"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!!
Tarareba means "what if" in Japan which is also what the young and handsome guy Key named the trio of Rinko, Kaori, and Koyuki, who are friends since they were in high school. These ladies always enjoy a girls' night out at Koyuki's restaurant and their current dilemma is to be able to get married before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Countries like South Korea and Japan is reportedly has a decline in the number of women who are getting married due to lack of housing and employment. I even saw from the local news before that the government is alarmed by this because it also results in low birth-rate especially in South Korea.
Through the story of this trio, this manga shows that a great number of women in Japan are career-driven and pushed marriage plans aside, and on how people treat and view women who are still single in their 30's. This treatment is not only limited to East Asian countries because it's also being experienced by other women, especially in other Asian countries.
Although there are hilarious parts in this manga, Rinko and her friends' tale is quite relatable. Also, I found out that there was a TV drama adaptation that was broadcasted last year so I immediately check it out. And as much as I enjoyed it, I still prefer the manga because it's funnier and more entertaining.
Just sampling some manga series here, but this one is fun, a kind of Bridget Jones' Diary or Sex in the City (two media events I only know about, never saw or read) in Tokyo. I know, I know it's 2019 and it's #metoo and feminism has taken yet another new turn, but this one focuses on Rinko at 33, working in an office and drinking most nights, suddenly realizing she is not married. At 23 she turned down an offer from a kind of disheveled guy, and came to regret it as he still works in her office and now has the hots for. . . well, that's for you to find out.
The women she drinks with are her age, and some guy in the bar mocks them, calls them "the what if" girls: what if I lost a couple pounds, what if used this make-up, bought that little black dress, and so on. Okay, I know, it's not political correct (and in an afterword she says not everyone at 33 sits around trying to scheme ways to get men to be attracted to them, but she is reflecting the experience of a lot of women she knew, and she's just having fun, cool it!), but the writing is really lively and fun. Maybe in future volumes it will take a more feminist turn, but hey, maybe not!
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, and the 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). 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 will 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.
I received this book from Netgalley in exchange of an honest review.
Wow, this was just so shitty that I wish I hadn't laid my eyes on it. I adore Akiko Higashimura's other manga: Princess Jellyfish (I should really get the rest of the volumes as I am super behind). I was kind of hoping that this one would be just as fun, just as wow. I was delighted when I spotted it on Netgalley as I have been hoping to read it for some time now.
Sorry if this review is a bit chaotic, I am really raging and fuming about all the crap. :|
However this was just the worst. Rinko? Terrible terrible character. All she and her friends do is drink through the night, complain about all the things (mostly men and sometimes work), make fun of things, whine, whine and whine. Oh and drink. Drink until fucking oblivion when Rinko sees talking food. Then again, maybe she doesn't necessarily need to be drunk for that, instead just be herself. That talking stuff was really not helping the terribleness of the manga. And whine she does. Oh boohoo, I need to find a husband, because it is totally not normal to be 30 and single/not married. /sarcasm *rolls her eyes* But instead of actually doing an effort to find a cute guy she constantly drinks (funnily, apparently her friends have various forms of alarms, it is that the author added that the manga as clarification, otherwise I would have thought that there was only the fourth alarm until about 113 pages in when we finally get another alarm kind, but which also means drink drink drink until death). And no, I am not against drinking, but every night? Just because you had a shitty day? Which is apparently all of the days given that I don't really get a clear image on how the days go by. Alcoholism ahoy?
I am sure if she actually did a bit of an effort, maybe went to other places than karaoke or the pub, and maybe act a little less over the top dumb (and drunk), she could easily find a good guy. She is strong-willed, looks cute/nice, is smart. I know that there is a Rinko there, under all the stupidity and idiocy, who is a good girl, and who could easily get a ton of cute guys. And maybe she should gain some confidence because she bases her No one wants me on two guys and oh yes, that one party she went to. Girl, please, do you really think that you will find your dream guy that fast? There are tons of fish in the ocean, and unless you have actually tried more of them I don't want to hear you whine about it. Plus she keeps going on and on about how she can't find a guy. Gee, did you even try?
There is one time that they actually make an effort, but I will give you one guess on what happened. *snorts*
Then there is Key. An asshole. Truly. He instantly judges the ladies when he comes across them in the bar, calls them names, and also makes some very judgemental opinions known. Not to mention that when Rinko has to add him to the tv show she wrote, he acts like a total jackass. Telling her that her writing is boring. Sure, he does show he cares... somewhere... but sorry, I just wouldn't want him and Rinko getting together.
Then there is that time the girls called all Japanese men pedo, especially hinting at Hayasaka-san falling for someone who is a fucking adult, but 12/13 years younger than him. What the actual hell? And they keep going on and on about it. Such hypocrisy, because I know for sure that if they had a chance? They would take it with a 19 year old guy.
