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The Spring 2022 Manga Guide
My Brain is Different: Stories of ADHD and Other Developmental Disorders

What's It About? 

This intimate manga anthology is about the struggles and triumphs of individuals learning to navigate daily life with a developmental disorder. The comics follow the stories of nine people, including: a junior high dropout finding an alternate path to education; a former “troublesome” child helping kids at a support school; a so-called problem child realizing the beauty of his own unique quirks; and a man falling in love with the world with the help of a new medication. This inspiring volume illustrates their diverse anxieties and finding self-empowerment in a world not quite built with them in mind.

My Brain is Different: Stories of ADHD and Other Developmental Disorders has story and art by Monzusu and English translation by Ben Trethewey. Seven Seas Entertainment released the anthology both digitally and physically for $9.99 and $14.99 respectively.

Is It Worth Reading?

Jean-Karlo Lemus


My Brain is Different is a very important read for a simple reason: in a world where many publicized anecdotes of neurodivergence and mental illness are told from the perspective of neurotypical people, the anecdotes in My Brain is Different all come from neurodivergent people. The book even goes so far as to give a handy breakdown of the conditions of the people telling their stories, down to informing us of their comorbidities and what medication (if any) they use to cope with their diagnosis. These are not inspirational happy stories: they are messy, they are laden with pitfalls, and they sometimes go into dark places. Many of these people suffer abuse; sometimes because of their diagnosis, sometimes regardless of it. It takes empathy, help, and understanding for these people to develop the skills they need to take part in a world that wasn't made for them. And at the very least, there's a lot of hope to be had in that: no matter how hard, there's a way to make things work.

The artwork is simple, letting the writing drive the point home. There's a handy glossary at the beginning to explain many of the terms that get reused often, and plenty of liner notes to explain the various Japanese social services the individuals seek help from. In all, this is a very important read, but one tempered by proximity—I can only wonder what this will mean to someone neurotypical (which I am not), but I would hope that people who seek to empathize have much to gain from it, while neuroatypicals who read it might walk away with renewed hope.

Rebecca Silverman


“I now had proof that there were some things I couldn't do no matter how hard I tried.” This line, from one of the nine stories of people with developmental disorders and learning disabilities (sometimes now called learning differences), is just one of the things about the book that's so real it hurts. My Brain is Different is one of the nonfiction essay-style manga that we've been seeing more of in English the past few years, and it at times can be a painful, difficult one to read, especially if you grew up in a time when being different just meant that you were somehow “wrong” as a human being. While that attitude is slowly changing, it's not happening at a uniform pace, and that's what makes this collection feel particularly important: it's a reminder that there's no one or “right” way to be a person, and that not all disabilities can be seen with the naked eye.

Most of the cases covered in the book are ASD [Autism Spectrum Disorder] and ADHD [Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder], and while neither of those are my particular struggles (I'm on the anxiety/panic/PTSD side of things with a handful of learning differences), that doesn't stop the pieces from hitting home hard. All of the cases documented involve trying to be the square peg in the round hole and capture a sense that if you could just sand down those corners, everything would magically begin to work out. This naturally makes the book a difficult read, and while all of the essays end on a hopeful note, if not a flat-out positive one, many of them contain mention of suicide, bullying, and some of the worst teachers you've ever encountered. Clearly, “Teaching the Exceptional Child” was not a required course for these people. There are also terms used that are currently out of date, like “learning disability” versus “learning difference” and “Asperger's Syndrome,” which is now just folded into ASD, but this is more just something to note than a major textual issue, and Seven Seas does make a note of that in the front matter of the book.

It's hard to really speak objectively about this manga. If it hits you where you live, it can be hard to read, and I would hope that it can inspire understanding and empathy in people who don't cope with these issues personally. The art is simple, but that's really neither here nor there – what's important about this work is that it helps to show that not all disabilities are visible and that maybe the peg doesn't need to change – the hole does.



As someone in their late 20s who only recently became diagnosed with ADHD and depression, this collection of personal stories hit me in a way that I was not prepared for when I put aside the time to actually read it. A lot of people grow up with certain difficulties based on the way that they perceive the world around us. Society is often structured in a way to best accommodate a specific subset of people, but how do those who don't fit squarely into what is considered “normal” live in such a society?

This collection goes through the lives of various different people with varying versions of ADHD and developmental disorders, showing what life has been for them throughout multiple stages of their lives and most of the time, those lives aren't always easy. Sometimes people get lucky and find an environment that perfectly accommodates our specific outlook on the world but most of the time, it's up to us to adjust to society. I was surprised how thorough and explicit the book could be at times with portraying the very real and depressing parts that some people with these disorders and I will say that if you are considering reading this at all, please be wary that there is quite a bit of triggering content that I don't think the book fully warns people enough about from the offset.

Despite the heavy subject matter, the book still carries a relatively optimistic and hopeful tone most of the time. The intent seems to be less about just being depressing and more about educating those who might not be as aware of these issues as they might want to be while also reaching out to those who might relate to a lot of the stories in an attempt to show them that maybe things will be OK. Don't let the overly simplistic and at times distracting art style fool you, this is definitely something that I think everybody should read at least once in their lives

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