Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku Manga Volume 3 Review (US Version)

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I can’t help but feel that if I was to revise my top 5 manga list of all time, Wotakoi would fall at number two on the list. I’ve talked at length before in my previous Manga vs Anime post about my love of this series, and I figured I should start where I (and the anime) left off, with volume three of the North American version which includes volumes five and six of the manga. I honestly can’t not talk about it at this point, it’s just too much of a comfy and feel-good series to not gush about. Fujita’s art is fantastic and the story is a great mix of short comedic chapters and longer, split up serious narratives. I found myself enjoying this volume just as much, if not more than the other two. Partly because we get to see some great love stories this time around and also partly for the great character development.

The back copy of this volume describes its story as “summer romance for nerds.” In this volume we see Hirotaka and Narumi battling the rumor mill to keep their relationship a secret from their coworkers, but of course it gets a little out of hand. We see Naoya’s continuing story of his grave misunderstanding about Ko and how he tries to save their relationship. But summer romance is not complete without a hotspring and festival chapter, and you definitely won’t be disappointed on that front with this volume. In terms of otaku goodness though, we also get to see Narumi’s first try at cosplaying. Continue reading

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Tokyo Tarareba Girls Manga Volume 3 Review

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What is it about watching romantic comedies about older women failing at love that keep us coming back? Is it because watching them fail makes us feel better about our own lives? Or is it just oddly entertaining to watch people make mistakes and ruin their own lives? I’m not entirely sure why, but all I know right now is that I am still hooked on the story of Tokyo Tarareba Girls. I mentioned in the volume 2 review that the themes and story of this series are fairly relatable, dealing with how the arbitrary 30-year-old milestone makes women think they’re failures if they’re not married and successful by then. Volume 3 continues these themes and shows us more how forcing yourself to be happy can lead to disastrous outcomes. All of this is wrapped up in some awesome art by Princess Jellyfish creator Akiko Higashimura.

Volume 3 picks up where the last volume left us, with Kaori and Koyuki still continuing their relationships with a married man and an ex-boyfriend while Rinko still feels lost after being dropped from a writing gig. When a gig finally comes Rinko’s way however, she finds she may not be young enough or in-the-loop enough to handle a story geared towards a younger audience. After Rinko loses the gig due to none other than Key’s meddling again, both Kaori and Koyuki begin questioning why they’re still in these relationships as new information about both of their men surfaces. Continue reading

Manga or Anime? – Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku

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What is it about Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku that keeps drawing me back? So far I’ve probably watched the anime about three times now all the way through. I’ve also picked up all three US volumes (6 Japanese volumes) of the manga and have read through all of those at least twice. I’ve reviewed the anime before on this blog, and I stick by my assessment that it’s a genuinely great series about nerdy people falling in love. It’s an anime I think we really needed with its energy, comedy, and healthy older relationships. So after the anime ended I felt the need to pick up the manga and see what other content there was, and I have to say that the anime is a fairly faithful adaptation with some minor changes to pacing and story. Like a lot of other adaptations, there are advantages to each medium whether it be animation or comics, and I find myself enjoying both the anime and the manga almost equally. However, there are a few notable differences between the two that I’d like to touch on more below. Continue reading

The Delinquent Housewife Volume 1 First Impressions

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The Delinquent Housewife was something I picked up on a whim when I was out picking up some manga that had just come out. It was new, so far there is only one volume published in the US, and the artwork seemed interesting enough, so I thought why not. I had a feeling that the content might not be that great since from the title and the back-cover copy, the story was going to follow a woman learning how to become a housewife, but I was willing to try considering it seemed perfect for the blog. In some ways I was right, and in other ways I found myself strangely enjoying this manga. Nemu Yoko has a great art style that gives the manga a great feel with some traditional shoujo styling and some great work on expressions. The story itself uses some traditional and semi-annoying plot devices and character tropes, but looking at it through the lens of comedy, I did find myself enjoying it as like a fluffy, sit-com read.

