A terrible creature has been plaguing the community: a man with a fishbowl for a head. When he attacks someone, the goldfish leaps out of his bowl and drinks their blood. The victim is irreversibly transformed into a goldfish! This terrible crime has happened to high schooler Kousuke's little sister. With no other option, he takes care of his goldfish-sister as best he can.
One day, he comes across a strange girl named Ringo, who wears a school swimsuit, carries an umbrella, and keeps a gun hanging around her neck. Ringo is an apprentice blood diver, and the gun is her way of shooting herself into the wounds of the fishbowl man's victims. If she can get to them in time, she can prevent them from turning into goldfish. Ringo's mentor, Ichigo, says that she's heard of a way to turn people back from goldfish into humans. Kousuke is determined to help Ringo find a way to help his sister and the loved ones of his friends at school who have met the same fishy fate!
Volume 2: Jigoku (Hell), Kappa no Shokutaku (Kappa's Dinner Table)
Volume 3: Onikujo (Oni Killer)
Chimoguri Ringo to Kingyobachi Otoko was forced to end after Dengeki Comic Japan ceased publication in December, 2012. The series was able to resume two years later as Shin Chimoguri Ringo to Kingyobachi Otoko in Earth Star Entertainment's web magazine Comic Earth☆Star.
Is it even possible to make a manga about blood-diving girls and a serial killer with a fishbowl for a head boring? Apparently, yes. You just need to never move past the concept. Basically, after you have seen the MAL page for this manga, you have seen it all. Here, you can add it to your Completed list now.
I understand that you don’t believe me, I also wanted it to be a lost gem. And, I guess, fans could easily offer counterarguments. After all there’re clever things in this manga, like using a pervert, whose nose bleeds when he sees a girl in a swimsuit,
to summon the fishbowl man (he reacts to blood near water), or most of blooddiver stuff being inspired by pool and near-pool activities. There’re fun random details, like one of the policemen who always arrest the blooddiver girl having eyepatches on both of his eyes, or a giant girl studying in the same class as the main character.
But details don't really help, when the plot of this manga is basically “something happens and there’s also goldfish”. If you look past the surreal glitter, nothing moves ahead – the characters gather stuff, then lose it, then recollect it, then lose it. There’s about one meaningful event that happens out of nowhere closer to the end. But you don’t feel involved, because you never learn the rules of their world – it neither becomes magically realistic, nor gets completely surreal, staying in the limbo of superficial fluff. You don’t feel any tension, the manga is goodnatured, so it’s obvious that nothing will happen. Even the scenes that happen “inside blood” are rather boring, I've seen much better symbolic worlds in this meduim. The characters are cardboard cut-outs, even if relatively nice, the few motivations that are given being your standard shounen placeholders, like “I wanna get better”, “I wanna save”, “ I am a perv”. The fishbowl man is by far the most interesting, but, sadly, he isn’t developed at all.
The art is bound to be divisive. It combines realistic, often very detailed backgrounds and highly stylized cutesy (almost chibi-style) characters (except for the fishbowl man, he looks like Slenderman). I like that the art has a lot of personality, and some of the situations and object make for striking individual panels, but cuteness sort of replaces characterization, which I hate, and the author, sadly, lacks the gift for cinematography, so the panelwork is rather bland.
The publication includes a couple of shorts, and I like them much more than the big story. Maybe it’s because for them developing the unusual premise is a non-issue, but "Kappa's Dinner Table" is also better at characterization, and "Hell", which is by far the best, has genuinely fun scenes and an actual punchline (and also a fapping skeleton).
Right, I have a feeling that "Chimoguri Ringo to Kingyobachi Otoko" is also supposed to have fanservice. I say I am not sure, because the characters are cartoonish, and it’s far behind, compared to modern popular ecchi. It may work only for school swimsuits enthusiasts (this is a recurring topic in the manga itself). Actually, swimsuit fetishism is, probably, the closest "Chimoguri Ringo to Kingyobachi Otoko" comes to having energy. I can see the point in a world that plays with the combination of girls in dark-blue swimsuits, pools, water and lush hydrangeas in a rainy season. It might have been beautiful, too bad the manga doesn’t use well even the context of wetness – we don’t notice, when the characters are soaked and when not.
