I’m approaching 30 and am two years out from getting married, so it’s safe to say that I’m not really the target audience for Tokyo Tarareba Girls, but I do feel like I know enough people like the women in this manga to feel a connection to their story. They’re thirty year old women who have been told over and over again by society that they might as well be washed-up has-beens if they’re not married and living comfortably by now. This manga is simultaneously a depressing and entertaining look at how society–Japanese society in particular–enforces ideals of marriage, success, and love on women throughout their lives while setting an arbitrary cut-off date for these things at 30 years old. Akiko Higashimura continues to use a sharp sense of wit, a dynamic art style, and a keen understanding of society to create a truly entertaining manga for thirty-somethings and those of us approaching that arbitrary milestone age.
Volume two of Tokyo Tarareba Girls picks up right where volume one left off, with the fallout over Rinko drunkenly sleeping with the famous model Key. After finding herself alone the morning after, Rinko heads back home by herself feeling like it’s becoming ever more apparent she’s going to be alone for the rest of her life. Meanwhile, her friends Kaori and Koyuki are feeling like they’ve found a small bit of bliss while hooking up with a married man and an unavailable ex-boyfriend respectively. However, even these two begin to see that sex isn’t everything and the same old “what-if’s” begin to pop up again as they all have to face up against younger and fitter women. Continue reading
A couple months ago I posted on Twitter asking for opinions on what manga I should buy if I could only buy one volume, and this manga, Water Dragon’s Bride, was one of the suggestions I got. I’ve been trying to branch out from some of the longer running series I’ve been reading, trying out new stories and manga that look interesting, so I figured why not give this one a shot. I honestly wasn’t sure what my opinion of the story might be going in, but I was a little worried that I probably wouldn’t like this one or that it would have some problematic age-related romance in it that I usually steer clear of. And in some ways this manga surprised me, but in others it also confused me. I can see the appeal of the story and what the mangaka might have been going for in this first volume, but in all honesty, I’m not sure this manga is for me.
The Water Dragon’s Bride is a shoujo manga created by mangaka Rei Toma who has also created Dawn of Arcana. It’s a story about a young girl who is completely spoiled by her parents that gets transported to another world through a small pond in her backyard. The girl, Asahi, has no idea where she is and everything and everyone in this world is so strange and old-fashioned, totally different from the bustle of modern Tokyo she just left. She soon meets a young boy named Subaru who offers to shelter her while they look for a way to get her back to her parents. But Asahi’s strange clothes and way of speaking scare the other members of his village, and they begin to think that maybe she would be a suitable sacrifice to the god that lives in the lake. Continue reading
Kakuriyo hits a lot of the key points for me in terms of a series that I know I’m going to be interested in long-term. It has a focus on youkai, and as you probably know by now, I will forever be drawn to series that use concepts of mythology and the supernatural. But it keeps going further, by blending this youkai base with concepts of cooking and romance. In essence, it becomes its own weird isekai/cooking genre, with similarities to say Restaurant to Another World where the main character is forced to cook for youkai and other interesting characters with the romance integrated into the main plotline but not overshadowing it. I have to say at the end of watching the last cour, I do find myself liking the series as a whole and might pursue looking into the manga since the volumes are just starting to publish here in the US. However, I do have certain problems with the series, but those mainly focus on the quality of animation.
