“Tokyo Tarareba Girls, Vol. 1” by Akiko Higashimura

Cover of titular bookBook: “Tokyo Tarareba Girls, Vol. 1” by Akiko Higashimura
Series: Tokyo Tarareba Girls #1
Published by Kodansha Comics on 12th June, 2018
Genres: Graphic novels, Manga, Romance, Slice of Life, Women’s fiction
Pages: 176 pages
Rating: 3/5⭐
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads

“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!

I have mixed feelings about Tokyo Tarareba Girls. 🤦

1. It’s a slow-burn.

Things didn’t get interesting until the last few pages of the first act. It sets the stage for how the other acts play out, which I don’t consider to be a good thing for such a story. It took the entire volume to reach what I presume to be the intended plot of the series—which I can’t share because spoiler—and while I understand that series need to build the world and set a precedent for subsequent works, I kept wanting this to just be over.

And then it was over.

And now, if I want to even see the real plot, or whatever, I have to get volume two. I guess I just feel a bit cheated.

2. I don’t feel the “ticking clock” dilemma.

When I was pressured into believing that my sole purpose in life was to be a breeder for a man, sure—I felt that “ticking clock” ish. But now, I’ve stopped caring about that, because I realized I only felt that way based on what other people believed. I don’t actually feel this way, and I never have. I just…went along with it, like a sheep.

The “ticking clock” worry is the plot of this first novel. In the afterword, the author explains that she doesn’t have this worry and was inspired by her friends’ comments about their need to find a husband because they wanted to get married and have kids already, the announcement that Tokyo would be hosting the 2020 Olympics spurring shock and such comments as those portrayed in Tokyo Tarareba Girls.

Still, this annoyed me to the extreme the entire time.

3. Rinko really annoys me.

I don’t like her. I think she’s shallow and whines too much. I think she’s a 33-year-old who expected to have things handed to her all her life. I despised reading her to bits and pieces. Only at the end of the fourth (last) act did I find myself being okay with her. She redeemed herself a bit, after all.

4. “What if! What if!”

When she gets drunk, Rinko’s food talks to her and says, “What if! What if!” this and that, and the first time it was funny. But then it happened again…and again…and again…and again. And I was over it.

Overall

I would have loved to see more development, even if this is just the pilot volume of the manga. The illustrations are unlike ones I’ve ever ever seen in a manga. As far as the josei genre, I read some translated Chinese webtoons—fan translations, though they’ve been authorized by the author to count as “official English” translations, so I’m not sure what to call them? Point is, it’s not a lot, so I don’t know if this is typical for the genre.

At this point, the sequel volume isn’t calling me. I could go without reading it and not feel a loss. I don’t have the same itch I do with Wotakoi to keep on with the series. It disappoints me, because I think the premise of the series overall, where the end of this first volume, is heading has potential. The twist with a particular character was predictable, but I’m interested in watching the relationship develop further.

I just don’t know if I will, because—again—there is no need/urgency/itch/whatever to continue on. For this reason, I give Tokyo Tarareba Girls 3/5 stars.

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