The story follows ex-biker gang member Komugi and her husband-to-be Tohru Komukai who have just decided to move back in with his family until they can look for a place of their own. Or that was the plan until Tohru gets called away on a business trip overseas, leaving Komugi stranded at her in-laws place. While Komugi appears to be an ideal housewife, the real truth is that she can’t do anything without Tohru. She doesn’t know how to do her own laundry, fry an egg, or do any sort of housework. The only person to catch on to both her secret past as a biker gang member and her inability to perform housework is her brother-in-law Dai. But it won’t be long until the rest of the family finds out, so Tohru enlists Dai and her biker gang buddies’ help to learn how to be a housewife before that time comes. Continue reading

Tokyo Tarareba Girls Manga Volume 2 Review

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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

Water Dragon’s Bride Manga Volume 1 First Impressions

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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

October Mythology Special: Kuchisake-Onna, or What Happens When Ghost Stories Get Too Real

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You’re walking down a dark street at night. Mist is starting to cover the ground making the road ahead of you hard to see. Suddenly you see the shadow of a woman step out of the mist and walk towards you. She looks like a fairly normal Japanese woman and is wearing a surgical mask to cover her face. That in and of itself isn’t weird as many people in Japan wear masks when they are sick or for various other reasons. The woman continues to walk towards you, and when she is close enough for you to see her face clearly, she asks, “Am I beautiful?” Not wanting to be rude, you answer “Yes”. The woman takes hold of her mask, pulling it down to reveal a mouth that has been slit open ear-to-ear, and asks, “Even now?” You have just met the Kuchisake-onna, how do you answer? Be careful, if you answer wrong, you could end up looking like her. Continue reading

October Mythology Special: Gashadokuro, the Hungriest of Ghosts

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Japan is known for its hungry ghosts, yurei who come back to haunt those who have wronged them or come back to fulfill some unfulfilled purpose before they can move on. In the last post, we had the Manekute no Yurie or the beckoning hand that appears sticking out of empty rooms, and will only go away once its wants are fulfilled or someone reads it some sutras. However, the the Manekute no Yurei is a fairly benevolent ghost despite its hunger. Hunger can be an extremely powerful force especially when put into the perspective of starvation and famine, and that’s where tonight’s ghostly story comes from. The Gashadokuro is the hungriest ghost of all and one of the most dangerous of the yurei who walk the darkened streets of Japan. You definitely don’t want to meet this one, but if you do there’s only one thing you can do…..run. Continue reading

October Mythology Special: The Disembodied Hands of Legend

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I’m sure you’ve noticed just how much I’ve been talking about XXXHolic, and it’s not just because it’s that time of year when I want to read slightly spooky or mystical stories. The content of XXXHolic hits on a lot of humanity’s biggest fears and insecurities, including the ones from legends and folklore. In chapter 26 of the manga, Watanuki keeps running into a disembodied hand on his way home from buying groceries. A hand sticking out of a cherry blossom tree. A hand lying behind a sandwich sign. At first he brushes it off as a mannequin hand, but when he makes it to the park, the hand is there again sticking straight up out of the ground. As he watches, a small petal falls onto its palm, the fingers close and reopen. The petal is gone. When some kids get too close, Watanuki loses his grocery bag to the hand and it drags it back into the earth where suspicious crunching noises are heard.

Stumbling into this short encounter while reading XXXHolic had me wondering what other kinds of myths were out there concerning disembodied hands, and is this one related to any in particular. I realize it might be a strange thought to have, but hear me out and join me as I go down this rabbit hole. I promise I’ll try and keep it short this time. Continue reading

October Mythology Special: Jorogumo/Tsuchigumo and Indigenous History

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Japan Powered recounts one story about a curious thing that happened to a logger out in the forest: “One day a logger was going about his work. Since logging is an exhausting business, seeing as how this was Edo period Japan and the chainsaw hadn’t been invented yet, the man decides to take a short break. He hears the crash of a waterfall nearby, and decides that sitting on the stream bank and watching the waterfall would be a pleasant way to spend his lunch break. However, no sooner has the man settled himself and unpacked his food than a strange something attaches itself to his foot! Puzzled, the man pulls the sticky substance off. He sees that it is something like spider silk. He sticks the stuff to a nearby log. A moment later, the log goes zipping across the stream bank, only to disappear beneath the churning waters of the waterfall. Not a little spooked, our logger decides it’s best to take his lunch break elsewhere and he beats a hasty retreat back into the woods.” Continue reading