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Manga title begins: S-T-U, [MANGA TALK]

[Manga Talk] Tsubomi-chan, Wasure Mono nai? by NAKAYAMA Noriko (中山乃梨子)

Tsubomi-chan, Wasure Mono nai?
模擬家族趣事多 / 蕾ちゃん,忘れモノない?
by
NAKAYAMA Noriko (中山乃梨子)
Complete: 6 volumes
OK. Here’s the  spoiler: Look away now if you are after some bishonens and bishojos here….
I am not entirely sure if any reader would see Yuki (our male protagonist) as a manga/ shojo “hot-shot”, but apparently he was supposed to be very popular amongst every female (living or dead) in this series. As for Tsubomi-chan (i.e. our female protogonist)…. well, I guess one may find her sweet or even cute, but only if you are prepared to overlook her HUGE pair of eyes (and frankly, I thought she was a “goldfish look-alike”  sometimes……).
BUT put those aside (as per usual), I did actually enjoy reading the series A LOT! I bought the manga books back in 2004 (or 2005??) when it was first released.. Few years on, it still grows strong on me; I am still finding some parts of the story quite touching and comedic. I guess it was the unusual setting of the story that made it so appealing to me in the first place.

Story:
Tsubomi has always wanted to escape from the pressure exerted by her single mother. One day, she met a strange old man, who turned out to be the “grandpa” of the Ariake household. The Ariake family was actually made-up by a few “strangers”, each of whom played the role of a family member and Tsubomi-chan was to become one of the them! There, Tsubomi-chan has rediscovered the long-lost feeling of love and being loved.

My say:
Albeit its comedy genre, there is a serious tone in the story. Yes, there was this obvious high expectation set by a single mother, which our “heroine” was constantly trying hard but struggling to meet….  So at the early beginning of the chapters, we were introduced to this girl who has a very weak personality (and a bit sad basically).
It was during Tsubomi’s few months of staying with the Ariake family, from her interactions with other family members and her romance with Yuki, that we saw Tsubomi was gradually being developed into a much stronger character. So in the end, instead of being a typical escapist as she had always been in the past, Tsubomi finally took up the courage to go to her mother and spilled out her feelings and her own plan for the future…
As for the other characters, well, just like Tsubomi-chan, each of the Ariake family members had their own stories to tell in the series : ) In particular, I love grandpa’s story with its very touching ending (which was also the drive for him to, then, set up the Ariake family…).
As for Yuki… well, he was just a selfish brat.
Ok, that sounds harsh… may be a childish coward (?), who was too afraid to show off his feelings for Tsubomi-chan (even after they had sex!). But lucky for Yuki, Tsubomi-chan, who had learned to confront rather than escape from a problem, had managed to salvage their relationship… I am just glad to see Yuki had finally grown up and confronted his own demon. In the end, he was being strong enough to support Tsubomi as she prepared to meet her mother……
With everyone’s demons gone, the tone of the story soon tuned to become much more cheerful an sweet : )
As far as the rest of Ariake household was concerned, Yuki and Tsubomi-chan were still “brother and sister”. Tsubomi was trying desperately to conceal her relationship with Yuki from the “family”, since she was still seriously concern that she would have to leave the house otherwise. The devilish Yuki, on the other hand, found it amusing to tease her at any opportunity – from telling everyone (incl. Tsubomi-chan!) that he was going out with a mysterious girl called “Candy”… to teasing her to make love at any place possible just to embarrass her!

Yes you lot! There were indeed some moments of smuts… but not to a great deal to satisfy a hungry audience though! 😉

The concept of the story was very weird to begin with, and it’s unusual (I just suppose it’s not THAT often, especially in a Japanese society, when strangers would come together in a home, which is not a foster home btw, and start calling each other papa/ mama/ brother/ sister, etc. … then again, I could be wrong : ) Given its “unusal-ness”, NAKAYAMA has done well for not losing the plot and has managed well to carry it through to the end.
In fact, I am very satisfied with its ending. Quote from NAKAYAMA’s freetalk in Volume 6, re if Tsubomi-chan  would be strong enough at the end to pretend nothing had happened and return home with her mother: “About (someone’s) feeling (of love and being hurt/ conflict)…. this is not something that could be changed or deleted simply after a short period time. It’d take time to see the changes in their emotions and the  feelings between Tsubomi-chan and her mother…….. Do they have to be (living) together, just by the fact that they were family and they were blood-related? Not necessialy so…… “because of being apart, they learned to be more considerate (and respect) in their relationship……
You see, that’s why I love reading a good shojo manga, especially since its creator(s) has put so much thought and effort in the story itself. Regardless of whether or not anyone actually agrees (or understands!)  NAKAYAMA’s philosophy, her careful consideration would be greatly appreciated.  : )
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