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.