Oono Fumi is a poor second year high school student. Because of her father's debts, she's kicked out of her own home and has to rely on her own connections to survive. Thus begins her life as a live-in housekeeper for a reclusive writer...
(Source: Damn Feels!)
Volume 7: Hirunaka no Ryuusei Bangai-hen: Blue
Volume 8: Hirunaka no Ryuusei Bangai-hen: Red
I first heard about Mika Yamamori because of Hirunaka no Ryuusei. While it was a manga I, overall, enjoyed, I couldn't help but feel that it could have been so much better had it not be rushed. When I started reading Tsubaki-chou Lonely Planet, I hoped she had improved by then. Somehow, her writing skills have worsened.
It all starts when Fumi Ohno starts working as a live-in housekeeper to Akatsuki Kibikino, a writer. Not so different from Hirunaka no Ryuusei at this point, considering the main characters are around the same age gap, despite the men having completely opposite personalities.
The beginning is just your average
shoujo cliche, but it's cool - that's coming from a shoujo fan at least. The problem starts with the characters' development, more precisely, the lack thereof.
The first thing is Fumi's situation. The debt is not properly mentioned until later on. Actually, her father doesn't really appear until later on. Considering that it is the main point of conflict, it should have been handled better and with more frequency.
The second problem is the side characters. Despite being supporting characters, for a manga of over 70 chapters, they are extremely underdeveloped. If Yoh Tobiume, Fumi's best friend, appears at basically two pages in every three chapters to give some advice, I can't even start on Isshin Aioi and Eito Kuratsuki. All three have their moments... which last about one chapter. Basically, they are pretty much useless.
However, Gorou Kaneishi is a particular case, albeit not a good one. He works as Akatsuki's editor, so, supposedly, he should appear quite frequently on the manga, since Akatsuki is constantly working through the series. Let's say... Gorou has two "missions", as not to spoil it. The first one is in the beginning. He completes his mission. He starts appearing way less. The second one is in the middle of the series. He completes it once again. He suddenly vanishes. Yet, Akatsuki keeps working... without his editor. And the character who acts as Kaneishi's "substitute" kind of vanishes at the same time.
Another reason I am not a fan of this manga is Akatsuki himself. It comes off as no surprise, as I'm not fond of characters with a personality similar to his. And while he improves at the end of the story, some of his actions in the way are way too much for me. That being said, the script is also to blame here, as his backstory is poorly explored. They try to do something in the end, but it seems rushed and dull.
Despite all these negative aspects, TCLP has its positive traits. The first one is the art. Mika keeps being one of my favorite shoujo manga artists - if not the favorite! There is not a single chapter where it looks bad. It's simply perfection.
The second one is Fumi. While she is not the best shoujo heroine I've seen, her plain backstory helps her at this point. She is working at such a young age to help her family, which makes her a somewhat mature character, despite her inexperience in love. She is a nice girl.
In the end, my score would have been lower if I didn't have some sympathy with her work. While it's not an insufferable read, it doesn't really do much. Mika, please... focus on your story next time.
I discovered Tsubaki-chou Lonely Planet due to Yanamori Mika's other, more well known, work Hirunaka no Ryuusei. I'm sure a lot of people who are considering reading this manga are here for the same reason.
I think this manga is unfairly underrated. Although it is a bit cliche -- I mean, 16-year-old girl begins working as a housekeeper for a writer who happens to be ridiculously good-looking? C'mon. Anyone who has read a lotta shoujo knows what's up by now. Going back to my main point, I believe that this manga deserves more attention.
Other than the somewhat cliche storyline, I would definitely recommend
you to read this manga. It only has around 6 chapters so far (or that's how many there are uploaded in Mangapark/Mangafox as of the moment). It has a lot of cute, doki-doki moments. It's not too serious -- not right now, at least -- and you'll definitely have fun reading it.
The art is good -- if you like Yanamori Mika's artwork, you're in for a treat.
The manga's OKAY, borderline good. Then again, I've only read 6 chapters so far. But I have this weird feeling that it'll just keep getting better and better. The characters are cute and interesting to read about.
While the story itself is kind of a cliche shoujo manga (which has its ups and downs), it definitely has somethings that other shoujos do not.
For one, the communication between the two main love interests is fairly good. They don't go around, sneaking all their feelings. The girl, Ohno/ Ono (the translation varies), is very smart, and will speak for herself. The main guy, Akatsuki, is the kind who is "hard to understand," but he's straightforward and not necessarily a huge dick for no reason.
The storyline is fairly standard, but I have some hope that it might differ a little from the standard. It's
lovely, and I love a lot of the characters. And the art style is so beautiful.
