A few years ago, I asked myself if we’ll ever get another series about characters making manga. Series like Bakuman and Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun are among some of the most entertaining anime I’ve seen that explored such ideas. In recent years, we had series about cute girls making games like New Game! or even characters working in the anime industry like Shirobako. Now it’s 2018 and we got Comic Girls.
I’ll say right off the bat that the series is about as simple as it sounds. It’s an anime that explores the daily life misadventures of a group of female mangaka. For a series that
deals with such a simple premise, the way it executes its storytelling is just as effective. At its core, the show uses its character cast to do the storytelling. Every day is an adventure of its own as we see how these characters interact and behave. In essence, the series provides the opportunity to showcase manga making in a very casual, everyday life environment.
Our main characters consists of a group of young girls of similar age. They have nicknames and all have them different preferences in their manga tastes. For instance, Koyume prefer shoujo manga compared to other genres. Ruki loves ecchi and fan service in her work. Tsubasa’s passion for shounen manga is also reflected in personality. Then, there’s Kaoruko Moeta (Kaos) who just wants to improve herself as a manga artist after having her work met with overwhelming negative reception. The main selling point is how these characters are motivated to do what they love through their connections with each other.
As a fan of the manga, the adaptation is relatively faithful and brings the mood of the series to life. The lighthearted tone of every episode is what you can expect from most “cute girls doing cute things” shows. Now I’ll be honest with you. If this type of show isn’t what you’re familiar with or a fan of, then it may be hard to enjoy this. There’s not much character development despite the series exploring a life journey of these young mangaka. Storytelling on most parts is very simple and doesn’t get any complicated as time goes on. Every episode has a repetitive nature and it feels like if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. There are some characters the series brings in that occasionally spark more popcorn entertainment such as horror mangaka Suzu Fuura, Tsubasa’s shounen style cosplays, and various misunderstandings. However, don’t expect this series to be one that’s dramatic or even competitive. In fact, the show is hardly about competition when it comes to manga craft but instead about characters working to improve themselves. The comedy is presented through reactions, character interactions, characters’ behaviors. There’s not much characterization although we do see some of the family backgrounds of the cast. In retrospect, these characters are pretty easy to understand along with the show itself.
Nexus is a studio that’s probably known for its 2015’s anime adaptation, Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry. While this series is nowhere near on that level of fan service, it still contains fan service and skinship. It’s mainly mild and nothing too distracting. In some places, it’s necessary as one of the mangaka wants to improve her skill of making “teenage love” manga. On a technical level, the series looks crisp with colorful quality and cute character designs. The series never hides Kao’s shyness or Tsubasa’s tomboy tendencies. Suzu Fuura and her mischievous personality is also animated with such intention. The series’ character designs may also be misleading at times as such characters look older than they seem. Luckily, it doesn’t hold them back as every characters’ voice fits well with their persona. The theme songs for the show overall also contains the style of what slice of life should be with mangaka theatrics.
Comic Girls, the series about mangaka striving to improve their craft did what it needed to do and I didn’t expect anything more. It’s a simple series that capitalized on the chance to explore mangaka lifestyle. It succeeds doing that through the storytelling and can even occasionally surprise you. But if you’re not a fan of this type of series, then it may be hard to look back and enjoy what it is. Still, give the show a chance and see what awaits you on the other side.
Please note that this review is intended to be read by those that have finished watching Comic Girls and while care has been taken to minimize story related spoilers there may still be spoilers within character analysis. You have been warned.
Cute Girls learning to overcome their problems and flourish as true manga artists by bonding, having fun and living the life of a high school girl as they confront their struggles together as friends and fellow professionals.
Based off a popular 4 panel manga of the same name Comic Girls is a comedy and slice of life anime that gives us the rare opportunity
to see what the life of an aspiring manga artist is like and the kind of struggles that they have to face as they try to balance their personal lives with their professional careers. The first episode of the series made a pretty good impression on me and did a great job of hooking me as I was curious to see whether Kao’s would be able to fit in a dorm and live alongside fellow manga artists her age and learn from them to save her career as a manga artist over a period of just one year. I'm glad that I decided to watch the series right to the end as it was a series that I really enjoyed watching.
