Arigatou

Alt title: Thank You

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hoesmad1's avatar
Aug 18, 2018

THIS REVIEW HAS SPOILERS

I can't believe this manga has only a 3 star rating, honestly. It deserves a lot more of praise. 

If you're planning to read Arigatou, you have to think you're not in for something cute. The sinopsis means it when it says this manga is depressing and, by all means, presents sexual violence — mostly, during the first "arc". The story, however, doesn't romanticize it or any of the rest of the sexual stuff shown — like when a characters's nude photos are leaked, or when a group of bullies use their power to abuse a side character. 

There goes the review!

STORY

The sinopsis resumes everything. A dysfunctional family coping with the fact that no, they're not as bonded with each other as they were in the past. Lonely, lost in life, sticking to their traditional beliefs, failing to communicate, these family members need to try and live with each other until their breaking point — which is the ending of this tale, when they break apart and go to live life as they can, separated. We see small stories inside this universe, like Takako going to school, her sister coping with the abuse she has gone through, their mother finding a level of freedom outside of the family's house, their father repeatedly failing at trying to "fix" his own broken family, all of this leading to the end. 

The storyline is quite solid for a rather simple premise. You can see why I'm giving it a 9 at the "Why not a 10?" section.

ART

This section is nothing special and based out of taste.

The art strikes me like a slap every chapter. I love Arigatou's catch at that 90's style so much and would say that the highlights were the chapters's cover art, specially the ones that showed Takako in a more natural state, out of the small universe the story got us in. 

Like this one, for Chapter 9 : Making a Bento.

At the beginning, the style might be a little bootleg. I get it. But it just gets progressively better every chapter and, again, I'm a complete sucker for 90's manga style. 

CHARACTERS

Pretty much my favorite part of this damn manga.

Arigatou has rock-solid and almost realistic character construction. The protagonist, her family, side characters, pretty much everyone. Takako, the rebelious tomboy teen that learned to be on her own because of her father's ausence; Akiko, her sister, confused, trying to just go with the flow and accept everything her father does (and sometimes, snapping out of this behaviour); their alcoholic mother, lonely and abandoned by her husband, who finds happiness and freedom in risky business, out of her marriage; their father, overworking, stubborn and a complete failure at understanding his own family. All characters's struggles are rather transparent as the manga goes, maybe except for Akiko's, and the artist doesn't feel the need to rub everything at our faces (most of the time).

Going in with the mindset of someone who understands how gestures, commentaries and certain acts can also show what a character feels, I was kind of amazed to see that the comedy tones of this manga and sometimes overexagerated personality traits actually did shine a light into the characters's flaws, struggles and qualities. 

WHY NOT A 10? 

As much as I absolutely love this manga... 

The first chapters where, kind of, the villains to me. 

  • The first arc didn't stroke me well. Akiko's extreme abuse was thrown around and kind of confusing, only to be properly treated as, you know, abuse, later in the story. Even if I do think this must be intentional and part of her as a character, it could have worked better in other way.
  • This arc in particular also felt dragged for too much time. I believe it, as long as other arcs, which were also too long or too short, could have been better developed and eay more immersive.
  • The conflicts wandering around these chapters were just... bad. I can't see them as well written in any way. The satirical tone, the quick explanations, everything didn't felt attractive to me as a reader. 

As for the art...

And characters, for bonus points:

  • Ichiro's sudden decision to kill his daughter. Boy, that sure did completely slaughter the atmosphere the manga had built to this point. Yeah, I get it, the father was a lunatic, and the intent of this scene was to be comical and exaggerated (as much as a lot of other appearances from the father), but the moment it happens, the way it happens, the way it affects the characters after... If I could erase one scene from this story, with the condition to not erase anything plot-relevant, I would choose this scene in the blink of an eye, given how unnecessary and irrelevant it turns out to be. 
  • Takako moving to Bug's house. Really? His family simply accepted her, even if they never met or know anything about her, aside from the conflicts involving their child? It would make so much more sense to me if she went to live with her sisterMaybe, if her relationship with Bug had more development and screentime, it would be fine — however, I don't know what the author's intentions were with these two. Develop a romance? A friendship? I have no idea. Takako clearly doesn't give a shit about romance, and at maximum, developed a soft spot with Bug. If it was supposed to be a romance and feel logical to the reader, it failed; if not, still doesn't make sense. 

That's it. I'm not the type to do reviews, because of my fear of expressing opinions, but I had to do it with Arigatou. I hope this was useful in any way!

9/10 story
9.5/10 art
9.5/10 characters
9.3/10 overall