We have finished Comic Girls! Here are my notes on the last three episodes and also my final thoughts on the series as a whole. It ended up being another long one. I have a lot of notes.
Episode 10: Christmas in Japan is not a family holiday like in Christian countries. It’s a normal workday on which couples go on romantic dates. Kind of like Valentine’s Day. People throw parties, eat red-and-white cake and exchange small presents. Ruki’s problem with this holiday is that she doesn’t have a boyfriend to spend it with. Of course, she could just have a party with the girls and the matron, but as a romance manga author, she seems to not be content with that.
And so, her motivation to work (blue line) plummets and she hides from the world in her futon. Which is something I totally understand.
Since she was worrying about Christmas and not having a boyfriend to spend it with, Ruki managed to forget her own birthday. The girls baked her a cake, got her presents and surprised her with a party. From Kaos she got a Rukanyan Santa catgirl costume. At least the love and attention knocked her out of her funk.
Just after Christmas everyone is going home for New Year’s. In this segment we find out all about Tsubasa’s home situation. Her mother is a tyrant queen ruling the lives of her family’s members with an iron fist. Tsubasa is supposed to grown up to be a cultured young lady with all that it entails, whether it be playing the piano or embroidery. Western standards.
As is probably obvious, Tsubasa’s mother doesn’t support her manga endeavors. That I find a beautiful development. The most adamant and successful mangaka turns out to have family that discourages her from the career she has chosen and is good at. And while beautiful development is one thing, when this happens in real life, it’s a curse. If your family supports you in all your undertakings, do feel blessed as you are.
When the girls come back to the dorm, they go for a New Year’s shrine visit. Complete with kimonos, drawing fortunes and wishing on ema boards (below). I love how the kimonos suit the girls’ personalities. Especially Kaos-chan with her old-fashioned one and Tsubasa with a mens’ one.
At the dorm, the matron started a fire behind the building for burning all the rejected storyboards. Each girl approaches the cleansing ritual in her own way. Tsuu-chan thinks of her storyboards as her children and therefore has a hard time parting with them. Koyume gives up her failed storyboards in a flash in exchange for sweet potatoes. Ruki gets rid of all her “shameful” manga creations as soon as possible, so she doesn’t have much to burn. Meanwhile Kaos-chan is the biggest contributor to the fire with years’ worth of rejected manga.
You might have noticed the W in a rectangle on Tsubasa’s ema above and here you can see red Himeko in a rectangle. Do you know what these are? They are a traditional Japanese way of signing your work of art, be it a manga hero or a calligraphy piece. The Japanese don’t use signatures like Westerners, but small rectangular seals—(not necessarily unique) stamps with their name. Instead of signing for your delivery, you stamp the postman’s form.
It’s such a shame that this didn’t air around New Year’s, but in June. It’s such a good New Year’s episode!
Before jumping into the eleventh episode, I just wanted to bring your attention to these wall scrolls.
The eleventh episode opens with a view of a blank career questionnaire. The girls have to fill theirs in for school (normal practice in Japanese high schools) with at least two choices. Manga artist seems to obviously be first choice for all of them, though Kaos-chan isn’t too confident about it.
The matron steps in to tell her story. We already knew she used to be an aspiring mangaka in high school (along with Nijino-sensei and Amisawa-san), but she mostly retired. Her reason is something you might know from your own experience—once you become professional, you sometimes have to draw things you don’t enjoy as much. And that thinking of the business side of things just takes the joy out of the process. (Nijino-sensei became a high school teacher and Amisawa-san a manga editor. I wonder what their reasons were.) The matron still draws while taking care of the dormitory and its inhabitants. I suspect she still draws yuri, but who knows.
In the end, Tsubasa and Kaos put manga artist as both first and second choice; Ruki puts mangaka first and kindergarten teacher second and Koyume talks of taking over her family’s sweets shop, though her first choice is naturally manga artist as well.
I wonder what I would have put in my second year of high school… probably “enroll in a technical university”.
I don’t remember seeing this room before, but it’s beautiful. Especially the use of crooked beams. If you’re interested in traditional Japanese architecture, I wholeheartedly recommend Japanese Homes and Their Surroundings by Edward S. Morse. He talks about the carpenters utilizing every piece of wood, however imperfect in shape, which lends the house its uniqueness.
The weekend leading up to the closing of the dorm is spent clearing out the storage room full of mostly books, left behind by former student mangaka. There is something of interest for every girl. Mostly reference materials.
Kaos-chan works hard to have a storyboard accepted before the closing of the dorm. After all it has been a year since she came to live there and she would like to have made at least some progress. So she brings Amisawa-san four attempts at once.
Apparently, she tried drawing every other girl’s style: there is a romcom, something Koyume would draw; an eromanga, like Ruki draws; a shounen manga, which is obviously Tsubasa’s influence. The fourth and final storyboard is Kaos-chan’s own style. It’s about four girls, student mangaka, living in a dormitory together. And thus Comic Girls came to the world.
On to the twelfth and final episode! Part one of Kaos’ two-part insert was received well… especially the parts she didn’t draw. She was really cutting it close to the deadline, so the girls helped her out and did the backgrounds.
Since the dorm is being torn down, everyone is leaving (having finished their manuscripts early) and Kaos is left alone with the matron and a manuscript for part two to finish. This time, without the help from her friends. All of this leaves Kaos unable to eat, having nightmares and most importantly paralyzed when it comes to working on her manuscript. She opens the file and freezes up.
Amisawa-san calls in to check up on her progress and Kaos-chan, the crybaby she is, bursts into tears. She is lonely without the other mangaka.
While Kaos still hasn’t made progress on her second part, her mother comes to pick her up a week early. Looking through old photos of herself and talking to her mother lifts Kaos’ spirits. She realizes drawing has been the only thing she has been good at since forever. It is the only activity that didn’t have the power to make her cry.
Contrasted with Tsubasa’s mother, Kaos’ mom is a (Japanese) angel. She supports her tiny Kaoruko every step of the way, always doting on her.
Unfortunately not even maternal support gets Kaos-sensei out of her paralyses. Only friendship has that power—when the girls message her that they’ve bought the magazine with her first published manga, she finally cheers up. Does that mean she has hit puberty, the time of humans’ lives, when friends are more important than your mother?!
Final thoughts: Although it was entertaining in a different way than expected, it was superb. The characters turned out to have complex personalities, even Fuura-senpai. The slice-of-life-ness was upheld and there were no dramatic attempts to save the dorm or anything like that. I still wish we had learned more about manga and the drawing processes, including the differences between traditional and digital drawing.
Anyway, a new dorm has been built and we would love to see a second season! Rated 8/10.