Tsukumizu’s 2019 Shimeji Simulation is an on-going surrealist slice-of-life manga.
Orphan Shimeji Tsukishima was unhappy at middle school and to avoid it, locked herself away in a small closet for two years. As high school approached, she reluctantly left her refuge. To her surprise, she discovers two small mushrooms — shimeji — sprouting from her head.
Shimeji has come to believe that effort is futile and hope is doomed to disappointment, She intends to pass through high school like a ghost, eschewing social contact and accepting whatever dismal fate life has in store for her. But her visualization of the all proves… inadequate.
Majime Yamashita may have been born with a fried egg on her head, but she’s not going to let that stop her from being the happiest, most outgoing person she can be. Thus far her ambitions have not yielded the social acceptance she craves, but she remains determined to make friends and have fun.
Intrigued by sullen, quiet Shimeji, Majime declares herself Shimeji’s friend. When Shimeji remains aloof, Majime decides the only proper solution is to declare to Shimeji that she is Shimeji’s girlfriend. Shimeji doesn’t have the energy to protest. It might be that she even likes madcap Majime a little. Not that she would say so.
The schoolgirl with no will to strive is swept along in the wake of the schoolgirl with too much drive. Shimeji grudgingly joins the hole-digging club and slowly, reluctantly, starts to come out of her shell.
Complications ensue. Shimeji’s older sister is something of a mad scientist. She recruits Majime and Shimeji as minions; they’ll help her construct an arcane device with which to reclaim the world from God. Whatever that means….
You are doubtless wondering why did the sister let Shimeji hide in the closet for two years? The sister is devoted to her work and seems content to let Shimeji find her own way. Indeed, most of the adults in this manga are far too focused on their own issues to offer help or guidance to the teenagers.
People looking for a hormone-driven yuri manga should look elsewhere. Majime and Shimeji may be girlfriends but what that means is that sometimes Shimeji will permit Majime to hold her hand … briefly. While avoiding direct eye contact. Given that Shimeji spent enough time alone in the dark to sprout mushrooms, even that’s a big step.
Girls Last Tour protagonists Chito and Yuuri play minor supporting roles in this manga. How that’s possible is not clear. It’s just one of many odd bits about which one should not think too deeply. This is not a manga in which things make a lot of sense. Stuff happens. Causality is unclear. Detached acceptance is a valid coping skill. So is making friends. None of it means anything but at least if one has friends one isn’t alone, growing mushrooms on one’s head.
I don’t know if this manga is going anywhere but it doesn’t really matter. It’s pleasant in its odd way.
If Shimeji Simulation is available in North America, this is a well-kept secret.