My thanks to NetGalley for a review copy of this one.
This was my very first manga read. I have watched some of the animated versions of course, Fushigi Yuugi (Curious Play), Nodame Cantabile, Emma, and Yatitake Japan, among them but had never really read any. So when I saw this on NetGalley, and the cover looked like fun, with a theme/plot something that could be interesting, I decided to give it a shot.
This is the first volume of the Manga, and the author is known for her other series, Princess Jellyfish (which makes an ‘appearance’ in the book as well–something I thought cute). The title roughly translates to the Tokyo ‘What-if’ Girls’. This one features three girls/women—Rinko (who is our ‘heroine’) and her friends Kaori and Koyuki who she has known from high school. Rinko is a reasonably successful screen writer for web series and has set up her own office, but remains single at 33 as do her two friends, and the three often spend their evenings getting very drunk, gorging on snacks (their favourites being milt with ponzu sauce and liver), and discussing ‘What-if’ we had done this or that scenarios. A young man who observes them at the bar quite often, tries to talk some sense into them but to no avail. Then Rinko’s career begins to take a downward turn as well. The book also has two interesting ‘food’ characters, the Codfish milt (tara) and Liver (reba) who appear to speak to Rinko, when she is under the influence, always raising the what-if, what-if, what-if…
So as I said, this was my first time actually reading manga, and when I started reading, for about 16–17 pages I read the… er… normal way, and wondered why things were not quite sitting right, why Rinko would graduate after she had become a successful writer, and only then remember that Manga was supposed to be read the other way (right–left), and then went straight back to the start and things began to finally make some sense 🙂
But anyway, as for the book itself, I liked the idea of the story, of characters who realise that a large part of their life seems to have passed them by, without quite realising where it all went, and the things you had thought you would do by now, haven’t really happened at all, and there seems no likelihood of them happening either. One can understand Rinko’s frustration, her need to vent (but then you also realise that only doing this is going to get you nowhere), but what I couldn’t connect with was her need to get herself so drunk every day that she ends up literally walking into things and hurting herself—and doesn’t seem to even stop to question this. Perhaps partly because of this, and also because of her near obsessive focus of needing to ‘find a husband’, I didn’t really take to Rinko or her friends very much. But I did enjoy the two ‘food’ characters and thought they were good fun. The explanations of local and cultural references at the end I also found really helpful. While this wasn’t a book I can say I loved or even liked very much, it was still an ok read, and I wouldn’t mind reading the next instalment to see how things pan out for them.