The Life-changing Manga of Tidying up by Mari Kondo [book review]

The Life-changing Manga of Tidying up: a magical story by Mari Kondo, illustrated by Yuko Uramoto and translated by Cathy Hirano. Published by Ten Speed Press, California, 2017.

Mari Kondo got famous with her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (2011). She is known for her decluttering method of only keeping things that 'spark joy'. Last year, she got even more attention with the success of her Netflix series Tidying Up with Mari Kondo.

I have read the book around 2014, years before the Netflix series.  I liked its simple language and practical tips. I have once tried to declutter using her method, and while I remember that it felt great, I'm still an hoarder and not just a naturally tidy person. I am trying to be, though! I used to be a book hoarder. Over the years,  I also got rid of a lot of books. Now, I try to keep fewer physical books. I now have a more minimal bookshelf than what I had years ago.

Kondo's method is pretty simple, and the thesis of her book is to only keep things that spark joy or make us happy. I also like how she views our possessions as things to respect. She also organizes by category: Clothing, Books, Paper, Komono (kitchen, bathroom, garage and miscellaneous), and Sentimental items. Aside from our material possessions, she also emphasizes that our psychological state affects our clutter.

There is a manga version of her book that my sister owns, so I thought I would read it to review Kondo's tidying concepts. I expected the same one as her 2011 book but only with illustrations, I was wrong though. The manga has characters and a story!

The book is sized almost the same as a typical manga volume, so it would fit right into a manga collector's bookshelf. The story is about Chiaki, a young woman who lives alone in a very cluttered studio. She enlists the help of Mari Kondo (also drawn manga-style), and together they try to declutter her home. Chiaki is expecting Mari to help her overhaul her stuff, but Mari first tells her to deal with her personal stuff. Meanwhile, Chiaki also meets her neighbor - who she seems to like but is a complete neat-freak unlike Chiaki.

It's quite funny, as Chiaki is someone who falls in love easily. Her space is filled with things related to her past relationships. In the process of tidying up with Mari Kondo, she also confronts her past through her possessions in entertaining ways.

Though there is a plot to follow, Mari Kondo's tidying methods are also presented while she helps Chiaki. Even if you haven't read her books or watched the Netflix series, her concepts are easy to follow and understand. What I find helpful is the pages illustrating Kondo's method in folding and storing clothes. This manga is also great for people who don't like reading much but may prefer the manga or comics format.

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