This is the second volume in a series of three autobiographical books about Momoko Sakura’s childhood: 『あのころ』、『まる子だった』、『ももこの話』
There are 17 short stories in this book, all have one illustration by Momoko Sakura. 『まる子だった』can be read independently from the two other books of the series.
If you like ちびまる子ちゃん, either the manga or the anime series, then you will love this book too. Reading 『まる子だった』felt like watching an episode from the anime, but a version for adults.
For those who don’t know Maruko, she is a 9-year-old girl of the 70s created in 1986 by Momoko Sakura in her manga 『ちびまる子ちゃん』. The series was adapted into an anime in 1990, and if I am not mistaken, the anime is still going on today.
Maruko is a nickname, her real name is Momoko Sakura, the same as the author. I have read on Wikipedia that Sakura’s manga was autobiographical at the beginning, and became more fictional as the series went on.
In our book, 『まる子だった』(1997), the author comes back to the autobiographical style. She gives us stories about the 9-year-old girl she used to be, sometimes briefly talking about her adult life too. It feels like watching an episode of the anime, but from the grown-up Maruko’s point of view. As such, it was very interesting to read, and I just could not put the book down. I read it in four days!
What I really loved is that most stories allowed me to experience a typical Japanese childhood in the 70s (going to Tanabata festivals, preparing for earthquakes…), while some other stories seemed to be talking about my own childhood. It looks like children are not that different, no matter the generation or the country (I also harassed my parents for a dog).
All the stories have a similar length (around 12 pages). It is not a book for children, but it is not difficult to read either. Momoko Sakura is talking about her daily life as a child, all the stories are short, and if you have watched some episodes of the anime, it is easy to picture where the story takes place and who the characters are.
I plan to read the other two books of the series in the future!