The second cour of Kakuriyo picks right up where the first cour ended, and while I only went up to episode 12 in the last review, I would say the second cour starts around episode 14. It’s within these first couple episodes that we see the beginning of the second major story arc with the arrival of the head of the competing Southern inn Orio-ya, Ranmaru. We met some of the employees of this inn before in the last cour, but it is here that it is revealed that Ginji’s status as a Tenjin-ya employee is only temporary, and he called back to Orio-ya to complete a special “ceremony”. In an effort to prevent this from happening and convince him to come back, Aoi threatens Ranmaru and Ougon-douji and is promptly kidnapped and taken with them to Orio-ya where her struggles begin anew. Continue reading
Welcome back to another first impressions post. I didn’t get a chance to do one last season, mainly because there was really only one romance show that season worth talking about, Banana Fish. It seemed like a lot of other bloggers had that one covered so I figured I could skip the first impressions post. Well, this season has certainly made up for the lack last season in both quality and quantity this season. There are six romances I wanted to talk about this time, and a few that I didn’t include in the list below because they sat on the line between romance and something else without specifically being tagged as a romance. In particular: Jingo-san no Yome and As Miss Beelzebub Likes. Both I have found to be pretty entertaining and I encourage you to check them out, but I won’t be talking about them here as neither are fully romance and sit more in the moe or slice-of-life genre. Anyways, see below for some first impressions of six romance shows currently airing this season, and if you want to see what other shows I’m watching this season, feel free to check out my MAL account. Continue reading
A.B. Mitford’s Tales of Old Japan has in it an enchanting story of a very particular wedding, a fox’s wedding. He tells of two young, white foxes here: “Now it happened that in a famous old family of foxes there was a beautiful young lady-fox, with such lovely fur that the fame of her jewel-like charms was spread far and wide. The young white fox, who had heard of this, was bent on making her his wife, and a meeting was arranged between them. There was not a fault to be found on either side; so the preliminaries were settled, and the wedding presents sent from the bridegroom to the bride’s house, with congratulatory speeches from the messenger, which were duly acknowledged by the person deputed to receive the gifts; the bearers, of course, received the customary fee in copper cash.
“When the ceremonies had been concluded, an auspicious day was chosen for the bride to go to her husband’s house, and she was carried off in solemn procession during a shower of rain, the sun shining all the while. After the ceremonies of drinking wine had been gone through, the bride changed her dress, and the wedding was concluded, without let or hindrance, amid singing and dancing and merry-making.” Continue reading
High in the mountains, a group of samurai gather, bringing the youngest of their class with them. It is long after the wars between clans have ended, and so the samurai’s grasp at the chance to feel brave, to prove themselves the warriors they once were. The cave they come to is dark, eerie even. Slowly they set up their game. One hundred candles are lit and the group gathers around as the light sends flickering shadows dancing along the walls. One by one they tell a story. A story of horror, of demons and ghosts, those stories meant to scare children or even the strongest among them. Each one tries to outdo the other, pushing their companions to fail, to drop out and admit they are scared. One by one, the candles go out until there is only one remaining. The last storyteller plunges the cave into darkness as the last candle is extinguished. From the shadows, a great black hand descends, reaching for the samurai, scattering their courage as they flee from the cave. Continue reading
Today and yesterday mark the two-day only release of Misaaki Yuasa’s new film The Night is Short, Walk on Girl in US theaters. I almost didn’t get tickets, as the ones at the theater closest to me were selling out rather quickly, even a two weeks before the release. Now, I’m so glad I decided to buy those tickets when I did because this movie is definitely worth watching. Coming from the director of the Tatami Galaxy, Lu Over the Wall, and, most recently, the new Devilman Crybaby series, you can definitely see Yuasa’s free-form and expressive style throughout the film. I’m a sucker for unique and artistically expressive animation, and this film has it in spades. It’s honestly a feast for the eyes and wound up warming my heart in the process.
