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  • Wisconsin
  • Joined Jun 14, 2019
  • 68 / M

Comic Girls

Jan 13, 2022

I had no misgivings that Comic Girls would rival anything in concept of manga creation as the classic Bakuman.  It was a pleasant enough piece with that grand paradox.  Comic Girls was a supreme shojo girls' power  entry into the world of anime, but it featured possibly the most pathetic personality found in that same world.  I am speaking of the character of Kaoruko Moeta, who is better known as (divine irony?) Kaos-chan (again, pronounced 'cows' if you remember to clip the 's' sound quickly).

But let's say that Kaoruko is a work in progress.  Needing tons of work and making just enough progress.

Kaoruko is part of a four girl ensemble of mangaka who have been privileged to live in the same dorm at their high school.  Kaoruko works at 4-panel manga, simple enough pieces which only needs a continuous supply of inspiration to crank off.  Koyume works at shojo manga targeting young girls, while Ruki draws a semi-pornographic romance shojo (Ruki admits that her experience with boys is abysmal and having a trace of pervi-ness helps).  Tsubasa shines in shounen battle-fantasy manga, and her tomboyish disposition shines through in all those chunni moments.  In short, four uniquely twisted persona in the same habitat (along with one creepy horror mangaka, Suzu, who has that eerie talent for appearing out of nowhere).

Ruki and Tsubasa are published professionals at first year high school, and Koyume is promising.  But Kaos-chan is extremely high-strung and immature.  Her storyboards are constantly rejected, and her artistic skill is next to lame.  But Kaos-chan plows on with little hope that she will ever be published.  Worse, the dormitory they have been living in will be condemned.  The other girls are organized and motivated and can make deadlines easily.  This leads to the girls able to leave for winter break early, leaving Kaos-chan to stew by herself to get out a second installment of a two-part piece ... proof that Kaos-chan can be a manga artist.  A week or insecurity, emotional breakdowns, and massive dips in self-confidence.  Can Kaoruko be that comic girl she dreamed of being?

The humor gets a touch ribald at times.  There is a tincture of yuri, even though all the girls talk about the boyfriends they might have had in their lives (official count of boys appearing in Comic Girls: zero.  We are talking shojo after all).  Bath scenes get close to lurid as surprise pop-ups of Koyume and Ruki (the more endowed mangaka) run amok.  The adults who frequent the series (dorm matron, teacher, manga editor) give little sage advice, and Kaoruko's best guidance in manga creation comes when she helps move materials out of the dormitory's storage room.  Inspiring comments inscribed on walls, but not a word of support from the ladies in the series.  Not a strong supporting cast.

The animation technique is a classic use of pastel coloration which accents the sweet character of the four girls, even as they tend to go emotional on you.  One symbol used is the presence of a butterfly flitting about in the opening theme, seen with Koyume, Ruki, and Tsubasa ... but not with Kaoruko as she is battling to make a crossing of a busy intersection.  A subtle clue that Kaoruko doesn't have the same 'right stuff' as her three dorm mates?  Such is suspected as you still cheer for Kaos-chan to get that first big break.  The music is up-beat enough to give you the good feeling that, whatever happens, we are watching four girls mature in that pivotal first year of high school.  But most of that maturation falls on Kaoruko’s shoulders, with a few ‘life lessons’ for the other girls.

There seems to be no call for a second season, though the last scene places you at the beginning of a new year.  Perhaps just enough of a hint that all will go well.  But knowing the combustibility of Kaoruko's personality ... why not?

8/10 story
8/10 animation
8/10 sound
9/10 characters
8.3/10 overall
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