Story & Art by Minami Q-ta
Cover Design by Robert Battersby
Translated by Dan Luffey
Lettering by Meg Argyriou
Project Management by Matt Haasch
Being a parent is one of the toughest jobs there is, and even those of us who don’t have children (like myself) can sympathize with the amount of dedication it requires. This leaves single parents in an even harder position, and it makes living a balanced and healthy life an even greater battle. Star Fruit Books’ debut title Pop Life explores the nature of parenting and family as a whole, through the lens of a shared household.
Pop Life centers on Kinato Sakura and Chiba Akemi, two single mothers who decide to live together and raise their children as a family. Despite being the same age, Sakura and Akemi have drastically different backgrounds. Sakura is a part-time manga artist, while Akemi has a more traditional company job. Their parenting experiences are also different, as Sakura’s son Kaede is already in his mid-teens, as opposed to Akemi’s children, Taichi and Ruru, who are still in grade school. These women have lived very different lives, but their different experiences serve as a form of support. Sakura handles many of the home activities of the family, while Akemi is able to focus on her job to support them. Both of them fill the voids in each other’s lives, easing the burden they face.
Sakura and Akemi’s family is far from ordinary, but Pop Life conveys how their circumstances don’t delegitimize their household. This is particularly evident in how Sakura cares for Taichi and Ruru just as equally as her own son. She takes them out to play, feeds them, and even watches over their health. At one point, Taichi casually refers to Sakura as his “second mother” and it’s not far from the truth. Pop Life shows that family is what you make it to be, even in the most untraditional circumstances.
Minami Q-ta’s simple yet grounded artwork helps set a calming tone for the series, conveying the ordinary daily life that Sakura and Akemi experience. This further extends to the character expressions, which are never bombastic, but still effectively convey the proper emotions to the reader. Additional praise needs to be given to the series’ sense of fashion. Both Sakura and Akemi are drawn in a wide variety of outfits that coincide with the occasion on hand. It’s these small details that make Pop Life such a charming read from start to finish.
Pop Life is a lovely manga that depicts the collaborative bonds of family. It’s heartwarming to read about these characters, as they support each other through the highs and lows of life. Parent or child alike, this is one series that should be on your radar.