I picked up a copy of Kakushigoto: My Dad’s Secret Ambition Vol. 1 through Net Galley. The premise of the book sounded interesting: a single-father manga artist writes dirty manga series and is terrified what it will mean for his daughter should she find out. The dad, Kakushi, has been working successfully as a manga artist for more than a decade. He seems to be fairly well known for his many dirty manga series and his single goal in life being to prevent his daughter, Hime, from finding out what his real job is leads to predictable hijinks.
Manga can often be over-the-top and completely unbelievable, but I found that to especially be the case here. It’s not that the story needs muted or realistic, but the conceit needs to make some sense. Kakushi spends literally the whole time going to insane measures to prevent his daughter from discovering what his career truly is, but it’s so ridiculous that it took me out of the story. Each chapter is only 8-10 pages, as well, so there’s so much insanity trying to fit into such a small space that it ends up being pretty confusing.
It’s touching to see a dad care so much about his daughter that he goes to such lengths to make sure she has everything she wants in life, but it’s wrapped up in such a weird story I found it mostly fell flat. There are some genuinely funny sight gags, but you catch one that makes you laugh every 10 pages or so amid the breakneck main plot. It’s a tough book to follow.
The book is drawn well, so it’s nice to look at. But in the end, I just didn’t feel like this one managed to land for me. I love manga, and am willing to suspend just about any amount of disbelief you ask me to, but the character motivations and actions still have to make sense and the story has to be coherent. I found Kakushigoto volume missed the mark on both points.