Tsubomi Shirakawa, 18 years old, has graduated from high school, but while her circle of friends have already found jobs or started college, she has decided to become a "Freeter," and begins part-timing at a local rental video store. Meanwhile, she finds out that her cousin Noni, whom she has not met from as long as she can remember, has debuted in show business.
Tsubomi may have a chubby figure but was uninterested in beauty of figure or form. However that is about to change when, a coworker, Shiro, brings her to visit a bar where she falls in love with the owner, Nasukawa.
Cousin is one of those stories which grab you from the start and almost forces you to continue reading. It's a perfect balance between the serious stuff that makes you think about life and the stuff that just makes you giggle awkwardly in the middle of the night. With just 18 chapters out, it's not surprising, but nonetheless a pity that it's not more popular!
Tsubomi is an overweight 18 year-old late bloomer who has never had a boyfriend, let alone any confidence whatsoever.
After graduating high school she's working part-time at a rental video store. On her first week she bumps into an older random dude, who later turns out to be her love interest.
That same day, her co-worker, Shiro, comments on how she looks like Noni, a famous idol, to which Bon-chan reveals she's actually her cousin!
Due to her cousin's recent rise in showbiz, and her friend's increasing popularity, Bon-chan resolves to lose weight.
I'm surprised I'm giving the art a ten, because quite frankly - it's nowhere near the complexity of Samura-sama (Blade of the Immortal, anyone?). But the beauty lies in the charming style of Ikuemi-sensei. Her characters are fresh and clean, yet have that original sort of look about them. You become whole-heartedly emotionally attached and affected by this art, which is the highest praise any art, in my opinon, can get.
The characters are what I like to call manga-realistic. It's not easy to make interesting and at the same time realistic, "true" characters - and so they're a mix of both. But the greatest thing about them is that you feel as if you know them and still want to know more after just a few chapters. And what's best is that character development exists, in a good way.
The enjoyment was great. I'm still hunting after raws this very moment. It's too bad the scanlating group, J-Sis, seems to have dropped this superb manga.
I like the fact that in this manga, Tsubomi actually has weight issues, unlike other stories where "fat" girls go on diets to make themselves look even smaller than they already are (eek, I do smell anorexia becoming bigger in Japan...).
As for someone like me, who's never been overweight in my whole life, it was surprisingly easy to relate to Bon-chans struggles. Because, let's face it: even though the majority of us aren't overweight, we're constantly being pressured by society into differents perspectives of what it's like to be feminine (and I can't deny I've felt a need to ditch that last cookie, in hopes of losing a few kilos).
Bon-chan counters these perspectives by, well... actually following some of them. And it turns out she feels better by doing it.
Even though part of the reason behind her decision is society's current view on beauty, she doesn't give up. And the transformation is quite stunning, though she's still the same old Bon-chan.
Of course I cannot review the whole series as I've just read 18 chapters, but if you're interested in shoujo, heck any sort of manga with a strong female lead, you should read this.
Oh, a bit of warning though: don't go on the diet recommended in this manga. It's truthfully absurd ;)read more
At first I found Tsubomi, the main character, frustrating, but I quickly related to her when she began to think about positively changing herself. I loved that this story felt real, and that it was relatable on many different levels (that I didn’t expect). All this being said, I found the plot at times was slow moving, spending too much time on little points that weren’t interesting. Certain points that were the cause of conflict were not very compelling, making them unimportant and not interesting to developing the plot. Although these are problems, they’re not major issues to the overall effect of the story.
The cast of characters are all very different in the story. There are many foils that play off of Tsubomi’s character which work with varying effect. The main highlight is on Tsubomi and Shiro’s relationship as friends. Shiro’s character is very likeable, as he easily becomes someone you can imagine being a real guy friend of your own. His character is natural and his characteristics follow naturally from the simple clues you are given about him. The mangaka does a good job of not over-complicating conversation and interactions between characters; we get subtle clues about their personalities and come to judgments about what type of person they are based on those moments. We don’t need in-depth analyses, but rather we can use real-world examples to understand each character’s role in a young woman’s life such as Tsubomi’s. A lot is left to the imagination which makes particular characters strong in that regard. Being left with a few questions behind intentions is compelling, and it leaves us thinking critically about the roles people have in our own lives.
Unfortunately Cousin isn’t the most gorgeous manga out there. At times it looks a bit sloppy, there’s a lot of white space and overused backgrounds. The art style however is unique as it doesn’t over embellish physical features and displays things in a more realistic tone. Tsubomi’s character is convincingly plain, contrasting her well against the made-up female counterparts she’s often comparing herself to. Each character has a unique design that compliments their personality. It offers a refreshing simplistic art style, but it falls prey to messy drawings with generic backgrounds, both leading to an overall lack luster presentation.
here are many great aspects to this manga series that made it a stand out pick. Its relatable protagonist and well thought-out storytelling kept me interested while offering an interesting art-style that rejects over-romanticized art (one that often plagues many romantic manga series). It has few flaws, and from my overall experience of reading the manga I was willing to overlook them and go along with Tsubomi’s journey.