If you haven’t had a chance to look into the film, it follows the plot of the novel of the same name written by Tomihiko Morimi of a young college-age girl (Otome as she’s referred to, since she doesn’t have a name) who is enjoying a night out on the town in Tokyo, a night that doesn’t seem to end. It’s full of drinking, festivals, and the magic of used book markets. It’s also full of love, longing, and the search for romance as Otome’s senior in college (called just Sempai) searches for a way to get her to notice him and earn her love. Continue reading
Nearly 1 in 4 men and 1 in 7 women have yet to married in Japan by the age of 50 in 2015 according to the Japan Times. That’s a record 23.37% for men and 14.06% for women. It’s one of the biggest worries of the Japanese Government, the fact that young people aren’t marrying and having children, though it’s not like they have lost the desire to marry. Roughly 86% of male respondents and 89% of female respondents to a survey of 18 to 34 year-olds have reported a desire to get married at some point in life. There are a myriad of reasons why this discrepancy is there, but that isn’t what this post is about. This post is about a manga that draws on the discontent of older unmarried women to create something akin to a Japanese Sex and the City sit-com, using an equal level of parody and drama to create something truly interesting.
Set in 2014 right after the announcement that Tokyo would be hosting the 2020 Olympics, Tokyo Tarareba GIrls follows 33-year-old screenwriter Rinko who finds herself swept up in the fervor and excitement as Tokyo begins getting ready for the games. Unhappy with the fact that her career is starting to plateau and she can’t seem to find a reliable boyfriend, Rinko spends all her free time drinking with her girl friends at a bar, lamenting the fact that none of them will have boyfriends to watch the Olympics with. Determined to change this fact, Rinko makes it a goal to find a boyfriend of quality husband material by the time the 2020 Olympics roll around. Created by Akiko Higashimura, the magaka for Princess Jellyfish, the English translation was just recently published this year through Kodansha. Continue reading
Every Friday now I make a trip from work to the comic book store near my bus stop. I follow a bunch of manga publishers on twitter and will usually try and save the names of the ones that look interesting. So a month or two ago, this title popped up on my feed, and when I walked into the comic book store, I decided, what the heck I’ll pick up a copy for myself. The title obviously made this out to be a romance and the cover is appealing as well as the fact that it was going to have at least one shape-shifting wolf in it. I always hope that any chance I take on buying a certain manga will turn out well, and this one definitely looked at least promising enough to give the first volume a try. And I can say that after reading through it twice now that while it may not be a great romance, it is at least an entertaining one with some familiar feels to it.
That Wolf Boy is Mine follows the life of Komugi Kusunoki who is given the option of moving to Hokkaido from Tokyo to live with her dad after a particularly traumatic experience at her old school. On her first day in her new school, she happens to be placed in the seat next to one of the school’s most popular boys, Yu Ogami, whose easy-going personality and exclamation of “You smell good!” both draws her to him and makes her wary. But it’s when she finds Yu dozing under a tree that things start to get weird, because he appears to have furry ears and a tail. Once Yu realizes his secret is out, Komugi gets drawn into his world of shape-shifting animals that also means she’ll be spending time with the most popular boys in school. Continue reading
After months of waiting and teaser trailers that showed off its awesome animation and world, I finally got the chance to see Maquia in theaters. There seems to be more modern sci-fi or slice-of-life movies coming out than say high fantasy or stories that focus on fantastical worlds. Your Name and A Silent Voice being the bigger block-busters of the last two years, both focusing on the lives of highschoolers with the former having a sci-fi twist. We had Mary and the Witch’s Flower, which was pretty good, but it still doesn’t really capture the high fantasy feel that Maquia does with its towering castles, dragon riders, and almost elf-like race of humans.
We also have Mari Okada at the helm, one of the bright stars of the anime industry in her first directorial debut. The Canipa Effect has a great video on what makes Okada so great, from her her ability to pull apart scripts and figure out their flaws, to her work on Anohana that’s impact is still being felt in Japan seven years after the series debuted. She pushed and continued to push her role as a screenwriter as far as it could go, eventually getting the chance to write and direct her own project. As The Pedantic Romantic mentions in his video on Black Rock Shooter and Okada’s involvement in the production, she is sometimes seen as a sort of queen of melodrama by members of the anime fandom. But if we look deeper into her stories and characters, we see that Okada has a keen eye for human relationships and how people develop friendships and the nature of devotion. Continue reading