By: Yuu Watase
I am honored to be selected for one of LitaKino’s Collaborations. She asked me on Twitter if I’d be interested in collaborating on a special manga post. And of course, I said, “Yeah.” The collaboration consists of picking a manga to read for one another, and writing a review on it.
For her choice, I picked something that isn’t a manga, instead it’s a webtoon. I figured since she usually reads manga, I wanted to change it up a bit, and see what she thinks about a webtoon. I wanted her to experiment with another medium of entertainment. So I picked Nineteen, Twenty-One because it is a romantic, slice of life story between two people who just met. Also, there are cats which makes the story kind of cute (even though I am not a cat person.) Anyways, I hope you enjoy the webtoon. If you want to read her review on it, check it out.
Now the manga she picked for me is Imadoki!, which is the first manga she ever read. Now the only other manga I read by Yuu Watase is Absolute Boyfriend and I heard of the Fushigi Yuugi franchise, but I never watched it or read it (maybe I should some time). Anyways, Imadoki! is about a girl, Yamazaki Tanpopo, who starts a new life in Tokyo as a student at Meio Academy. When visiting her school prior to the first day, she encounters a guy, Kugyou Kouki, who is replanting a Tanpopo (dandelion). He was very friendly and polite to her, but when they met again on the first day of school, he acted cold and distant. She learns that Kouki is the son of the owner of Meio Academy, and that there is a social hierarchy in the school. And Tanpopo is at the bottom of that hierarchy due to her commoner background.
In order to break the social hierarchy and make new friends, she creates the Garden Club. Her club slowly attracts the attention of Saionji Tsukiko and Kouki as well as other classmates and begins to grow. Kouki and Tanpopo develop a more romantic relationship with each other, but things are complicated when Kouki already is in an arranged marriage.
Now, I have seen so many shoujo manga that involve social hierarchy, which is a sensitive topic to discuss. In order to express such dissatisfaction towards social structures, the school is a perfect setting. In school, individuals can easily be categorize and labeled into certain groups and factions based on behavior or physical appearance. For example, there are jocks, geeks, popular people, and etc. Yet instead of using these terms to define people in a shoujo manga, it is always their social standing and family background that defines an individual. The more money or family power you have, the more important and popular you are. Through a school setting, one could easily express their dislike towards this social hierarchy. A school setting can allow such reformation to be shown with ease; in which calls forth the breaking of divisions among people. Tanpopo’s Garden Club does that. Her club brings together classmates from all types of backgrounds, where they are able to learn life lessons and become fine young adults.
Speaking of the club, I would also like to discuss the various symbolism involving gardening and plants. “Tanpopo” means dandelion in Japanese, and her name’s meaning implies certain characteristics she has. Dandelions are common and annoying weeds that invade the other beautiful plants and flowers’ territories. They are a nuisance and is disliked by many people. As one could see, Tanpopo’s presence in Meio Academy is an annoyance to the other students because she seems to cling onto Kouki, the richest and most popular boy in school. She is a weed among all her “beautiful” classmates.
Furthermore, the Garden Club’s plants are a representation of the club members; in which both the plants and the members are developing and growing alongside one another. Through the manga, Tanpopo and the Garden Club members are face with various young adult issues and as a group, they try to overcome and solve these problems together. These characters learn to make their own decisions, and pave a path for themselves in life.
Overall, Imadoki! has all the typical elements of a shoujo romance. There wasn’t anything new or special about it, but if you want a quick shoujo read, pick this one up.
I would like to thank LitaKino for letting me join her collaboration project. It is a great honor, and I really appreciate it. We should do this again sometime! 🙂