What are you willing to give up when it comes to making a relationship work? When does a compromise start to affect your values or sense of self? Volume four of Tokyo Tarareba Girls digs into these questions among many others, using the character’s relationships as a frame to examine some pretty tough questions about love and relationships. The series was recently nominated for and then won the award for “Best US Edition of International Material – Asia” during the Eisner Awards this year. Honestly, I definitely think it’s well-deserved considering the scope and gravity of some of the things this series talks about and they way Higashimura uses comedy to address serious topics. I wanted to revisit this series this week both because of the recent Eisner win and because the series is very soon coming to a close with its 9th volume next month. Higashimura has given us so many great manga series with Princess Jellyfish and now her autobiography Blank Canvas, which is currently on volume two, that I really think this hilarious Josei series deserves to sit equally next to her other series.
Volume four picks up with the story as Rinko continues with her relationship to her current cinephile, bartender boyfriend. But something is nagging at Rinko about their relationship, particularly his insistence that she change her hairstyle to match that of his favorite actress. Even as she dreams of marrying this man, she begins to question how much change is too much to ask for in a relationship and how much she’s willing to overlook for the man she wants to marry. With the 2020 Olympic deadline for marriage still looming on the horizon, all three women scramble to balance relationships and careers. Continue reading
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
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
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