"Chimoguri Ringo to Kingyobachi Otoko" doesn’t have an ending, the story is continued in "Shin Chimoguri Ringo to Kingyobachi Otoko", and the sequel does attempt to change the status quo, as it seems, it also has a lot more blooddiver girls. But here I evaluate the first half, so there’s that: it’s empty plot- and characterization-wise.
Maybe this author’s style is not for me, but I can judge only based on my experience. So my verdict is: unless you really like girls in swimsuits (and if you do, I congratulate you, sir, on hitting a bingo and wish you a good fieldtrip this evening) or want some surreal pages to illustrate the range of imagination in manga (without much context), I don’t think it is really worth your time. The sequel has a recap too. Flip through "Chimoguri Ringo to Kingyobachi Otoko" or check out the shorts, reading though the actual chapters won’t be very enjoyable or fruitful. All in all, being happy that a manga with such a plot exist and seeing an example of the artstyle is as much as you’ll get from this.
*I am going to be using the word "weird" many times in this review, and you will see why*
"Chimoguri Ringo to Kingyobachi Otoko" is a weird manga. I don't think anyone will argue against that. The premise is certainly unique, and a weird take on the fantasy genre in which a couple people (a guy and a girl) battle against mysterious creatures in a supernatural setting. In this case, the setting happens to be inside the body of humans who have been "bitten" by the Fishbowl Man and need to be saved before the goldfish toxin takes over their
bodies and turns them into goldfish. See where the story gets weird yet?
But let's back up for a second to the beginning. Kousuke is your average high school boy with nothing special about him. One day, he happens upon a weird girl in a school swimsuit with a plastic gun tied whose hand is stuck in a vending machine. On top of that, she fell asleep there and wakes up as Kousuke tries to leave without being spotted by her. He frees her, and she thanks him by giving him a weird telephone (like you would see in a phone booth) that has a cord connected to nothing. She tells him to give her a call if he ever runs into trouble. By trouble, she means the Fishbowl Man, a mysterious "man" with a goldfish bowl for a head who goes around after rainstorms and turns people who are bleeding into goldfish.
While relieving himself in a public bathroom later on, Kousuke turns and notices the Fishbowl Man standing next to him. He is "bitten" and falls to the ground as blood pours out of the cork-sized hole in his neck. Somehow he is able to use the phone connected to nothing to notify the girl (who is named Ringo) and she comes to help him. Ringo is a "blood diver" which is a person who shoots herself (with the plastic gun) into the wounds caused by the Fishbowl Man and captures the goldfish toxin from turning the person into a goldfish and saves them. Through a series of problems due to Ringo's inexperience and poor swimming skills, Kousuke has to help her, and afterwards they end up teaming up to go around and help people since Kousuke is a strong swimmer.
Aside from the weird plot, the manga also suffers in other categories with the most noticeable right from the start being the art. The art in general is just poorly drawn. Some closer images of the characters are good, but most of the time there is large lack of detail, especially in the character designs and emotions. The Fishbowl Man is about the only character who manages to be well drawn most of the time and he is also the only one with a unique design.
The characters also suffer from being generic and having a huge lack of any kind of backstory. Kousuke's sister who was turned into a goldfish is given a short period where we're supposed to feel bad for her being turned into one as Kousuke goes through the pain of not being able to save her (before getting through it kind of quickly) but she wasn't even shown or mentioned before so there was absolutely no connection at all. Moving on to the main characters, Kousuke and Ringo. They have a weird relationship in which the author attempts to give them a very small amount (so far) of romance, which for the most part falls flat and is quickly forgotten after a couple pages. The minor characters are also pretty generic: a girl with a short "must-get-revenge" period, a boy who gets nosebleeds at the mere sight of girls in swimsuits (and Ringo is always wearing a swimsuit), a "senpai" figure, and a motherly figure. About the only real interesting character (well Ringo is't bad) is the Fishbowl Man, but unfortunately he is almost completely shrouded in mystery at the current time so not much is known about him. Apparently he can still smoke a cigarette even with his weird fishbowl head though, just fyi.
While it isn't horrible, there isn't really anything that stands out about "Chimoguri Ringo to Kingyobachi Otoko." The art is simple, the characters are pretty bland and have basically nonexistant pasts, and the story is just weird. If you want a simple, weird manga than this may be something you enjoy. However if you are looking for a thrilling tale with interesting characters or breathtaking art than I recommend skipping this one.