Oh, and who the hell buys a 500 euro dress. o.0 I am sure guys are also happy with cheaper clothes, they probably won't even notice. :P
But the art was pretty fabulous, so at least this wasn't a total loss. Too bad about the rest though. I am not going to read this series further. Bah. I need some werewolf romance to get rid of the bad taste this one left.
This manga hit too close to home for my taste 😭 Ahah I loved it! I hadn't had so much fun reading a manga for a long time. It's nice to see a story targeted towards a more "mature" audience. I mean I love manga but I am not a teenager anymore so sometimes it's hard to relate to some of the stories... This was was just adorable and I can't wait to see what happens in the next volumes! I just feels so much for these characters... Hang on girl, you are going to have your happy ending, I am sure! 🥰
Well this book is problematic. I enjoyed the hell out of it while reading it, but it really is a setback for 1) feminism, with the main characters considering themselves failures for not being married and taking desperate measures to fix the situation, and 2) the #metoo movement, with two women consenting(?) to sexual relations with men in more powerful positions to further their careers. It is set in 2014, but feels like the '50s.
The author seemed to acknowledge some of this in her afterword, and I'm hoping there is a overall arc to the series that will prove redemptive.
This book, while very good, was also very depressing. I want to read the rest, if only with the hope that the ending is a positive one for the three friends who are no longer in their 20s. I was under the impression that women in Japan were more career than marriage oriented, however this manga is based off of the author's experiences with her own friends, so I guess I was mistaken in my beliefs.
I really enjoy taking a peek at the lives of others in cultures and locals different from my own. I may not be able to travel to exotic-to-me places, but books can bring some of the experience to me. And, even better, this is from the lenses of an inhabitant of that area, not my lenses interpreting what I see. So, in reality, the book really is better, lol!
The artwork was fun, the plot line, grim but with hope and the ending, cliffhanger territory. I definitely want to read more. 4 solid stars. YA on up I would say, considering that ending...
My thanks to NetGalley and Kodansha Comics for an eARC copy of this book to read and review.
I stopped reading shoujo manga a long time ago, save for a few titles that do not focus on high school romance (ex: Natsume's Book of Friends, Kaze Hikaru, etc.) Nowadays, I go for josei, which... is a bit of a weird genre. It encompasses whatever you graduate to after shoujo (read: young girl) manga. Yes, that means some of it is Fifty Shades of Grey stuff, and some of it is just better written stories with adult protagonists aimed at an older audience. In case you're wondering, this manga falls in the latter category.
Akiko Higashimura is a master of adult stories that hit a little too close too home when it comes to that feeling of uncertainty in new adulthood. As in her other big hit (Princess Jellyfish), Higashimura uses "Tokyo Tarareba Girls" to tackle themes like female adulthood and uncertainty in the face of societal expectations. Should women at age 30 be beautiful? Successful? Married? Should they have settled for something they didn't feel totally comfortable with in order to achieve these goals set by society? Do society's goals even matter? Is it childish to expect that golden standard--the happily-ever-after love story? Does love exist?
Higashimura knows how to write a story that packs real emotional punch without falling into melodrama. Her characters swing between telling themselves "hey, I decide what's best for me, not society!" and "I don't want to die alone, what if I should have dated that guy five years ago and what if I'm watching my life go by without doing anything about it?" And those are all real reactions, regardless of the role you're expected to fill in society (adjust as needed, of course).
I can't say whether the story contains any wish fulfillment yet, though there is some playful self-awareness where the main character is called out for writing a story where a younger, beautiful man falls in love with a 30-something-year-old woman... only for the main character to be propositioned by a *drumroll* younger, beautiful man. The only difference lies in that there is no love in this proposition. Not yet, anyway. It's about changing one's outlook, or rather, adopting an approach to life devoid of emotion where sexual activity is concerned. That's why I'm not sure if Higashimura will devolve into wish fulfillment (though she has no such wishes to fulfill, based on her own account of her life) or if she will develop this strange, kind of unhealthy beginning into a well-written and engaging story arc for her lost protagonist. If Higashimura's prior work is anything to go by, wish fulfillment is not on the menu, but raw, human realities are up for grabs.
I trust Higashimura to do her work justice. Recommended for anyone, regardless of prior manga-reading experience.
I don't know how I could enjoy this. The main character is constantly scolded (even by drunken hallucinations) for her horrible mistake of not getting a man earlier and the whole 'no happiness without a man' thing is just miserable. Oh, they should have just gotten married when they were young, even if they weren't in love or the guys they were dating were awful, just so they wouldn't be siiiiiingle -- barf. And I'm not someone who hates on romance -- I love romantic manga! But this just made me feel angry and unhappy.
