Manga of the Month: Tokyo Tarareba Girls

Tokyo Tarareba Girls by Akiko Higashimura

Are you in the Olympic spirit like me? Then enjoy Tokyo Tarareba Girls! I’m sure a dramedy about single 30-somethings discussing their lives and loves isn’t the first series that seems relevant to an international athletic competition, but these women have a plan: get married before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

From the creator of Princess Jellyfish comes a hilarious and searing look into the concepts of youth, beauty, love, sex, and society’s expectations on women, especially as they age. Successful screenwriter Rinko and her friends meet-up to commiserate their “old age” and play the what-if game of continuously rehashing their past decisions and speculating on how things could have turned out differently. Their feelings about their failed relationships and their desires to find love are complex. They embrace society’s demands of them while also trying to reject those demands; it’s a tough and true place they find themselves in.

Funny, heartbreaking, a little too on the nose at times, and over the top at the right points, Tokyo Tarareba Girls speaks with authenticity about the actual experience of your 30s VS what you thought it would be like in your 20s. Just because life didn’t turn out the way you planned doesn’t make it wrong, but will Rinko learn this herself by the end?

~kate

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Manga of the Month: In This Corner of the World

In This Corner of the World (この世界の片隅に) by Fumiyo Kouno

hisui_icon_4040_round When there is both an anime and a manga of the same story the natural question is which of the two should you experience before the other. The simple answer is usually to seek out the original first and then look at the other one if you have the time and money.

When a title is originally an anime seeking out the manga is usually only for those who are gluttons for punishment. They tend to be pale imitations of the original with truncated narratives and inferior storytelling. There are some notable exceptions but they are mostly the exception that proves the rule.

Titles that are manga first fare better when translated to anime. They tend to be hit or miss if they can live up to the original but good anime adaptations of manga are hardly shocking. The real rarity is the anime that surpasses its origin. If anything the anime are usually just very competent direct translations that add little to the story but also don’t lose much either. Overall your best bet is to stick to manga and maybe watch the anime if it has some cool fights or pretty scenery. It also means if you saw the anime there is little reason to read the manga.

This formula is a quick criterion that does a pretty good job of making effective use of your time.  It is important to note that there are some special examples that stand out as prime examples of flying right in the face of that simple rule of thumb. The rare case where the anime and manga are both are each brilliant pieces of art in their own way and worth experiencing twice. Each version tells the same story but is able to do it in a way that is complementary to both versions. Akira and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind are the two titles that come to mind when talking about this. People often prefer one over the other but still recommend that you see both. I would say without hesitation In This Corner of the World is also on this short list of titles that are worth experiencing in both of its forms.

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Manga of the Month: The Promised Neverland

The Promised Neverland by Kaiu Shirai and Posuka Demiz

hisui_icon_4040_round Sometimes you finish all your work for the day but you will have 20 minutes before you can go home. As anyone who has ever worked in an office will tell you that is YouTube time. It is not enough time to start working on anything you need to do but it is also not enough time to waste doing nothing. Finding myself in that sweet spot I loaded up a video that caught my eye about The Current State of Shonen Jump. It was an examination of the magazine since the conclusion of Bleach and Naruto. It is a solid emanation of the state of the magazine after they lost two of the recent Big Three titles. The thing that caught my attention the most was mostly just a footnote in the greater context of the video. One of the most popular titles in the magazine was currently The Promised Neverland. Other than Hinomaru-Zumou I was fairly familiar with all the other titles on the list. Hinomaru-Zumou is a sports manga about sumo without an anime so it is essentially invisible to the English-speaking fandom. I was far more surprised that I had never of heard of The Promised Neverland. That made me immediately buckle down and do some research.

The more I looked into The Promised Neverland the more I was surprised I had not heard at least a bit of buzz about it. Now it started in the middle of the pack rankings wise in Japan s really jumped up in popularity as the series has gone on. Carl from Ogiue Maniax described it has Death Note with tiny orphans. While it is hardly a perfect description it works perfectly as an elevator pitch. Demonic Seraph of the End or a cat and mouse version of Attack on Titan also work as broad overviews that sort of hint at what the series is about. Sufficed to say much like Death Note it feels a little different from the normal fare found in Shonen Jump. If you find that intriguing like I did then you definitely want to read the rest of this.

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