Saturday, December 29, 2018

Tomo-chan is a Girl! volume 1 won me over (Manga Review)

Tomo and Jun
I started reading "Tomo-chan is a Girl!" volume 1 (Seven Seas) on a whim. I had no idea it was a 4-koma series when I started. I have never really liked 4-koma, even though two of my favorite anime are based on ones in that format (Sakura Trick and One Week Friends). I kept thinking I was going to stop reading volume 1, and certainly not buy the next volumes, but something strange happened, and I actually found myself really liking the series and will probably buy at least the next one to see if I keep liking it. Pleasant surprise.

Tomo-chan is a Girl! is the story of Tomo, a rough and tumble girl who has been best friends with Jun since they were little. At first, before going to school, Jun assumed Tomo was another boy his age. Over the years, from elementary, though to high-school, they have stayed close. Throughout, Tomo continues to beat people up (her family runs a dojo) and otherwise not act the part of a traditional girl. But as Tomo got older, she realized she loves Jun. Upon confessing to him, he was utterly oblivious to what she meant by it, thinking it was a total brotherly love. That opens up the comedy of Tomo and Jun, destined to be together, if they can only get out of their own way.

I suppose there is some plot, but being a 4-koma, it's more like reading the sunday comics, each page has it's punch-line, and they mostly consist of Jun not getting that Tomo is a girl and how his interactions make her feel or how clueless Tomo is about all the "boyish" things she does that keep Jun from realizing his own feelings for her.

Both leads are likable, but the star is Tomo's friend Gundou. She's the straightman that every good comedy series needs. But she's also a jerk in the most likable of ways. She antagonizes Jun, teases Tomo lovingly, and sets them both up for great punchlines. It is also clear that she does want the two of them to end up together in the end.

The art is okay. Sometimes it's clean and clear, but other times the lines seem a bit heavy (almost as if it was drawn smaller and enlarged) - some of this may be the reproduction and not the original art. Overall the art is pretty basic, and that may be due to the constraints of a 4-koma layout. It's nothing special, but the character Tomo is drawn with such great expressions and body language that it ends up working. The characters are all discernible from each other which is helpful, some series I can't keep track of people or they aren't unique enough to tell apart, so that much is good. Overall the art is nothing special, but it's decent.

If you like broad comedy, and you like high-school romance, then you'll probably really like this volume. It ended up endearing itself to me enough that I'm going to try volume 2. I'm going to give this volume a 7/10 due to being surprisingly, and unexpectedly, good - somehow, Tomo (the character) endeared herself to me that I'm curious where it will go from here.


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