The story follows a girl named Mame, whose family runs a public bath. She has held on to feelings of unrequited love for her childhood friend for twenty years. The title is a pun on "Kuiiji," a word for gluttony.
I am mostly writing this review, because I for one, have enjoyed this series greatly and it pains me to see such a damning review at the top of the page currently.
For some barebones background, I have at this point in time read all 6 released volumes in Japanese.
Koiiji's unique achievement, personally, is it's ability to take what is traditionally a tragic and often frustrating series of tropes, and imbue them with a humanity and warmness. Nothing is as simple as it may initially seem, and even 6 volumes in I often don't know what to think about many of the characters.
For example, the
daughter of the deceased mother immediately after the funeral asking the protagonist to become her new Mother might seem callous, as I've seen it described by other reviewers, but it is clear it comes from a place of worrying for her own Father and because it never occurs to her that this is disrespecting her Mother. In fact, insinuations that she is doing just that by another character later in the series leads to her changing her initial opinion, though how firmly remains to be seen.
Mame's character could easily be pathetic, as unmarried female protagonists in josei manga are often at risk of, but she is self-aware, and is striving to improve herself no matter how circumstances impede her.
In fact, the entire cast is. What truly endears me to this series is that everyone has a three-dimensionality and everyone is struggling to reach their own happiness without hurting those around them.
It still remains to be seen whether this series ends happily or as a tragedy, but I care enough about their fates to see them through.
Content Warning: There is an adulterous relationship between a high school girl and an adult man within the series. Which is unfortunately rather typical for Shimura's work. It is not a major couple, they have already ended the relationship when the series begins, and it appears around 3 to 4 volumes in.
The title 'Koiiji' takes itself on the play of the word 'kuiiji', which means glutton, and implying 'Love Appetite'. In the context of the story, it is more like 'A Glutton for Love', reflecting Mame's long, unrequited love. [taken from nachte's translation]
I was attracted to the art and the idea of reading a manga with older characters as opposed to the school-romance you always see. Mame is 30 years old helping her family run a bath house. What I least expected this to be was a manga full of stereotyped men, women, and a bad script that has no tact.
It makes fun of death,
of love, of relationships only to shove the reader with a spoonful of romance genre because that's what the reader is craving for right? They're only looking for romance, no matter the form you dish it out.
Souta's wife, Haru, died a year back. The mourning period is just being lifted. You'd think a 10 year old kid will have a hard time adjusting, no less her father. But that 10 year old kid tells Mame to marry her dad because she's been in love with him her whole life. Like... uh... Haru didn't love her kid or what? Her child is already anticipating a new replacement relationship. HOW convenient do you want things for Mame?
I'm not asking for brooding characters, but there's no substance at all to their relationships. Sure people should move on, but in this case, I don't see a moving on at all. It just seems outright cold, like nothing happened, as if the funeral was a ruse and there really was noone like Haru. Like the characters themselves don't know what death means because the mangaka did not start by introducing Haru to her own daughter. LOL. It's just fastforwarding.
The rest of the story is about how Mame is rejected over and over by Souta and how she tries to deal with it. I can't say if the manga is rushing, or her feelings have no depth. Maybe both.
The men are there for women's racks. The women think of marriage as the ultimate goal of life to world peace. Mame even thinks about her boobs as a way to see Sou naked. Like.. uh.. what? And let's not leave out Brazil as the place with the most crime. It's like.. what you hear is what you get. If you're looking out for a examples with social stereotypes, you should pick this manga up.
LOL... you have a dialogue by a pregnant girl saying, "Even a pregnant woman can kill baby cockroaches." You'd think a pregnant woman will think more about the word 'baby' especially with the word 'kill'. It's really not such a light issue.
I'm aghast at the mangaka, Takako Shimura, who has a work like Hourou Musuko, which, though wasn't the best, but definitely tried to raise issues about gender and bring forth questions. I don't know how the characters are going to develop in Koiiji, but if this is the way you start off, I have no hopes and only feel sick to continue. This is a manga made for the sake of a romance genre. It has nothing to offer in terms of story, no dialogue that will give you a slice of life, and characters that are just so flat and follow the ample tropes you see enough of.
I wish the mangaka invested her time into something more meaningful.
In early 2016 I was looking for new josei manga to read; I had just discovered & by Okazaki Mari and I was really interested in manga that explored more mature themes. I just sort of stumbled upon Koiiji which only had a few chapters back then and instantly fell in love with the art and the focus on character. It's a story about love and loss at its core but it has so much more going on. The characters are so layered and even though it's about love it explores all kinds of love not only the romantic kind. It's also painfully relatable -
we've all been there. You're really gonna get invested in the characters not only because everyone's so pretty but because they're so real. I really recommend this manga and all other titles by this mangaka.