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Cigarette Girl

3.32  ·  Rating details ·  225 ratings  ·  41 reviews
Welcome to the quiet, evocative urban dramas of Masahiko Matsumoto, one of the leading lights of the Japanese alternative-comics movement known as "gekiga." Originally published in 1974, these eleven stories now form the first English-language collection of Matsumoto's mature work. His shy, uncertain heroes face broken hearts, changing families, money troubles, sexual anxi ...more
Paperback, 264 pages
Published May 24th 2016 by Top Shelf Productions (first published 1974)
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Average rating 3.32  · 
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Jan Philipzig
Cigarette Girl collects eleven whimsical, quietly odd urban dramas by alternative manga artist Masahiko Matsumoto--stories that were originally published in the early 1970s, and that are now Matsumoto's first to become available in English translation. The stories revolve around a bunch of peculiar, shy yet often surprisingly headstrong characters on the margins of society. My favorite story was the awkwardly romantic "A Scarlet Kiss," but the whole book introduced me to a side of early 70s Japa ...more
Dave Schaafsma
Jun 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: manga-gekiga
Most men lead lives of quiet desperation—Thoreau

This is for all the lonely people—America

Subdued slice-of-life manga gekiga, realist, stories that emerged in the seventies in part maybe in response to the early cartoony kiddie manga of manga godfather Tezuka. Tezuka evolved into more adult themes too during this period. As in: Can manga potentially be a useful form for addressing life as it is really is? This is the first collection of Matsumoto’s to be translated into English, thanks to Top Sh
Aug 03, 2018 added it
This is an important example of Gekiga (劇画), a Japanese genre distinction akin to the English usage of "graphic novel"to distinguish more (hypothetically) literary and adult works from the maligned "comic book". They tend to have more realistic subject matter dealing with adult life issues.

And now, back to manga.
Stewart Tame
Jun 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
As far as I can tell, this is the first collection of Matsumoto's work to appear in English. I hope it isn't the last, because I would love to read more. These stories first appeared in the early 70's. They are all self contained (okay, except for the chapters of "Happy-Chan") and feature urban settings with shy, uncertain heroes. Some are down on their luck. Some retain their optimism in spite of life's troubles. The closest English language equivalent I can think of is Seth's or Harvey Pekar's ...more
Sep 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: japan, fiction, art
Lower class slices of life from the mid-70's and prior, not erotic or violent and usually a bit funny with art that is not cutesy. Mostly hapless romantics and failures making their way through the world. The door to door condom saleswoman Happy-chan chapters were especially weirdly funny. The living conditions would seem unreal to an American, but lower end Japanese apartments used to be pretty terrible, like many parts of the US at one time. ...more
أحمد ناجي
Apr 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A very unique and amazing comics, reflecting the normal japanis life in 70s
Wayne McCoy
May 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
'Cigarette Girl' by Masahiko Matsumoto is a collection of manga from the 1970s. These stories come from the alternative comics movement known as "gekiga."

There are 11 stories collected here and they are about normal people and lives that don't feel fulfilled. One story follows an older lady as she tries to make her way as a condom salesperson. She ends up not being very good at sales, but pretty good at getting entangled in people's lives. In another story, a man buys cigarettes, not because he
Mar 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics
A master class in environmental storytelling!
Stop, don't pick up this book, don't even consider this volume, if your idea of manga is full of pretty girls or robots or gods. This book is not for you.

Mashiko wrote about the downtrodden, the poor, the forgotten. I have read other volumes of his, and they are sad, and very slice of life. They are not happy, with heroes fighting crime, or cooking, or playing sports. These people are selling condoms door to door, or flirting with the cigarette seller on the corner. Sometimes the stories end wit
May 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: f, net-g, graphic-novel
Has a sparse, abbreviated feel, even when the frames are filled with text and drawing. The story is somehow aloof, withdrawn, bitter, emotionally stilted and dispassionate all at the same time. Honestly, it reminds me of some people male humans of my acquaintance. The story is set in Tokyo, and reminded me so much of the minor, seemingly unimportant things that I somehow miss and do not miss from living in Japan. The little things that remind me of everything.