Taking place in modern day Japan the overall story of Comic Girls follows the life of Kaoruko Moeta a shy and timid high school girl and aspiring manga artist that thanks to a series of disastrous manga sales is forced to attend a well-known manga dorm for female manga artists in an effort to improve her manga drawing skills. At the dorm, she meets a number of fellow manga artists who while working in different genres of manga all share a passion for manga that Kao’s can relate too. These include the kind and older sister like Ruki, the energetic and positive Koyume, the tomboyish but confident Tsubasa and the quiet and eccentric but surprisingly understanding Fura. As Kaoruko lives and interacts with this colourful cast at the dorm and at school Kaoruko would soon learn that being a manga artist is not just about trying to imagine an idea that you have never encountered or experienced before but rather its about drawing in ideas that you yourself have enjoyed doing with the friends that you have befriended and bonded with. One cannot draw a manga until they have experienced the scenes that they want to draw with their friends.
Kaoruko played by new seiyuu Hikaru Akao in her first main role as a seiyuu is one of the main characters of the series and is the series main protagonist. A high school girl and an aspiring manga artist at the beginning of the series Kaoruko better known as her pen name Kaos was a nervous and mentally fragile girl that had very low self-esteem and was very weak to any form of pressure. While passionate towards manga and a relatively hard worker Kaos was hampered greatly by the fact that she has yet to experience the scenes that she draws in her manga panels which ended up causing quite the negative feedback from her readers as to them her scenes were unrealistic. As a result of this Kaos was given the opportunity to move to a female dorm designed specifically to allow female manga artists to focus and improve their skills. As a result of her low self-esteem and nervousness, Kaos at the beginning of the series had some trouble fitting in at the dorm and had great trouble in befriending her fellow manga artists who were the same age as she was due to the fact that until now few people had been nice to her. In line with this fear is Kao’s belief that she is merely a background character when compared to the results that have been secured by others the same age as her.
As the series goes on, however, Kao's personality gradually changes as a result of her new-found friendships and bonds with her fellow manga artists and dorm mates. As a result of being able to not just form friendships but also experience the very actions that she will need to draw within her manga panels Kaos was able to realise that no manga artist is ever alone and that the best way to improve your skills as a manga artist is to first improve yourself and secondly experience the very events that you are drawing into your manga by living a life as an actual high school girl. While still nervous and timid to a degree Kaos becomes determined to change herself and live the life that she had been missing and draw what she experiences into her manga. While Kaos in the beginning of the series was hesitant about helping her seniors within the dorm as a result of her determination to improve herself this fear of the unknown gradually vanishes and she becomes more earnest and willing to help others as well as developing an interest into finding out why someone is acting the way that they are with this latter one being more prevalent in her interactions with the dorms resident horror manga artist Fura. The character of Kaos I felt was an interesting character that was both well designed and developed. Seeing Kaos transform from a quiet and meek girl that knew nothing about what an actual high school girl’s life is like to one that was determined to live the life of one and use the memories that she makes with her friends to improve her skills as a manga artist I thought was one of the best things about her character. I felt that her seiyuu Hikaru Akao really did an excellent job of portraying the character of Kaos.
Ruki voiced by veteran seiyuu Saori Oonishi of Food wars and Clockwork planet fame is one of the main characters of the series and is one of Kao’s fellow dorm mates. A high school freshman and classmate of Kaos Ruki, unlike Kaos, is an established manga artist with her genre being teens love. A confident, imaginative and positive young woman Ruki is someone that easily fits the image of an older sister being not just kind and considerate towards her juniors but also perceptive enough to notice when something is bothering them. As an experienced manga artist Ruki knows very well the types of challenges that aspiring manga artists face as they try to break into the industry and make their mark on it and as a result while hardworking and earnest tries hard to create the perfect balance between her personal life and her pro career all the while watching over and encouraging her kohai’s.