Plus, I have a feeling that she's going to end up with the total jerk character, and just the thought of it makes me cringe.
So yeah, I'm not continuing with this series. I hated this book, but it gets 2 stars because the artwork was nice and I did like the main character and her besties, even if I did get frustrated with them.
Die Thematik ist super, aber die Erzählweise und die Protagonistin einfach nur nervi. Ich hatte selten Lust, den Manga in die Hand zu nehmen. Außerdem dreht sich die Handlung viel zu sehr im Kreis und das Selbstmitleid aller Figuren ist einfach nur anstrengend.
I cannot believe how little I liked this book. It's not because I disagree with the heroine's world-view (you must get a husband to be happy), although I do, but because the story did nothing to make me understand why she thought that. She's successful in her career, and yes, she's been driving herself crazy anxiously remembering past romantic screw-ups, but none of that seems like any reason to make herself so unhappy. When things start going sideways for her, instead of looking at what might actually be behind it, she just assumes it's her "advanced" age of 33 and starts lamenting about being manless again.
The series may evolve into Rinko coming to understand these things. Asshole Key may become a better character and a part of that. But I don't think I want to stick around to find out. This woman in her 30s has other books to read.
Oof. Oof. I've no other words for this right now that adequately sum up the impact of this manga but OOF. I don't even know if I can comment on the comedic aspects of this right now because there's just that much emotional impact from the OOF.
I've heard about Akiko Higashimura before and I always wanted to check out one or more of her works.
And Tokyo Tarareba Girls was the perfect choice for me because I'm in my 30s and this manga is about some 30 something women who have to deal with the fact they are becoming "too old" to get married. But it's so much more than that. It's a very funny and text-heavy slice of life type of manhwa and Akiko Higashimura knows how to tell stories and write not only female but also male characters.
Definitely looking forward to read this series. 5* for the best reasons.
Necesitaba leer un manga así, un josei que mostrase tres protagonistas adultas hablando de manera realista de sus problemas, ilusiones y preocupaciones. Me han encantado todos los personajes, tienen una personalidad muy bien definida y los diálogos son chispeantes. Totalmente fuera de mi zona de confort y una grata sorpresa. Ahora entiendo la fama que tiene Higashimura entre los lectores occidentales.
I actually didn't mind how obnoxious the ladies could get during their Four Alarm drinking sessions. The "what-if" banter and talks, while something I don't see the point of, are things that plenty of people focus on (not just women), especially while drinking their woes away. And I wouldn't have even minded following Rinko as she continues to grow and find herself (and hopefully some self awareness).
But I just couldn't get into the hyperfixation of not just *needing* to have a man to the point that Rinko really was sad about that missed opportunity with Hayasaka, despite not even being remotely interested in him and that shitty ring. Like,,, girl. Look at the effort he went through for you compared to Mami-chan - if a man wants to be with you, the effort will show. So why settle? Also, it seems like she wasn't really concerned with a relationship so much as a bragging right.
And again, if it was following Rinko (and her friends) as they eventually learn that you shouldn't have to settle in life and to carve out space for themselves, I would be interested - even in pursuing relationships she may not have considered previously (looking at potentially dating a much younger man when she was blatantly judging Hayasaka for dating the much younger Mami). But, I'm not really willing to invest in the potential headache that will be putting up with the various male characters that have featured so far. Speaking of,
I did not care for Key, who is clearly going to be some sort of romantic interest. I found him to be obnoxious at best, and just really fucking gross considering he has never once said anything nice to her (calling her and her friends "what-if" girls, the title of the manga), made her lose face in a work environment, negged her multiple times, and then propositioned her for the sake of career advancement. The first volume ends with the implication that she essentially went with it (dubious consent and all given that she was toasted).
I don't typically care for super douchey male leads but I'm genuinely confused as to whether this is a couple we're supposed to be rooting for?
I actually started this some time ago and stopped after a few pages. Picked it back up during a flight and... wow. This is a very heartfelt story about women-in-their-thirties who are realizing that their careers aren't going anywhere, they still aren't married, and they've spent the last ten years of their lives watching life go by from the sidelines and mocking everyone who actually participated. It hit very close to a lot of my own insecurities, though I'm only almost-23 (where I live, everyone my age is married with children. I'm practically an old maid!) I appreciate the strong female friendships in this, the points of comedy punctuated (or punctured) by cold hard reality, the acknowledgement that adulthood isn't about having all your shit together all the time but about figuring things out along the way and picking yourself up when you fall. Anyways, it's a good story and I want more of it for sure.
An interesting new (for English speakers) manga title, focusing on young women in their early to mid-30s, and the challenges facing them not only in terms of relationships, but also with their careers. There seems to be some tension between the story proper in this first volume and the "bonus comic" that ends the book. In the latter, Hagashimura expresses her rejection of any thoughts that a woman's worth should be wrapped up in men and marriage (and youth). However, the storyline in this first volume suggests otherwise. I'd be curious to see how future volumes play out in terms of tone and potential message.
