November 22, 2015
Arina Tanemura – Viz – 2015 – 2+ volumes
I was unbelievably excited about this. I’ve been waiting for an announcement for Tanemura’s new series, worried that her popularity was waning. She’s one of my all-time favorites, and I’d be heartbroken if we couldn’t get volumes in English anymore. When I heard about this series, which features a 31-year-old main character, I was SO EXCITED. I may or may not be a 31-year-old fan of Tanemura, stretching back about 15 years or so.
But… it’s definitely different from what I’ve read before. As Tanemura states in the back, it’s like one of her series, but they asked her to not do all the stuff that makes her stories unique. Use less screentone, light on the comedy, tone down the fashion, and make the main character a little less strong-willed. It kinda reads like a stripped-down magical girl story right now (sorta Full Moon-ish), except… a little off.
It’s pretty dark, and I did like that. Chikage is a straight arrow, and mostly keeps to herself. She decides to take a risk, and talk to the boy she had a crush on at their high school reunion. He had confessed his feelings for her at graduation, but she was too shy to admit she liked him back. So she decides her life is boring, and she could really use a boyfriend. Unfortunately, an old friend humiliates her at her reunion by loudly announcing Chikage is a 31-year-old virgin. At work the next day, she discovers she’s badmouth and reviled by coworkers, the worst offender being a woman she’d covered for in an earlier chapter. The final nail in the coffin (literally) is when she finds out the friend that humiliated her at the reunion is going out with the guy she had a crush on.
So Chikage tries to kill herself. She was popular in high school, but has done nothing with the past 15 or so years of her life. Luckily, she is stopped by another high school classmate, Tokita, who talks her out of killing herself and tells her that if she really wants to be a different person and do everything over again, she can take the experimental drug I-Dream. This reverse-ages her 15 years 6 hours a day. Because this is a manga, Chikage is immediately scouted as a model, then as an idol singer.
Part of me wants to shake Chikage really hard (she’s definitely meek, and not a lot like Tanemura’s usual), but part of me likes the idea of a magical girl series for adults. Chikage seems like a good fit for this kind of story, because… while it’s not something I can wrap my head around, there are plenty of people who feel that their glory days are in high school. I don’t know that it necessarily translates to “everything since then has been a waste,” but it’s an interesting idea, and I’m curious to see how the two parts of Chikage’s life reconcile themselves. I’d love to see this make Chikage a stronger adult.
The only thing I don’t like about it is that there’s an implied romance between Hibiki, a fellow male idol, and 15-year-old Chikage. Happily, this crush is mostly one-way on Hibiki’s end, and part of my little black soul is waiting for the inevitable scene where Chikage has to break his heart. Part of me worries about the fact that Hibiki looks like Chikage’s high school crush… but she seems mostly oblivious right now, and adult Tokita is crushing much harder, so she does have a candidate elsewhere (who she is also oblivious to). I’m rooting very hard for Tokita, because I find Hibiki/Chikage a little creepy.
It wasn’t quite what I had imagined, but I like the idea of Tanemura trying something new, and I’d like to see where this goes, as a sort of not-Tanemura story. Alas, there’s only one more volume in Japan right now (although a third is coming out in December), so this may be a slow one. I hope we get Neko to Watashi no Kinyoubi soon! We can read that while we’re waiting.