Cigarette Girl overwhelmed me with
Derek Royal
May 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
My first exposure to Matsumoto's work. I have read about him, but his actual manga, which he preferred to call "komaga." It's a shame that more of his work hasn't been translated into English. We discussed this book on the May episode of our manga series: ...more
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
“But gloves…don’t they have fingers?
I’m new to all this and fingers are really hard…but it’s okay because babies are always making a fist.
This is the sweater i knitted for Keisuke.
Wow, mom you’ve got some memory. “Don’t use that old wool” i say, “ just buy new stuff, you’re so stingy”
“When a mother is making things for her kid, she’s got all kids of hopes in her head” this one says…so there’s all sorts of dreams tied up in that wool she wants to pass on. Got a few screw loose, i think! *poke*
Chelsea Martinez
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a great collection of stories from the 1970s; as the front matter discusses, the everyday subject material was out of vogue at the time but depicts non-fantasy life in Japan so well (I am going to visit in March and it has given me a picture of how I might want to spend my time exploring cities and towns). I will admit that the right-to-left format still slows me down and possibly prevented me from getting some of the visual gags or story elements, but I just need to read more in this fo ...more
May 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: manga
I'm not sure that I totally understood everything going on here... unless it really was just going for a sort of "slice-of-life wherein most things are terrible" thing. Which is not an insult- just important to realize before diving in. I think the person who used the "quiet lives of desperation" reference really nailed it. There were moments of tenderness, vulnerability, and and so on; but most things are kind of lousy and it goes on. Not bad, and important for "the canon" but not something I'd ...more
Dec 06, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: library-books
via NYPL - The humor of these wry slice-of-lifers was either lost in translation (literally) or just not connecting with my sense of humor.
M.J. Walker
Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved the intimate details of everyday life here. Cute, bitter, confused, longing, funny. Comics/manga do that kind of thing very well.
This is a lovely book!
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I liked the stories about "normal" people trying to navigate their way in the dating world with the cultural norms and expectations of Japan. The plots were interesting and left an impression on me. ...more
Jan 03, 2020 rated it liked it
These stories don't seem to end well for the people in them, but that's romance in the real world, I guess. ...more
A Thompson
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
The artwork is limiting -- some characters only differentiated by shirt patterns.
Sep 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
Originally published in the 1970s, this book contains a series of stories featuring shy, uncertain characters. Quietly entertaining.
Laura (ローラ)
It took time for me to like this book. I nearly put it down. I just wasn't sure what to make of it. But, as the stories progressed they built on each other. Not so much as they were connected (although some were), just that it took time and effort for me to get into the rhythm of Matsumoto's writing. By the half-way point, I was completely hooked.

Matsumoto was a contemporary (And friend) to Yoshihiro Tatsumi, but unlike his contemporary his work is subtly lighthearted, and almost comical. It's
Paolo Simeone
Dec 19, 2016 rated it liked it
Not a great fan of this kind of narrative as well as not an enthusiast of this heavily emphasized cartoonish traits. Anyway a look to this piece of history and its particular view of Tokyo is somewhat fascinating and well deserved.
T.N Kaz
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a fantastic little collection for those looking for slice of life stories. I saw another reviewer refer to them as almost “indie movie” kind of stories, and I’d sort of agree. These are stories of people leading quiet lives in the countryside, no giant monsters or gods or apocalypses here, and was the main reason why I loved this book. Much like I’m not really into super hero comics (even though that’s what people automatically think when you mention comics in general), much in the same ...more
This is a very realistic portrayal of life in Japan in manga form. So if you're expecting something a bit more dressed up or even uplifting, probably don't pick this up. It's not bad, it's just very blunt. To the point, so to speak. It is very realistic basically. The stories are about the regular people and their problems, the downtrodden and ignored.

Long story short, I didn't really enjoy this. The art style was amusing and cute and in a way reminded me of Mohammad Nor Khalid, but I felt like
May 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: amazon-reviewed
Cigarette Girl by Mashiko Matsumoto is a free anthology of e-comics given to me by NetGalley that I read in early May, shortly before seeing my mom for an early Mother's Day.

Cigarette Girl describes a New Japan, a new person who observes and interacts with their world and other people with boredom, idleness, surprise, innate disgust, ongoing body issues, and surpressed desire.

Aug 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphic-manga
The stories jumped from one to another and the art wasn't very differentiated, so it was hard to keep up with what was going on. And the stories themselves were so ordinary that I really didn't want to take the time to reread and figure it out. Disappointing, because this came with such great reviews. ...more
Jun 26, 2016 rated it it was ok
I loved the illustrations of Tokyo but the plots were a bit too spare for me to fully understand what exactly was going on.
Sep 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: manga
Didn't really do too much for me, although I really loved Matsumoto's art style throughout. I'll provide a lengthier review soon. ...more
Oct 18, 2016 rated it it was ok
I tend to like a lot of weird old manga, but this one didn't make much of an impact. ...more
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