"Tarareba" in the title is a Japanese pun that is either "What if?" or a portmanteau of a couple of pub snacks. Main character Rinko is berated by cartoony versions of these pub snacks as she not-very-successfully negotiates the post-30 dating scene in Omotesando, the Tokyo borough where the Olympics was held in 1968.
It's so refreshing to read a story that doesn't just assume everybody on earth is age 25 or below. Even though this fails hard at the Bechdel test, the narrative is self-aware, and there are plenty of laugh-worthy moments as these silly women go through their disastrous love lives.
Didn't enjoy the subject matter of this one quite as much as Princess Jellyfish. Too much emphasis on the worth of women as defined by men and marriage- couldn't relate. May read more to see where this goes.
¡Qué divertida! Hacía tiempo que no se me escapaba la risa en el bus (benditas mascarillas, jajaja...).
Ha sido un placer conocer a Rinko, una guionista de series para Internet de 33 años, soltera, que parece convencida de que quien no tiene pareja a su edad, alguna tara tiene... Se acaban de anunciar los Juegos Olímpicos de Tokyo 2020 y ella y sus amigas se empiezan a poner nerviosas porque para entonces tendrán ya 40 años y ninguna perspectiva de conseguir marido. Se pasan la vida quejándose en un bar, sin hacer realmente nada para salir de esa situación, hasta que un joven se harta de sus gritos y las llama "doñas ysi"... ¿Sabrán reaccionar a tiempo? ¿Conseguirán cambiar sus prioridades?
Iba con un poco de miedo, porque la venden como el "Sexo en Nueva York" de Tokyo... Pero sin haber visto la serie, creo que no es así para nada, a no ser que "Sexo en Nueva York" sea una parodia del concepto "buscar pareja para conseguir la felicidad".
Es una serie muy japonesa, en el sentido de que puedes ver muchos tópicos sobre su sociedad, sobre lo que se supone que tienen que hacer las mujeres (es decir, casarse para poder dejar de trabajar) y la autora convierte esa realidad en una divertida crítica. Que no os engañe la estética hortera, o el intento de venderla como una serie glamurosa: es gamberra (me parto cuando Rinko se pone malhablada), extremadamente exagerada y también muy interesante. Las reflexiones de Higashimura en las páginas finales valen oro y se queda en un punto que es imposible no querer saber cómo continuará...
Estoy supercontenta de haberle dado una oportunidad.
This review will be for the whole series; read at your own risk!
Read 6 volumes
My library recently added a Comics Plus subscription to their services so I've been adding loads of manga to my shelf to read! I took a chance on this one first and it's actually pretty good.
At times I felt that Rinko was super immature, especially for her age, but that's the point. She's physically 33, but still mentally in her 20's. She's not very nice or considerate and gets what's coming to her and I look forward to her growing as a person.
Edit 1/10/22: Things are getting more interesting with the new "lovers" for all the girls. I hope they find their happiness.
Edit 1/12/22: Hmm I'm not sure about the direction this is going in. I read the reviews of the last book and it sounds like it doesn't end satisfyingly. Comics Plus only has the 6 volumes, so I might call it here unless they get more. The series is okay, but it does seem to blame the women a lot when it's the men that are garbage. I really didn't like any of the characters either... it was overwhelmingly okay as a series.
So, I just sort of checked out a bunch of random first volumes of various mangas without actually reading anything about any of them beforehand, and this…was not really what I was expecting? I found the main characters pretty darned irritating, and the ending felt sort of unbelievable. I dunno. I think this is just super not my genre. But I guess if you’re really into Sex in the City or something, maybe it could work for you?
Malo pero de los malos. Ósea a mi hermana la prota se le acaba el mundo si no consigue marido. Y las mejores amigas en vez de apoyarla en el sentido de referirle que él mejor de los amores es el que se tiene uno mismo, ¡ah no! Le reafirman sus ideas erróneas sobre el tener pareja de forma muy superficial.
Gracias a este manga me recordó por que me dejó de gustar Sex and the City.
I didn't like most of this volume but the ending really surprised me. The ending is the only reason why I'm not rating it lower. I didn't like any of the characters. If I'm going to listen to middle aged women complaining I would prefer to watch Sex in the City than read this.
Lo que me he reído!! Y lo mejor, es el soplo de aire fresco que los personajes tengan treintaitantos. El principio me ha parecido divertidísimo. Luego, está la reflexión de la protagonista (borrachera mediante), cuando se da cuenta de que ya no es una niña y aún no ha cumplido con lo que la sociedad espera de ella. Tengo muchas ganas de ver cómo continúa.