Comic Girls

Comic Girls

Moeta Kaoruko (Pen name: Kaos) is 15 years old, a high school student and 4-panel manga artist! After moving to a dorm especially for female manga artists, she meets shojo manga artist Koyume, teen romance manga artist Ruki, and shonen manga artist Tsubasa. Every day, they’ll work all through the night trying to ink and finish their work! Her cute, funny life in a manga artist dorm is about to begin!

Kaoruko wants to make it in the manga business. Her style is short stories for 4-panel manga. She’s bright, she’s cheerful, she’s optimistic – and is completely devastated when she find out that her manga series has got the worst survey results ina recent poll. She doesn’t take it well and, since she looks so much younger than she is, she looks like a distressed young child. Her editor is concerned – Kaos’ storytelling and drawing abilities aren’t developing and can see that the realisation is hitting her hard. She recommends that Kaos go to live at a girl’s dorm for manga artists to accelerate her talent and renew her focus.

And so Kaos meets three other young, female manga artists and forms some fast friendships. They go shopping for art supplies, visit manga bookstores and go to the crepe shops. Kaos tries some new storylines but, despite her new ideas, feedback still says that her characters don’t act like teenage girls – despite the artist actually being one. But Koyume, Ruki and Tsubasa are there for her throughout her journey to become a more inspired manga artist.

Thankfully, the other three are a bit more successful than our Kaos, and the fact that they draw for different genres of manga means that they have their own sets of problems when approaching drawing. Ruki is terrified that someone will find out that she draws racy manga despite her young age; Tsubasa has to have a pen name that implies that she is male in order to not alienate her readers and Koyume really struggles with drawing boys, which is a big thing when you’re in shoujo manga.

The girls go on trips together for both research and social reasons, and at night they help each other stick to their tight editorial guidelines without falling behind on their schoolwork. It should be obvious by now that this show is primarily a ‘cute girls doing cute things’ story and often walks a fine line between creating real-life occurrences and social interactions between teenagers and using trope-driven comedy to further along the plot.

The artwork is an interesting focus, as you can see it changing into four different styles – there’s some significantly shoujo sparkles between Koyumi and  her girl-crush Tsubasa and ero scenes when the girls are in swimming costumes and underwear, with cameras spanning upwards from their knees. Then when Tsubasa gets serious, we can see action lines and the music tempo increases, like a shounen protagonist gearing up for a fight. Some scenes also cut away for the 4-panel manga style and include characters in their chibi forms, which also harks back to Comic Girls‘ origins as one.

The drawback to ‘cute girls doing cute things’ anime is that they have a propensity for fanservice. Now, a couple of quick ‘flashes’ doesn’t really bother me, but I get genuinely annoyed when there are elongated scenes of nothing but teenage breasts bouncing around on the beach. When I’m finally being drawn into the story and watching the interactions and struggles of young artists, the last thing I want to see is a beach episode, or a hot springs episode, as that can mean a kiss of death to substance. Not only can it be looked upon as cheap and gratuitous, but it also indicates that the content may struggle to las 10-12 episodes without one, which is disappointing.

Whilst Comic Girls isn’t offering me anything new, I still find it to be entertaining. I’m invested in Kaos’ journey to find out just what a teenage girl should be acting like and how her new friendships will influence her drawing style as well as her shy, anxious personality. Her behaviours easily endear her to a viewer and I’m hoping to see a significant personal transformation from her before the end of the series.