Awakening is the title of the first book in the Unnatural series by Mirka Andolfo the protagonist of which is a little pig called Leslie. In a world where anthropomorphic animals are the norm of a society that sees reproduction as its only function, Leslie will learn to find her place and to understand the difference between what she truly wants and what others deem normal.
Awakening – Plot
In a world populated by anthropomorphic animals, the Law only allows individuals of the same species to be together. All transgressors are punished, sanctioned and imprisoned. They are accused of being…
Leslie is a small and simple pig who loves sushi and music, she’s forced to do a job she hates to survive. She’s about to turn twenty-five and lives with Trish, her best friend, all the while dreaming of a different life. But dreams can be dangerous, especially when they involve a titillating wolf and when, upon waking, Leslie starts feeling watched.
If we had to find a way to describe Andolfo’s style, we would definitely call it irreverent and outspoken without censorship. After Un/Sacred, Mirka is back with a brand new series that, however, does not deviate from and overshadow her own personal style.
The protagonist, Leslie immediately pops out for her blue hair and her attitude. And she especially shines for her dreams where she lives a fiery and passionate relationship with a strange white wolf. A scandalous relationship in a world where couples are seen as a family nucleus whose only goal is reproduction. It’s clear, then, that individuals of different species (or of the same sex) will never be able to produce offsprings.
The concept behind Unnatural and the societal themes
It’s very obvious how the concept expressed by Unnatural inserts itself in a series of societal themes. The most evident is definitely that of LGBTQ+ couples that are, even now, questioned and rejected by many parts of society. After all, in the comic itself, there is an explicit mention of these kinds of couples that are seen under an even worse light by the government of this fictional setting and its people.
In any case, these types of relationships are strongly opposed and punished first with re-education or even with death.
The analogy with contemporary society is not all that far-fetched if we remember that even today some countries still strongly oppose homosexuality and even consider it against the law. It’s a theme that we have, in fact, already addressed when talking about Rafiki. When it comes to the subject of the different “species”, we can simply take a little jump into the past and remember how, not that long ago, mixed marriages weren’t all that well-regarded either.
Of course, considering that this is just the first and introductory chapter to this story, we won’t be seeing the effects this has on our protagonist’s forbidden relationship just yet because, for the time being, it is still only part of her dreams. However, we do notice another and not any less important aspect: the societal pressure on the theme of motherhood. This pressure is so strong in this society that we find out that all those who can’t find a partner before turning twenty-five, are inserted into a program with the aim of correcting the situation. And the punishment for those who refuse and for who, despite the program, still can’t find a partner with whom to give birth to a new generation is higher taxes and other types of penalizations.
Motherhood and societal pressure
Even though Unnatural is “just” a comic book and, therefore, the situations it presents are exaggerated to reiterate its base concepts, it’s undeniable that, still today, society has a series of expectations when it comes to the concept of motherhood. One need only think of how many times questions like “When are you getting married?” and “When are you gonna have children?” or even “You really don’t want any children?”, and statements like “You’ll change your mind eventually,” and finally “What happens when you get too old?” are repeated.
Phrases like this make it perfectly clear how much the function of women is still inexorably linked with the role of mother and how women are only considered “true women” when they finally accept their obligation of bringing into the world a baby. All of this regardless of how, quite honestly, personal aspirations might differ from the expectations. Some women might want to concentrate on their careers, others might simply like to be able to travel from country to country and discover the world without the weight of family on their shoulders.
In the end, Unnatural, through Leslie’s story, makes us realise how much an unwanted family can make for an unhappy life from several points of views. And at the end of the day, you can only fake it for so long.
Why read Unnatural?
With her clever irony, Mirka Andolfo pushes us to address a series of themes that aren’t as obvious as they may seem. As an introduction to the story, this first book already brings forth an array of juicy and hot issues that should make the average reader reflect on the society they live in. The comic book, while certainly being an entertainment medium, leaves enough space to let in something more. For those who like reading about societal themes, Unnatural can be a good starting point to further explore these and other aspects it mentions. There are even some that we haven’t touched upon yet and that could certainly be elaborated on in more dept. The protagonist’s difficulties with having to wear a type of clothing that she hasn’t chosen for herself can be one example of that, as can be the mention of her weight and the fact that she’s openly told she should lose some.
As a start, as we already said, it’s definitely a promising one and we’ll be sure to continue our reading of a series that has already been completed and that, if it’s something our readers might be interested in, we’d like to share with you all.
Have you read this series? What are your thoughts? Leave us a comment to let us know your opinion of it and if you agree with our review!