As the series goes on and as Ruki’s character gets expanded upon it can be seen that Ruki also has a fair share of struggles that she has to deal with. While an experienced manga artist that has already established her place within the manga industry it can be seen that Ruki has mixed feelings about this. While happy that she has managed to establish a career in a field that she is interested in it can be seen that Ruki is somewhat embarrassed about the way people see her due to the fact that she’s an ero manga artist which isn’t helped by the fact that for whatever reason people often see her actions as being of the lewd nature even if she did not mean it to be so. A fact that I felt was hilarious as it contrasted with Ruki’s usually composed attitude. In line with this is Ruki’s complex in that she is conscious of the fact that her fans would imagine her as someone that is sexy and mature when she herself is not. As a result of this fear Ruki is shown to be wary of meeting new people and would go to great lengths to stop people from seeing her work on her manga due to both her embarrassment at having others see her work and at seeing the doubts that she has regarding whether this genre is really the one that she wants to be known for. As a result of these fears Ruki was shown to have a very deep fear of book signings as she was conscious of the reactions of her fans to her actual physical appearance an aspect of her that I really liked as it showed that no matter how skilled one was at writing and drawing the person behind that can be someone that’s far from what one can imagine their favourite author to be. As a character, I felt that Ruki was one that was well designed and developed with her many fears and embarrassments contrasting well with her usual calm and mature self. The older sister like personality that she exhibited I felt helped greatly in allowing her juniors to overcome the fear and struggles that they faced in making their first marks on their careers. I felt that her seiyuu Saori Oonishi really did an excellent job at portraying the character of Ruki.
Tsubasa voiced by veteran seiyuu singer Rie Takahashi of Re Zero and Konosuba fame is one of the main characters of the series and is one of Kao’s fellow dorm mates. A high school freshman and a classmate of Kaos Tsubasa is unlike Kaos and Koyume an established manga artist with her speciality being a Shonen manga artist. A hardworking, positive and kind person by nature Tsubasa is someone that while quiet is someone that is friendly and kind to everyone that she meets whether they are juniors or adults. A confident and steadfast person by nature Tsubasa on initial appearance can easily be mistaken for a boy due to the fact that she insists on adapting the guise of a tomboy to hide her true identity from her friends and schoolmates. As a result of this Tsubasa is seen by many of her fellow schoolmates as someone that is cool, focused and calm something that she really appreciates as she feels that her normal self does not fit the image of her chosen speciality. While being less skilled with words than her fellow manga artist Ruki Tsubasa is shown to be someone that doesn’t mince words and is someone that can be quite direct with her praise and is always willing to offer her honest opinion on something when asked for advice by others. Despite being only a high school girl Tsubasa is shown to be someone that’s mature for her age and can easily take control of situations easily someone that I really like about her character.
As the series goes on Tsubasa’s personality and character starts to gradually change as she interacts with her friends and fellow manga artists. While a quiet person by nature as the series goes on it can be seen that Tsubasa is someone that can get really focused into her work to the point where she can actually transform into the main character of her manga via the use of cosplay a fact that I found to be really hilarious. While having a well known and popular series can often make people arrogant this is not true for Tsubasa who seems to be fine with just being able to draw manga to her heart's content showing how humble she is regarding her profession. This aspect of her goes well with Tsubasa’s core belief that only by drawing the best you can, can you get closer to the idea that you want. A prominent trait of Tsubasa’s character is her insistence on adopting a tomboy persona that stems from the belief that her true appearance and the one that she adapts when going back home is unsuitable and not fitting the image of her speciality. While very determined to maintain her cool and mature tomboyish side to her fans and friends this feeling gradually changes as a result of Koyume’s actions that cause her to regain some of her girly spirit. The character of Tsubasa I felt was an interesting one that was both well designed and developed with the constant transformation into her manga’s main character via the use of cosplay and the hilarity that this ensures being one of the best aspects of her character. Additionally, the struggle that Tsubasa has with her family and the decision to adopt an entirely new persona to allow her to better fit in her manga speciality I felt was well done and showed how determined Tsubasa was to make a name for herself in the manga world with or without her family’s support. I felt that her seiyuu Rie Takahashi really did an excellent job at portraying the character of Tsubasa.
