The mangaka behind comedy series Princess Jellyfish is back! Her latest work, Tokyo Tarareba Girls, has just been brought to print by Kodansha Comics and today I’m here to find out what makes it tick.
The series tells the story of a 33-year-old scriptwriter who lives in Tokyo, Rinko Kamata. She and her two best friends, Kaori Yamakawa and Koyuki Yorii, spend their days drinking and wishing for success in romance. Although they’ve all been successful with their careers, they really want to find husbands, and spend their days complaining about their past relationships. During one of these regular get-togethers the girls are overheard complaining about mankind by a mysterious, handsome young man, who boldly claims that as long as the three waste their time talking about ‘what if’s’ they’ll never find love. Enraged by the comments, Rinko vows to get married by 2020 when the Tokyo Olympic Games will be held – but love is difficult to come by when you’re seeking it out!
When I started reading this manga I struggled to relate to the characters. Being ten years’ Rinko’s junior and in a long-term relationship, it was difficult to understand where she and her friends were coming from. However, by the end of the volume I had a much better understanding of the cast’s feelings and motivations, thanks to this being such a well put-together story. Admittedly, a huge turning point for me was how the girls get together to drink and forget their problems.
While I can’t necessarily relate to their relationship problems, I can completely understand the need for the ‘girls’ night out’ to complain about the cruelties of the world and the latest string of problems in your life. It’s refreshing to be with the people you call best friends and just air your grievances – of which Rinko and friends have many! These scenes are great fun to read through and I can certainly see how mangaka Akiko Higashimura made her name drawing comedy manga.
The artstyle of Tokyo Tarareba Girls is fairly realistic and reminiscent of shojo series like Say I Love You, but also dips into more dramatic scenes to emphasise its most comedic moments. For example, when Rinko’s old flame admits he’s about to propose to a workmate – and not to her, as she excitedly had anticipated – lightning violently strikes and destroys a building! However, much of the comedy for the series actually comes from Higashimura’s witty dialogue and back-and-forth banter between the cast. This, coupled with the wide range of expressions she gives the cast, really draws you in and makes you feel like you’re right alongside the girls. It’s sure to bring a smile to your face and make you laugh.
The first volume in this nine book series leaves me wanting more and also hoping that we’ll see more development for Kaori and Koyuki. The two clearly have interesting histories when it comes to romance but this volume centres on Rinko more than anyone. That isn’t a bad thing overall but I do hope that future installments spread out the focus to the other characters just a little bit more. This can also be said for the handsome young man who begins frequently popping up in Rinko’s life after their first encounter…
Tokyo Tarareba Girls has already been fully released digitally by Kodansha Comics but this first physical volume marks the start of the series making it to print. Translation has been handled by Steven Lecroy and reads well, which is especially important given the amount of dialogue in this manga. As usual for a Kodansha release, there are in-depth translation notes at the end of the volume too.
Overall Tokyo Tarareba Girls is a fun read with an interesting concept behind it. While I’m not necessarily its target audience and started off struggling to relate to it, by the end I was keen to get my hands on future volumes. Fans of Princess Jellyfish and Higashimura’s other works will no doubt find a new favourite here.
Read the first chapter of Tokyo Tarareba Girls at the publisher’s website here.