Review - Gudetama: Mindfulness for the Lazy Publisher: Oni Press Writer and Artwork: Wook-Jin Clark Character: Sanrio Release date: 7th April 2021 To those unfamiliar, the Sanrio character, Gudetama, is fundamentally an egg yolk personified. It has a head, arms, legs and is without gender, owing to it being an unfertilised egg. “Lacking spunk” The character has however, one feature that has endured it to fans; Gudetama has one hell of a cute butt! Often found sprawling on its egg white with a bacon rash blanket; its laziness and vocal protestations against its lot in life, have lead it to become an unlikely symbol of Japanese Kawaii culture. Gudetama has a huge media franchise. There is everything from plush toys, games and clothes to suitcases, following the success of the tv series. The minute long episodes air, every morning, on Tokyo Broadcasting System Television. Gudetama has over 1.04 million Twitter followers, the largest for any Sanrio character, even beating Hello Kitty!
So far, the transition to comics has proven popular, with a well liked manga series behind it, the comics were a no brainier. This is Wook-Jin Clark’s fourth comic based on the character of Gudetama, with Oni Press. This edition focuses on mindfulness, or Gudetama and other characters, lack there of.
At first, Gudetama is a little unwilling to engage. The lazy, little, egg yolks natural state, is laid back; to the point of being horizontal. On it’s front, butt to the sky, is how we are aptly introduced to the character this time. Nisetama is Gudetamas friend and guide. He helps Gudetama navigate the wacky world of people, on their own mindfulness journeys. Educating the sometimes reluctant, rude or downright crazy characters that reflect our own, often eccentric world.
As the comic progresses, Gudetama learns and actively seeks to help people stay in the present. Through problem solving, learning to sympathise and empathise with the characters, Gudetama then seems to get it. As a result, and rather inspiringly, Gudetama then manages to comes up with one simple rule; “Don’t be a Butt.” In order to help the characters learn how to become more mindful themselves. This is so apt, on so many different levels, for Gudetama and life! For me, however, this is as good, clever and funny as the comic gets.
The trivial problems in life are often the most annoying. Here is where the comic actually thrives by overcoming some of these difficulties. The down right stupid, tedious, arguments that friends and couples can have, was perfectly illustrated by two characters. Their arguing over what was better, cats or dogs, was so ridiculous but that is life, sometimes it’s just plain daft. More especially during these turbulent times, in lockdown, which is not good for personal relationships! The comic, for this, may well prove to be, just a tad too late; as we are coming out of lockdown … Time will tell!
Ultimately, and apologies if this is a spoiler, but I don’t think Gudetama takes mindfulness or itself very seriously. As a result, it goes back to its egg white bed and lounges about again to finish, under the guise of a meditating nap.
Wook-Jin Clark’s artwork is, as always, beautiful; with vibrant colour and plenty of movement. His story telling is mostly logical and easy to follow; but there are a few scenarios that drag on unnecessarily. I have to say, the font choice isn’t brilliant, especially the U which looks like an L and I together. Therefore making re-reading a necessity which really doesn’t help the comic flow. Whilst this comic will appeal to the huge swathes of people that already buy into the Gudetama fan club. I think this comic would truly be an asset to educating older school aged children, teenagers, tweens and college students. Learning about how to be more in the present and mindful of others is hugely important. Especially in this age group, as it helps define what sort of adult they could become. I definitely don’t see this one being an adult comic or to be taken too seriously as a self help guide. It’s not laugh out loud funny like some of the previous titles. If I am honest, it’s not that helpful to real life, adult situations, as well as being a little bit niche. Therefore, unless you are a die hard, adult Gudetama fan the comic is probably not going to help or appeal to you. However, for a little bit of light hearted reading, it is great. Or for perusing some of the fantastic examples of Wook-Jin Clark’s artwork and story board work, then big thumbs up. If it were called Mindfulness for lazy teenagers, then yes, it would have done it’s job. Sadly, it hasn’t done it for me and I am genuinely gutted about it. I really wanted to love it, I don’t dislike it but I just feel it could have gone much deeper and or, been a lot funnier. That said, I am one person and this is just my opinion. As is clear from this comic’s mindfulness message, everyone has an opinion and yours may well differ from mine. So I ask you to read it, let me have your thoughts in the comments and rate it yourself below.
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