This month's manga review is here!
Author: Yuu Watase
Title: Imadoki! Nowadays
Release period: 2004-2005
Publisher: VIZ Media
Reading level: FICTION – JUVENILE: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: around 200 pages in each volume
Availability: Should still be available by bigger sellers
Imadoki! (Nowadays) follows the trials and tribulations of a budding horticulturist as she makes her way down the winding road to friendship. From Yuu Watase, one of Japan's most beloved shojo artists, Imadoki! packs comedic charm and heartfelt antics into an adorable bouquet of whimsical fantasy.
For Tanpopo Yamazaki, life at the elitist Meio Academy seems way out of her league. The daughters of wealthy families snub her, other students make light of the fact that she actually tested into Meio instead of relying on family connections, and the cute boy she saw tending a dandelion the day before wouldn't even acknowledge her existence. Hoping to make friends and have some fun, Tanpopo starts up a gardening committee, but will this help her survive in a school where superficiality and nepotism reign supreme?
Oh my… this manga had a bunch of my most detested tropes all squished into 5 volumes of cliché and… it wasn’t even the good kind of cliché most of the time. Well, it wasn’t too bad, but it wasn’t entirely something awfully good either.
Yuu Watase is a very famous, praised and quite productive manga creator. She has a lot of fans and her manga Fushigi Yugi was one of the first really popular girl’s manga in English. Several other works from her repertoire have been translated, eg. Alice 19th, Ceres: Celestial Legend, Absolute Boyfriend, Arata: The Legend, etc, but Imadoki in my opinion isn’t even near her best.
So what makes it bad:
Love triangles – the banes of my reading life existence! And there’s not only one in this, but two, with one player varying in both. It really set my teeth on edge, not to mention, it also included arranged marriage to a nutter crazy girl. Plus, a heroine who was too naïve and innocent, albeit cute and sympathetic.
The evil fiancé was really incredibly annoying and I could have tolerated it if that part of the story would have passed quickly, but far too much time was dedicated to this psycho girl. People need to take lessons from her how to send others of such guilt trips with their behavior – she was just unbelievable.
There were simply too many misunderstood situations and a frustrating level of not communicating with each other. Also, due to those and other reasons the heroine gave up so easily even though she was inhumanly enthusiastic and bright eyed and thus should have had more of the don’t-give-up attitude.
The plot was just somewhat boring and fell flat, there wasn’t much excitement and even the antics of crazy girl fiancé annoyed me more than kept me on the edge of my seat.
And what makes it good:
The idea of the gardening club was fresh, original and sweet. I liked that there were a lot of connections related to plants and flowers and they were in some sense characters as well.
While the story was naïve, simplistic and juvenile, it suddenly surprises with the topics of teenage pregnancy, suicide and the burden of a family’s high expectations. I liked that those storylines brought about a more darker atmosphere and added edge to the overall lightheartedness of the series.
I generally like the rich boy/poor girl trope, but only if it’s done well and while this manga was so much like a certain favorite of mine in its premise (but like a poor man’s version) – Hana Yori Dango (Boys Over Flowers) – it was still executed nicely and enjoyably.
I liked the ending. It was cliché and may seem boring, but I thought it was slightly more original and very sweet.
Tanpopo – She was one of those happy-go-lucky innocent and kind souls and while I thought her at times funny and cute, I’m just tired of such heroines. They are, honestly speaking, dull. Her little pet fox was off the charts adorable though.
Kouki – A solemn reserved boy with a big burden on his shoulders that he lets take over his life. Also, kind of typical and dull.
Tsukino was my favorite from the bunch of characters, snarky, sneaky and hilarious, Aio was a nice change to the rest of the cast and Arisa was messed up, but that made her likable.
It just had so many aspects that I don’t like at all and so few good things to compensate. Not the best shoujo manga out there for sure. Maybe younger teenage readers will find this more enjoyable.
More covers from the series: