Anime Review

Anime Hajime Review: Comic Girls

Original Run: April 5, 2018 - June 21, 2018
Number of Episodes: 12
Genre: Comedy, Slice of Life
Based on the Series Created By: Kaori Hanzawa

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Comic Girls. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

Kaoruko Moeta (voiced by Hikaru Akao) is an aspiring manga artist who specializes in four-panel comic strips. Unfortunately, “specializes” is a bit generous. Try as she might, Kaoruko can’t seem to hit upon a concept that resonates with readers.

Hoping a change in environment will get her out of her slump, Kaoruko moves to a Tokyo based dormitory which houses many up and coming manga artists. Although it is for the sake of her passion, this is a big step for the timid Kaoruko. To her relief, though, her fellow housemates soon become her best friends.

Koyume Koizuka (voiced by Kaedo Hondo) is an energetic romantic who draws shojo manga. Ruki Irokawa (voiced by Saori Onishi) loves cute things, but to her chagrin, is highly skilled with more adult imagery. Tsubasa Katsuki (voiced by Rie Takahashi) is a successful shonen manga artist who often goes to great lengths to create her stories.

Kaoruko, Koyume, Ruki, and Tsubasa have their own styles. However, their goal is the same. These four wish to better their craft and pen the next great manga for their fans to enjoy. With these artists supporting one another, their dream is sure to become a reality.

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Series Positives

Comic Girls was solid. If you are a fan of slice-of-life anime, then there is a high chance you are going to like this series.

To start this review off, there are a few things you shouldn’t expect from this show if you do decide to watch it.

First, don’t be expecting anything groundbreaking. However, don’t assume you are going to get just the standard either. There was enough to Comic Girls that allowed it to stand out. This series was a lovely little gem that embraced what makes slice-of-life anime fun.

Second, if you want a look into how manga gets made, please look somewhere else. This is speculation on my part since I am not one, but Comic Girls oversimplified the amount of stress manga authors are under to create a quality product and still meet their deadlines. That said, this show was based off a four-panel comic strip. I don’t know why anyone would think they would be getting an in-depth look into the life of a mangaka from this series.

Third, don’t expect the easy route.

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To focus more on the second point: Manga creation was at the heart of this series.

Although I said Comic Girls wasn’t a detailed look at the stressful life of manga artists, I never said this show avoided the subject. Manga and manga writing were never sidelined. This was a topic that was always on the characters’ minds. There was never an episode that didn’t touch on the matter. Any misplaced expectations may come from the fact this series didn’t focus on the more public aspects of manga, i.e., the stories and artwork.

Besides main character Kaoruko, we only ever got the tiniest of glimpses at what the other girls, Koyume, Ruki, and Tsubasa, were working on. When watching, you need to simply accept these girls were talented artists and writers. We only got snippets of their illustrations and virtually nothing of their stories. Luckily, this series wasn’t reliant on these aspects.

The creative process itself was at the core of Comic Girls. This series focused less on what the girls created and more on what inspired them to create. That led this show into doing many of the typical slice-of-life activities you would expect: beach episodes, trips to an amusement park, day-to-day school stress, etc.

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If Comic Girls only had these standard events, that would have been fine. Everything would have been a lot plainer, but still fine nonetheless. Fortunately, this series wasn’t content with fine. This show had these stereotypical moments mean something to the girls and their work. You could see how the world around Kaoruko, Koyume, Ruki, and Tsubasa influenced the manga they wrote.

This helped turn Comic Girls into something worth checking out. That is why I made it a point to list what not to expect out of this show. I wouldn’t want you to get disappointed over something that was never promised and miss out on what was actually going on.

To reiterate, this series had the qualities that make for a fun slice-of-life anime. If you have been following Anime Hajime for a while, you know that these types of series don’t have much of a story to rely on. There are not many complications or obstacles that threaten to derail everything. And if we are assuming you have been following this site, you also know precisely what these type of shows need to rely on to remain engaging.

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The Characters

I say it all the time in my slice-of-life reviews. Series like Comic Girls can only rely on characters. Comedy, excitement, drama, everything must come from the cast. If they fail, everything else fails with them. Similarly, if the characters are interesting, funny, and likable, everything else tends to fall into place.

Thus, when I say Comic Girls rises above others in the same genre, what I mean is this series took the time to get to know its characters.

I was impressed by how three-dimensional Kaoruko, Koyume, Ruki, and Tsubasa were by the end of this show. There was a lot more to each of them than their introductions suggested. At the beginning of this series, each of the four main girls started as a textbook slice-of-life character.

