Ichigo 100% East Side Story is nothing more than a short story with some of the characters from the original story, a couple years after it's ending.
If you've finished Ichigo 100% and want a little bit more of it, you might as well give this a check, since it's only 4 chapters long anyways.
Having in mind that this was released a good 12 years after it's parent story, it's normal that people would want something a bit more fleshed out and consistent, but it's not.
It's just a small sneak peak at Toujou's life when she meets a guy who looks quite like
Manaka. But isn't.
Honestly, I think this manga is enjoyable for what it is, and it was always nice to see some of the characters again after so long. Just don't go into this expecting a full fledged sequel, think of it more like a special side story and nothing more.
First Impressions Review:
I know, I know, there's only one chapter out yet and you're already writing a review??? Yes, because the reader needs to be informed, especially if you were a super big fan of the prequel, Ichigo 100% from 15 years ago. [Also, sarcasm ahead since I am fairly disappointed]
This is NOT a what-if, alternate route story back with Manaka in high school, if that was what you were looking for. Instead, it's a new story with a new male lead with the name Nakama. Red flag #1 (ever heard of "nomen est omen"? Names matter. A TON).
Not only is the name Nakama a rearranged version of Manaka (Put "ma" in front: Ma-na-ka => Na-ka-ma), he looks and acts almost exactly like Manaka. Red flag #2 (although I guess this personality/look is a stereotypical high school male lead trait, but still did you really have to do it this explicitly). Nakama then proceeds to do some accidental ecchi stuff to Aya, including seeing her strawberry panties, which is a pretty significant motif in the previous work. This reminds Aya of Manaka, shouting his name then being surprised at herself, she runs away with tears in her eyes. The BIGGEST red flag.
The point is for Aya to move on. But not like this. This is farthest away from moving on. Why, why did the male lead had to be so similar to Aya's first love? That is so messed up. It was implied in the previous work that Aya has moved on and found her own happiness by going to a good college, not following Manaka, and writing professionally. This was one of the most commendable traits in the prequel. Other than the theme of Romance, Ecchi, and Harem, the readers (at least I) loved the work for the coming-of-age trait and the character's searching for their dreams and passionately pursuing them. Not just Aya, but also Tsukasa with her dream of becoming a patissier. That is what made the work more than just pretty drawings and the characters more attractive and relatable.
When this work was announced, I was so happy that I'll get to read the sequel to the work I've enjoyed so much back when I was the same age as the characters. But now I'm very worried about where this is going. I am not entirely sure a what-if story would have been better than this, but this current progress in East Side is definitely not right.
Yes, I've only read one chapter but this story is all too predictable. I can already see it. Nakama is a high school boy aspriring to be a writer. Aya is already a pretty accomplished writer in college. Wow, I am DYING to know what will happen between them! What will Manaka and Tsukasa (if they ever appear in East Side) think when they see Aya with a younger boy who looks and behaves EXACTLY like Manaka?
I'll be watching you, Kawashita-sensei, with fire in my eyes. Please do not ruin your amazing work of past (and our fond memories) with your own hands. Please prove me wrong and surprise us as you did with the ending of Ichigo 100%.
*I will update this review as the story progresses (I'll at least give it a try...)- I don't usually rate works until they're finished but I'm required to here- gave a 4 since I smell impending doom of this story...
*** UPDATE ***
So... after much fire and fury, this finishes after 4 chapters? I am intrigued. Warning: a bit of a spoiler from here on (because what can you work with when there're only 4 chapters to the entire thing???). First off, if you're a Satsuki fan, you should avoid this. Man, I thought Aya had it bad after the first chapter. Satsuki... I have only tears for your fans... What happened in chapter 2 is quite appalling to say the least and you will probably regret tarnishing your image of Satsuki after the reading.
The story showed some progress with the aspect of "moving on." In fact, it faced it in a quite straightforward way that it was realistic to the point of making you feel uncomfortable. It is hard to move on, especially if you meet someone who reminds you of your past relationship. The series acknowledges that and the characters (mostly Aya) struggle to grapple with their overflowing feelings. At chapter 3, there was some glimmer of hope, that maybe Aya can take this opportunity, through meeting someone like Manaka but is a different human being, to confront her deep-seated love that she was not willing to let go. She painfully faces her self-enchained heart. This is all great and have good potential. But then it ends. Aya and Nakama part their ways. Just like that. That's it. Which makes you wonder, then what was the point? Why was Ichigo 100% even re-serialized when there will only be 4 chapters? If you are going to delve into heavy themes, why end with just 4 chapters? The 4 chapters could have been used to explore Aya's adult life or other characters' or even just an alternate route. But then we got this. A nail in the coffin to Aya's story. Another textbook example of a terrible sequel that sullies the original work. A heavy-handed insult to the fans.
I would avoid this work with a passion if you were a fan of the original Ichigo 100% from 2002 and especially if you are a Satsuki or Aya fan.