"I spent all my time wondering 'What if?' Then one day I woke up and I was 33."
Rinko doesn't think she's that bad-looking, but before she knew it, she was thirty-something and single. Now she wants to get married by the time the Tokyo Olympics rolls around in six years, but… that might be easier said than done!
I love Higashimura's work and when I heard of this one and it's plot I was immediately interested.
The first and second volume and a bit of the third were so intensely engaging with amazing life quotes and steady rising flow, but by the 4th volume that intensity slowed and you reach the point of where all the characters' are stuck in their own kind of slump and conflict more individually but still together since they are the tokyo tarareba girls.
I really recommend picking this up since it's getting a physical release this summer (I read it digitally because I thought such a niche title would
only get that).
The characters and the story are all interesting and if you're an older reader or just becoming a young adult, there are a lot of worries about getting old and finding happiness that can really make your heart twinge at times. It can be a bit of a horror story for those that feel the most related to these characters, as a lot of Japanese women in their thirties (fellow tokyo tarareba girls as Higashimura called them) told Higashimura themselves.
At the end of the volumes there is also a kind of advice column where Higashimura herself answers the questions and woes of real life tokyo tarareba girls and those are really funny and sometimes painful simultaneously.
Furthermore, the end of the story gets a proper resolution that did feel satisfying as well which I was very wary about since I had heard the drama adaptation ended a little one note and simple about what the characters should have known in the first place, but the manga is different.
It slows down towards the end and you wonder if anyone will find any sort of resolution or happiness, but Higashimura manages to deliver in a not so cliche way a kind of happy end for everyone. It's a very nice end for all the conflict and strife our tokyo tarareba girls had to face to get to that point and gives the reader one last inkling of advice to ponder on ourselves.
Overall, the story goes between hilarious banter and self-reflecting monologues and conversations that make you laugh at how you change as you get older and also cry at how fast you grow older. There are some monologues that still stand out to me and I feel like I'll be rereading this again and buying the physical later on to have as I get older and to recommend to my friends if they ever get into an age slump or when they hit 33 years old. It was also a nice read before the 2020 Olympics coming up as they mention it multiple times.
I highly recommend, especially if you're a fan of josei or have reached a slump, or have just turned 33. (But beware, you might find it so relatable it feels like a horror as well).
I was surprised to find that this manga's score is below 8 and this would e the first review! This my first review so bear with me :D
This manga is amazing. You might find the main characters annoying but be patient. It's great!
*This contains may spoilers*
The story is great it mainly deals with how society looks at women. It questions society standards. Why must women end up married? is that women's happiness? What is happiness? What's wrong with living freely and being independent? It deals with this and how it pressures women and their search for happiness
The character which is the voice of the society
that criticizes them severely but in the end it is revealed that he envies our protagonists. He wanted to live like them. So isn't society contradicting itself?
The manga is realistic, not a shoujo disguised in josie, as I said before it deals with women's problem and not just in Japan but this a problem worldwide. Actually, sometimes we think that these problems don't exist in developed countries but all countries of the world have these problems even if the severity differs.
I am from Egypt a third world country that suffers from these even far worse from Japan. We have a saying-sorry for the rough translation- "A man's shadow rather than a wall's shadow" it means that marriage is the ultimate goal and shows how women are dependent on men.
I am 21 so I am still young but I was able to relate the manga to my context where marriage is a woman's happiness. Not all manga deal with this and even if they did, not in such a good way. So I found it great.
Last month a very strange thing happened. I found myself reading, God forbid, a heterosexual manga. And on top of that, I found myself sincerely enjoying it too. So how did I even get into this position?
Well, it’s my love of Akiko Higashimura’s previous works that brought me to Tokyo Tarareba Girls. The cast consisting of women in their 30’s was the part that really intrigued me. It’s so rare to see mangas about people past high school and young adulthood, and especially ones from the perspective of working women. The closest other thing I can think of to this perspective is Turning Girls, the
hilarious and overlooked Trigger short about female coworkers struggling together as they face the prospect of turning 30. Tarareba Girls feels like a continuation of that spirit, in name and in plot. Our girls are into their 30s, haven’t married, still have boozy girl’s nights together like nothing has changed in a decade, and are generally terrified about their futures. Reading this through my birthday gave me some very relatable feelings!
Packed into this romantic/depression comedy is a lot of explicit and implicit social commentary. Lots of grumbling about how underwhelming the men in Japan are, lots of questionable guys doing creepy things, some discussion about the role of married women as workers versus housewives, just the whole works. You start to get the feeling that within the current societal romantic setup, everyone is kinda suffering in some way. And this isn’t just a Japan thing! While some of the sexism and ageism is pretty specific, a lot of is totally applicable to any culture. My takeaway from the early volumes was that heterosexuality is terrifying and as long as it entails inherent relationship power imbalances, nobody will be happy.
This sounds sad and hard to read! But I promise, once the manga gets rolling it ends up being way lighter reading. The trio oscillates in and out of all sorts of relationships, some messier than others. A better work-life balance is achieved. The one thing that stays the same is the girl’s endless nights drinking and badmouthing their men. During these drinking escapades they’re visited by anthropomorphized representations of milt and liver who fill their thoughts with ‘what-if’ questions and aging anxiety, which is a nice callback to Clara from Princess Jellyfish.
Milt and Liver also run an advice column chapter at the end of each volume, in which real world ‘what-if’ women mail them their romance problems to sort out. This is a really interesting role for the mangaka to take on, and it’s played fairly sincerely – obviously there’s a lighthearted air to it, but she does try to offer serious advice. The problems get weirder and more convoluted as the manga goes on, which is always a fun time.
Speaking of romantic advice, I actually kind of disagree with the ending that Higashimura went with. But that’s not a problem at all! I’m younger than the depicted women, my world view is way different, and the ending still carries a very coherent message: don’t regret yourself or make excuses, just keep on living to your best.
Like most of Higashimura’s works, Tokyo Tarareba Girls has a painful autobiographical undercurrent to it, which makes it feel all the more genuine. It kinda sucks being an awkward aging romantic mess of a girl, but I love seeing the mangaka reflect and work through it over the course of multiple manga series!
Men still suck though. Try to avoid them if you can.
This manga reviews the current view of the role of woman in Japan, which is quite accurate. It questions the stereotype of woman in Japan, where woman are viewed as someone who takes care of home only. Knowing how harsh Japan is on woman, it is easy to empathize with the characters
The struggle of the three main characters in their pursue in happiness is presented very well. In Japan, woman are taught that they must get married in order to attain happiness and that being a bride is the ultimate goal of their life. Seeing how the three characters struggle to find happiness in a
society that emphasize marriage is an enlightening experience.
But the best part is the replies to the letter from readers by Higashimura herself at the end of each chapter. She gives advice to woman who are facing similar crisis in their life. The advice is quite interesting. I recommend everyone to read that part.