobotta is meant to be the chaperone.

Vol. 6 Ch. 1 = Nobotta gets a sack of dough from a neighbor.  He notices it has raisins in it, but he’s careless and he prepares it for all his friends.  He then hears from the neighbor that the raisins are mice poop, but Nobotta is too ashamed to stop everyone from eating the dough and he eats it too.

Vol. 6 Ch. 4 = Nobotta scrounges up enough money to go to the beach.  Since he is all alone everyone  thinks he’s a pervert on the prowl.

Vol. 6 Ch. 7 = Nobotta delivers ramen to a poolside party.  He trips and falls into the pool with all the ramen.  He decides to eat as much of the underwater ramen as he can, since he knows no one will eat it now.  Then he overhears a little boy confessing to his father that he peed in the pool.

I don’t know about this comic.  Is it meant to be cathartic?  It’s pretty funny throughout, but it always makes me sad in the end.

~ by Haloed Bane on April 27, 2011.

2 Responses to “Otoko Oidon: How Many Weeks in a Life?”

  1. Hmm, it seems Nobotta’s problem is he doesn’t think big. Amazing skills result from having something beyond personal pride and desire to sleep yourself out. On the other hand, is it really a problem? How many people are currently climbing the ladder to be able to afford being proud, sleeping a lot and not caring to remember things or think them out sometime in the future? Nobotta is lucky to have it all now.

    A question: has he ever considered suicide in earnest? You mentioned in one of the posts he never gets downright suicidal, but I’d like to check it again: has this issue ever been on the agenda?

    • The theme of “Darn, I guess I have it good in many ways” does recur in this show. Usually it’s the landlady that points out ways in which Nobotta’s life is pretty good.

      So far he’s never been well and truly suicidal. When he’s truly dejected what he gets is a vision of himself having to go home to Kyushu with nothing to show for it. That’s the ultimate failure scenario…not suicide.

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