Koyume voiced by veteran seiyuu Kaede Hondo of Battle Girls High school and Girlish Number fame is one of the main characters of the series and is one of Kao’s fellow dorm mates. A high school freshman and schoolmate of Kaos Koyume like Kaos is an aspiring manga artist that while new already has a lot of experience in the industry due to her willingness to learn. A carefree, confident and positive girl by nature Koyume is someone that can freely fit into any environment that she enters whether it’s a new school or a new dorm due to her positive, friendly and caring nature. An intelligent and fast thinking person by nature Koyume though still a new artist approaches her work as a shojo manga artist with both determination and passion aspiring to be a successful manga artist within the field like her fellow dorm mates. While having a vivid imagination Koyume at the beginning of the series had great trouble drawing material for her manga due to a lack of knowledge on romance matters. As a result of this at the beginning of the series, she like Kaos were in a state where they were forced to find new inspiration to improve their skills.
As the series goes on and Koyume’s character and personality gets expanded upon it can be seen that while confident and positive Koyume is someone that can easily get embarrassed and lose her normal composure which is best shown when discussing matters related to romance and her relationship and admiration of her fellow manga artist and friend Tsubasa. This latter interest in Tsubasa as a romantic partner is also used as a running gag within the series as Koyume has a habit of picturing her as the male in her manga stories to her embarrassment and the amusement of her friends. While possessing boundless optimism and faith in her skills as a manga artist Koyume can become discouraged if people don’t like her work but this latter part is offset by the fact that her happy and go lucky attitude always enables her to return back from the brink more energised and determined than before. The character of Koyume I felt was an interesting character that was both well designed and developed with her ability to stay positive and energetic at all times to offset Kao's sudden mood swings being the best aspects of her character. Additionally, her ability to come up with random ideas and expand them into crazy scenarios I thought was something that matched well with her personality. Her romantic interest into Tsubasa was also an aspect that I liked as it allowed us to see Koyume in a rare sight of panicking in embarrassment of having a secret found out. I felt that her seiyuu Kaede Hondo did an excellent job at portraying the character of Koyume.
Suzu Fura voiced by veteran seiyuu Reina Ueda of Relife fame is one of the main support characters of the series. A fellow manga artist and dorm mate of the girls Suzu Fura who is often called Fura sensei by the girls due to her experience is a quiet, isolated and awkward person by nature that seemingly prefers to stay within her room instead of socialising with her fellow dorm mates. A horror manga artist by trade Fura due to her awkwardness and lack of social skills is someone that has few friends in her life due to her scary nature that causes people to avoid her. As a result of this Fura often spends long periods of time in isolation creating material for her manga. As a result of this isolation, her first meeting with Kaos was about as much as a shock for her as it was for Kaos. In line with her isolation and her speciality as a horror manga artist Fura adapts a very distinctive physical appearance of white clothing that contrasts well with her dark hair that covers her eyes. An outfit that I thought suits both her chosen field and her personality of loving to hear others scream in terror really well.
As the series goes on and Fura’s personality and character gets expanded upon it can be seen that Fura while a scary and somewhat unsettling person to be near is actually someone that is incredibly lonely due to her lack of friends. As a result of this loneliness Fura often compensates by acting overly friendly with people that she knows trying hard to savour the warmth that comes from being near people that she’s familiar with which is best shown in the strong bonds that she manages to establish with Kaos despite the latter’s initial fear of her. As a result of her awkwardness around people, it can be seen that Fura has a great deal of difficulty interacting with people that she’s not familiar with and as a result can easily misunderstand their actions. Because of this personality, Fura is someone that is unused to people being kind to her and as a result, she holds people that do so in very high regard counting them as one of her dear friends. When relaxed and in an environment that suits her though it can be seen that Fura reverts back to her normal personality that she keeps hidden behind her scary one a personality that contrasts a great deal with her usual one. Instead of being scary and awkward around people in this personality Fura is instead a kind, attentive and patient person that can be surprisingly talkative and is a very capable teacher that uses both jokes and scares to allow her students to concentrate more on their work a far cry from her default persona. As a character, I felt that the character of Fura was an interesting one that was both well designed and developed with the contrast between her two personalities and her gradual opening of her heart to others as she bonds with and befriends her fellow manga artists and dorm mates being the best aspects of her character. I felt that her seiyuu Reina Ueda really did a fantastic job of portraying the character of Fura.
