Initial Thoughts: One of my favorite mangas is none other than Akiko Higashimura’s Princess Jellyfish (Kurajehime). When I first watched the anime version, I kept saying to the screen over and over “Tsukimi is just like me. I am just like Tsukimi.” We basically have the same personality, except that I have never drawn a jellyfish before. Now, Akiko Higashimura is back with her new manga, Tokyo Tarareba Girls, otherwise translated as Tokyo’s “what-if” women. I was so excited for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of the English translated version from Netgalley.
I spent all my time wondering ‘what if,’ then one day I woke up and I was 33.” She’s not that bad-looking, but before she knew it, Rinko was thirty-something and single. She wants to be married by the time the Tokyo Olympics roll around in six years, but…that might be easier said than done! The new series by Akiko Higashimura erupts with sharp opinions on girls and tons of laughs!!” – Goodreads
After being on a short hiatus for a month, it is nice to get back to reviewing books. When I came across Tokyo Tarareba Girls, I had just finished reading volume 1 of Princess Jellyfish. After reading both mangas, I would say that Princess Jellyfish is made for a young adult audience, and Tokyo Tarareba Girls is geared towards women in their twenties and thirties.
Ten years ago , at age twenty-three, Rinko went on a disastrous date with a shabbily dressed man who bought her a cheap ring. Since, then Rinko has given up trying to find a man to marry, and settled on becoming a well respected television writer. Now, she’s thirty-three and about to embark on writing the script for a new web series, and spends every weekend getting drunk with her equally single friends. When it is announced that Tokyo will host the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo, panic sets in on Rinko and her friends. Suddenly, Rinko is on the hunt for a husband and she vows to find a husband before the Olympics begin in six years. The man who gave her the cheap ring ten years before is now Rinko’s fashionably dressed (but still single) coworker. Could he be Rinko’s last chance at finding a husband?
Tokyo Tarareba Girls is a critique on modern women who believe they need to find a husband in order to be happy. Although many of the scenarios in this manga are exaggerated, the societal pressure upon women in their thirties to get married is very real, especially for Japanese culture. Rinko’s story is not supposed to be a message to all single 30-something women to find a husband. Instead, it pokes fun at reality and shows what could happen when women become desperate to find a husband. It is more of a social critique by painting society how it is and not how it should be.
Throughout the manga, Rinko goes out drinking with her two best friends. They are called the “what-if” women as they try to plan a future for themselves as married women. Instead, they keep returning to the pub every weekend and lament about their lives. As they drown their sorrows, Rinko begins to envision the pub snacks, liver and codfish, speaking to her and giving her advice. These two are the imaginary mascots of Rinko’s subconscious, pushing her towards desperation to meet a man. They tell her “What if! What if! If you let him get away you’ll be… alone!!! forever!!” As the story progresses, Rinko becomes even more desperate as she tries to navigate the rough roads of love at age thirty-three.
All in all, Tokyo Tarareba Girls was a great read. In spite of the fact that I am certainly not a thirty-three year old successful career woman, I could somehow connect with Rinko’s experiences. Although I enjoyed Princess Jellyfish more, I would still highly recommend Tokyo Tarareba Girls.
Tokyo Tarareba Girls by Akiko Higashimura is available now!
I received an advanced copy of the English translation of Tokyo Tarareba Girls volume 1 from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
About the Book
Title: Tokyo Tarareba Girls (volume 1) Author: Akiko Higashimura Translator: Steven LeCroy Year Published: 2014 (English translation: 2018) Series? Yes (Tokyo Tarareba Girls - 9 volumes) Pages: 176 Received: Netgalley Recommended? Yes
Until Next Time,