Please give it a read (there's only 16 right now).
WOO! Yamamori Mika has yet again embarked on another Shoujo Quest, and let me tell you, it's looking up!
It's early days so far, 9 chapters for what might become a behemoth (if it's going to be anything like Hirunaka no Ryuusei), but from what's been published so far, I think a lot of people will really enjoy this! Yamamori has laid some great foundations for a somewhat unpredictable manga, and when she fleshes things out a bit, I'm sure it'll be a hit...!
TL;DR? WATCH THIS SPACE.
For those who feel like a breakdown, here's the breakdown:
The Story is somewhat typical and
follows what you could call the typical 'shoujo path to romance and happiness' in that your protagonist finds herself in a weird situation, adjusts, falls in love, finds obstacles and so on and so forth. Until the end, where she (I assume) finds a soul mate in the male lead. Even within the 9 chapters I've read so far, obstacles have been leapt over... and with sense of more to come lingering behind such leaps... This does make the story exciting though, it moves at a somewhat fast pace, but perhaps some things are just a bit too predictable? (I'll let you guess what I'm talking about when you read it.)
However(!), there are little twists to the story which makes you NOT want to shoot yourself. One thing I've noticed in particular is how there is little interaction held within school despite Fumi (the protagonist) to be a high school student! (Shock horror!) Sure, this isn't a huge twist, but let's call it change, and I think a little change to the age-old high school environment tradition to be good (there're only so many times you can hold a Sports Festival or Cultural Festival until it becomes boring). I'd list more, but that'd be a spoiler, which is just no fun; they're subtle though, but you get a refreshing read as a result!
All-in-all, the story's alright, but perhaps not as typical as most other shoujos, heck, maybe not even as typical as HnR (and I acknowledge there was an attempt at being original in terms of the story there). Not to mention there're some funny parts too which may ACTUALLY make you laugh!
Perhaps asking me to review Yamamori Mika's art isn't the best idea, considering I am hugely biased...?! I absolutely adore her art style, sure it's still 'girly' and 'sparkly' and stuff, but it's sleek, simply yet also detailed where detail's due. In terms of the characters, for me (and this may seem weird), the way Yamamori draws hair (and faces and... PEOPLE IN GENERAL) is perfection , and the gags are drawn well to boot. The effects and settings (the 'overlooked(?)' stuff) is pretty good, what you'd expect from a published manga to be honest, so all-round quality is pretty good.
ALL-IN-ALL: The art is wonderful!
Like the story: somewhat typical. However, also like the story: some entertaining twists! Like HnR (I'm trying really hard not to compare the two too much, I'm sorry!), the protagonist is somewhat exciting and intriguing, and I'd argue even more so given Fumi's background (dead parents? +10 for character depth. Not a transfer student? +10 non-cliché points.). Yet protagonist aside, the other characters lack a little depth (typical shoujo?); Akatsuki and Aioi seem alright so far, but why is Fumi's Dad so unreliable whenever Fumi needs him to sort his shit out? What a coincidence... (I smell plot device... In fact, he reeks of plot device...)
I also feel that clichés are being used, perhaps recycled from HnR (perhaps that's just what Yamamori's into (RE: Age gaps)?), but also just the whole 'servant-master' spiel... Though of course, it's an exciting relationship with some really exciting dynamics, but these kind of 'traditionally shoujo' relationships could hamper any kind of creativity perhaps? So far, the vibrant characters seem not to fall into this trap, but at the end of the day, what you're looking at is a servant-master relationship as well as the potential for a love... shape... with every male in the novel.
Though, perhaps I'm being too critical, it is early days and character development, like Rome, isn't built in a day. (So, watch this space?!)
Okay, so I've said the story and characters are a far cry from perfection, but that doesn't mean the enjoyment isn't there. Maybe the genre has a lot to do with it, maybe Yamamori is just really good at being a mangaka or maybe the gags do it for me... Either way, the manga is pretty entertaining and keeps you wanting more (or keeps me wanting more at least). Sure it's somewhat typical in areas, but the twists and turns that occur naturally in the genre as well as through Yamamori's writing is really makes the manga feel whole (so far). Should it continue on this path of straightforward plot with little development, then maybe the entertainment factor will decrease, but so far, it's a good read -and that's really the crux of a manga.
Overall, I think it's good. Maybe I'm criticising it too much for it adhering to its genre (something I shouldn't really complain about), but there are some really good points about this manga even factoring the cliché bits in! I feel like Yamamori has good writing ability, and this might just be another hit like HnR...!