Animation wise I thought that the dorm that the main cast live and work at and the school that they attend as students were very well designed and did a great job of showing that a manga artist is able to work from anywhere as long as they have the creative resources that they need to create their work. The character designs for the characters whether for the main cast or the supporting cast I felt was well designed and matched well with the personalities of each character. The inclusion of manga setting scenes to illustrate individual scenes within the anime I thought was also well designed and matched well with the theme of manga creation. In terms of music, I really liked the series OST as it matched well with the many different emotions and feelings that the cast experience in each scene. The opening and ending themes for the series which was Memories and Namida wa Misenai which was sung by the series main cast I felt was pretty good with both conveying a cheerful and positive mood to the listener and matching well with the series main theme. In terms of voice acting, I felt that each member of the voice cast was able to do an excellent job of portraying their assigned characters. In particular, I feel that Hikaru Akao, Saori Oonishi, Rie Takahashi, Kaede Hondo and Reina Ueda who portrayed the characters of Kaos, Ruki, Tsubasa, Koyume and Fura all deserve special praise as I felt that they all did a fantastic job at portraying their assigned characters. In addition, though I didn’t cover the members of the supporting cast I also felt that Aya Endo, Minami Tsuda and Ayaka Nanase who portrayed the characters of Ririka the dorms matron, Mayu Kao's editor and Miharu who was the homeroom teacher of Kao's class all deserve special mention as I felt that they did an excellent job of supporting the main cast in this series.
Overall Comic girls was a series that I really enjoyed watching and had among its strong points an interesting premise, an excellent story, interesting and well-developed characters, strong voice acting and its inclusion of real-world issues into the professional lives of the girls.
The premise of the show I felt was an interesting one as unlike seiyuu’s and the making of anime the creation of manga and what the life of a manga artist actually is like is something that is largely unknown to us. Unlike anime and seiyuu’s the age of a manga artist is hard to ascertain because as human beings our skills and our innate talents at a particular action manifest at different times and as a result it’s perhaps not unusual to have talented manga artists to actually be high school freshman instead of say young adults that had just entered society. However, as a result of this unique premise of having the main cast as high school girls, we are also presented with an opportunity to see the types of problems that both manga artists and teenagers such as the members of the main cast face. This combination of having the main cast experience not just the problems that they face in their professional lives such as the dreaded slump that many a manga artist and light novel author has felt as well as more personal problems like being afraid of attending book signings for your work due to being afraid of what your fans would feel at seeing your actual physical appearance I felt was well done as it allowed us to see the kind of problems both personal and professional that manga artists can feel as they both start and maintain their careers in the field of manga.
The overall story of the show I felt was also a strong point of the series as not only did it allow us to see the members of the main cast develop both as individuals and as manga artists but also allow us to see them doing so as they work alongside each other, bond with each other, have fun together and overcome problems together while at the same time not forgetting that at the end of the day they while professionals in their own right are still high school girls that are just at the beginning of their lives. Paired with this story is the strong chemistry that is established between Kaos and not just with her fellow manga artists but also with the many support staff that helps them in their everyday lives whether as high school students or as manga professionals. This chemistry when paired with the story is what really makes the story stand out as this allows us to see Kaos and the girls gradually mature as the series goes on both as individuals and as manga artists as they incorporate what they had learned from bonding with their friends into their work and improve not only themselves but also the work that they so cherish. One of the main themes of the series is, of course, the act of overcoming doubts and improving yourself to break your limits a theme that I felt was really appropriate for the series and handled really well within the series through the evolution of Kaos and the girls not just as manga artists but as individuals as well. Overall Comic girls was a series that I really enjoyed with its premise, story and the chemistry between its cast being the highlight of the series. As a final score, I would say that Comic girls would easily deserve a final score of 10/10 and is easily one of the best animes i seen this season.
The cute girls genre recieves a fantastic addition with Comic Girls, an anime I definitely didn't expect to be as good as it ended up being.
This story is focused on a group of girls who love manga and either draw one professionally, or are trying to get a series published. This proves to be difficult for our lovable protagonist, Kaos, who honestly is just awful at it, and goes to live in a dormitory for female manga artists where she meets the other main characters of the series, hopefully getting inspiration from them.
Comic Girls uses the setting really well to provide a fantastic comedy both
via the characters and the use of the manga elements. This anime doesn't focus on the profession like series as Bakuman or Shirobako do, but it's still quite informative and, most importantly, succeeds at using it for the comedic value it wants.