Kaoruko was timid, shy, and lacked confidence. Koyume was energetic and bubbly. Ruki was mature and motherly. Tsubasa was stoic and sure. If someone had told me all this before I sat down to watch this series, I would have said I had heard the exact descriptions of Hidamari Sketch’s four main characters, Yuno, Miyako, Hiro, and Sae respectively.

Although the girls of Comic Girls never lost these basic traits, as this series went forward, we learned there was a lot more to each of them. These revelations led to some of the best moments of the entire show.

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To give you an idea, Kaoruko, Koyume, Ruki, and Tsubasa were acutely aware of the disconnect between their workspace and their fans. The girls usually only ever saw their creations from the creator’s viewpoint. It was hard for them to conceptualize what their manga meant to the people who enjoyed them.

The times in this series when this disconnect actually connected were fantastic. One of my favorites was when Ruki had her first signing event. Given the type of manga she wrote – erotica – Ruki tended to forget why people read her work. Ruki may have had a knack for drawing lewd pictures, but first and foremost, she was an exceptionally gifted romance author. It was the latter, not the former, that struck a chord with others.

When Ruki realized people looked up to her with respect and admiration, she at last found pride in her work.

This depth wasn’t reserved only for the main characters. Everyone in Comic Girls received some amount of growth that put them above the minimum. This extra bit of effort allowed this series to be funnier and more meaningful because there was more to the people we were following.

This attention to characterization allowed Comic Girls to be a lot more than a passing slice-of-life series.

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Series Negatives

Comic Girls was good, but it wasn’t perfect. This series, although a strong slice-of-life anime, still had many of the issues associated with this genre.

For instance, this show’s comedy was at its best when it was subtle. This is definitely a personal preference of mine, so take this next comment with a grain of salt. Loud, highly animated reactions to mundane observations and situations don’t do anything. Comic Girls, particularly in the beginning, had quite a few of these moments.

This kind of humor wasn’t distracting and was overshadowed by a ton of jokes that did land. However, due to this, there were plenty of points during this show where I realized Comic Girls would not win over people who are not fans of this type of anime. This series may get people interested in the slice-of-life genre, but I doubt there are going to be very many converts.

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Also, what Comic Girls could do was limited because it was trapped in a high school setting. Again, this was standard slice-of-life protocol, but some of this show’s least interesting moments came when we followed our four leads through their daily school lives.

To be fair, this school-life element wasn’t awful. Nevertheless, it was clear that this was not this series’ strength. Comic Girls slowed down during these parts.

Through and through, everything I’ve mentioned negative-wise was small. These were nothing more than little hiccups in an otherwise smooth ride. If these were the extent of this show’s problems, I would say we got off easy. Too bad, that wasn’t the case.

What I’m about to talk about wasn’t series breaking. Comic Girls always stayed fun and enjoyable. That said, Kaoruko’s constant self-deprecation was a lot to take in.

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I don’t know a nicer word to describe Kaoruko other than “pathetic.” Almost everything she did ended up going wrong. Our lead girl was clumsy, accident-prone, and generally useless when it came to performing simple tasks.

That notwithstanding, if this was the only thing going on I don’t think Kaoruko would have been that much of a buzzkill. It’s amazing what a touch of confidence can do. And that was the issue.

Before Kaoruko did anything, or even when she was simply having a conversation with her friends, she kept putting herself down. In her worldview, she was the most worthless person alive. From episode one to the end, this was nonstop.

Making the matter worse, Comic Girls almost gave Kaoruko an outlet to shine.

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Kaoruko was good with computers and electronics; more so than any of her friends.

Side note: This show came out in 2018. Can we stop it with teenage characters not knowing how a basic computer works?

This was Kaoruko’s chance to shine, and Comic Girls did nothing with it. This was a completely wasted opportunity that would have helped in a big way.

The silver lining was, Kaoruko remained hardworking. Although she felt inept, she was not a quitter. This keep-trying attitude paid off in this show’s final episodes. I still think this series went overboard with making its point, but I get what the end goal was.

Keep in mind. I am not saying that Kaoruko was a bad character. She may have been the least interesting of the cast, sure. Luckily, she was never close to ruining the outstanding job Comic Girls managed to do.

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Final Thoughts

This was solid.

If you like slice-of-life anime, then you’re really going to enjoy this one. It’s a cut above most. Granted, this series may not compare with some of the best of the best, but it has plenty of merit of its own to throw around.

The characters were outstanding and filled with personality. The focus was defined and consistent. This is a perfect show to sit down with at the end of a day. Yes, there was the occasional stumble, except this series was always able to stay on its feet.

Comic Girls is one I highly recommend.

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? What would be your advice concerning Comic Girls? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

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