There are four main characters in this story: our protagonist, Kaoruko Moeta (pen-name Kaos), who is an absurdly likeable and quite relatable girl who seems to be in constant state of panic, but is also a hard worker that you will want to adopt and protect, Tsubasa, a tomboyish girl who draws shounen manga and puts herself really seriously in the mind of the characters she creates, Ruki, who loves drawing cute things but ended up discovering her true skills at drawing lewd stuff instead to her embarassment, and Koyume, a cheerful shoujo manga artist and doughnut devourer who can't draw guys. Their personalities balance well and make for a lot of entertaining situations, and together with fantastic (and also quite touching at times) episodes focused on each character I ended up very attached to them. The number of secondary characters is pretty short but they do well when they appear and add to the fun that comes from this anime.
The art style and character designs of the series are very visually appealing, with lots of nice character reactions and well done use of the camera angles, studio Nexus hasn't done many things yet but I would be totally in for them doing more series in the future because they never fail to deliver in terms of quality. The music on the other side is nothing memorable but fits well for the tone of the scenes, the opening and ending themes are two good songs by the VAs of the four protagonists, with the later having some really nice transitions into it at the end of some episodes.
Comic Girls is a fantastic series I enjoyed a lot and I really recommend to watch to any fan of the cute girls genre, or for anyone looking for a comedy series to watch, because this one delivers hard.
Comic Girls fits in an interesting spot for CGDCT shows. While there is an abundance of CGDCT that manage to have nice light fluffy interactions but with little depth, it s rare to see a show like Comic Girls where the depth of the show is the highlight. With Comic Girls there is a lot of depth given to the characters, who they are, what they're aiming for, and the growth that they have as comic artists. While the characters do have their gimmicks and can seem a bit cliche at the start. There is much more to them than that. One thing I appreciate
is that they all seem to be modeled off the genre of manga that they are writing. Koyume acts like a shoujo protagonist. Tsubasa acts like a shounen protagonist. Moeta acts like a combination between the typical CGDCT protagonist and its audience. While it does lead them to be more prototypical than they could be it also creates and interesting and humorous meta joke.
By itself that is nice but nothing special, but what is great is how it's used for their development and how their depth gets explored due to that. With Koyume, the shoujo mangaka, an empathsis on love is brought into her character arc, including her learning how it feels to actually be in love and the feelings that she has. With Ruki, a josei ecchi mangaka, she learns how to love herself and what she does even those it may seem shameful or something not to be proud of. With Moeta, the CGDCT mangaka, she learns how to have friends and be accepted by them as well as how to deal with all of her self-esteem issues. They all have issues that bring them to be more than just the meta archetypes that they start with. It makes them compelling as characters and their successes that much more satisfying.
Another interesting point in Comic Girls' depth is its yuri. While a lot of CGDCT like to do hints at yuri and make soft yuri ships, Comic Girls goes beyond that. There are explicit statements of love towards other girls as well as focus on those feelings. They aren't treated as a joke but rather with power and focus. Not only that but they're not content to just show it and have the fandom supply the rest. Comic Girls actually shows reasons why the two characters would fit together well, why they like each other, and how each other improves each other's lives. With a lot of romances it often feels like the main point is a statement of the characters being in love with each other rather than a focus on what makes them so good together. Comic Girls' eschews that by showing how the two help each other, and why they like each other. It makes for a very satisfying romance, when many other CGDCT only teased at one.
Interestingly while Comic Girls manages to handle its depth well it does have an issue with it's more SOL moments. While these are usually the bread and butter of CGDCT shows, and is the easier parts for a show to do Comic Girls' SOL moments are pretty generic and standard. While the chemistry that the cast has goes a long way, the gimmicks are relied on a lot, and in general the jokes are nothing special, especially when compared to the large library of CGDCT works. Too often overused jokes are made, or the same material is riffed on over and over again.
That said I feel like the characters, and the great depthful moments more than make up for that. The art is also quite nice and the general finished product is a good one although not a spectacular one.
At the end of the day I'd say Comic Girls is a really good CGDCT and one that any fan of CGDCT should happily pick up. It may not have the strongest jokes or fluff, but the overall combination of material is great.