Manic Manga: Rokomoko

Rokomoko

Rokomoko

Title: Rokomoko
Alternate Titles: ロコモコ, Roko Moko, Roko-Moko
Author & Artist: Ueda Miwa
Year: 2011
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance, School Life, Shoujo
Volumes: 02 (Complete)
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Description:
Hiroko never had the experience of having a boyfriend. She started recently to lie to her childhood fried Tomoko who pretends that she had a lot of of boyfriends….

Then Hiroko starts to have feelings for Takeru who’s in the broadcasting club like her. But when she tried to approach him at the school festival, she suddenly discovers the truth…All information comes from Manga Updates. This blog post will contain spoilers so please be read after the cut if you’ve already read the manga.

This is a cute short little story about a girl who has a complex about her mole (that apparently everyone thinks is a slut for it for some reason or another) and a complex about her younger childhood friend. When they were small, Hiroko always protected Tomoko when she was younger from bullies and always had the intelligence but Tomoko, on the other hand, hit puberty earlier than her, despite being two years younger, and already had a string of boyfriends while Hiroko… not so much.

For what it is, it’s fine. One could relate to the characters some way or another – there are some bits here and there that’s typical of Miwa Ueda (a good girl with a bad stereotype falling in love with the wrong guy and there’s always another guy in the mix somehow and the female best friend tends to be the real antagonist) but its a lot less complex than her other stories.

For most of the manga, we’re stuck in Hiroko’s point of view during the events of the manga not really in the others. We do kinda see Takeru’s point of view here and there but it’s not much. Hiroko isn’t a bad person by any means – she’s just jealous. And that’s understandable, especially when someone younger than you surpasses you in things that, in one’s mind, should have already happened.

The problem with this manga is that it, once again, falls into the typical story-telling the author usually falls into but at least the twist this time isn’t as foreboding or sets women against each other over a man and the good guy actually remains a good guy. Surprisingly, the end focused more on the relationship between Tomoko and Hiroko and the Takeru thing happened at the end.

Though, it’d be nice if the manga mostly focused on that instead of Hiroko trying to one up Tomoko for most of the manga but I can’t complain too much. The pacing itself was fine and, especially because of it’s low volume count, it didn’t feel that rushed. There are side characters that do show up but they’re not that prominent in the story and they really didn’t need to be.

Hiroko’s number one complex was her mole, so much so, that she started to save up for a mole extraction but eventually, especially after she realized that it’s not a big deal but Takeru’s right – she could use her beauty mark for good instead of the perceived evil. It would have been nice for Tomoko or one of Hiroko’s other friends to say something like that but maybe she didn’t listen to them before Takeru did and before she understood what he meant.

Again, there really isn’t a big twist but there are some decent dramatic moments. Tomoko apparently had been cornered by some girls because Tomoko was seen with her ex-boyfriend (the girl’s current boyfriend) and Hiroko defended her. Before, Hiroko and Takeru had received theme park tickets conveniently ending the next day  but everyone was busy (plus, Hiroko hadn’t revealed her lie about the boyfriends at this point) so it was just the two of them.

Naturally, Tomoko was upset about what Hiroko did and accused her of being the other woman. Hiroko did apologize and did tell her they only went as friends and tried to avoid typical couple stuff as much as they could.

But Takeru did cross the line as he whispered, “I love you” in Hiroko’s ear as a way to tease her.

It’s a little unrealistic, the ending, in the sense that Tomoko decided to break up with Takeru right after her exams and after how hard she desperately wanted to keep Takeru away from the boy crazy Hiroko. It would have been a little bit better if she waited a bit more but at the same time, it’s best to end it early before anything else could happen.

Not only that, Hiroko’s own confidence grew since she started this broadcasting club.  I only wished it wasn’t completely shoujo in the way that it ended so she could at least move on with her own life but this ending is fine. It’s not completely horrible but it’s not completely fantastical either – which is a nice balance.

I’ve always liked Miwa Ueda’s art, even the comedy bits as it tends to flow pretty naturally, especially for the characters she writes about. If anything, I wish this manga followed Tomoko a little bit more as well. We knew that she always had trouble with studies and that she was always jealous of Hiroko’s intellect but it feels rather pointless since it’s kind of moot anyway (Hiroko is two years older than her so of course she’s going to be a couple of grades ahead) and it felt rather forced.

Rather than focus on her relationships, with boys, it would have been better for Tomoko to actually show her jealousy for that intellect rather than just say, “Yeah, I ran away because you’re so much smarter than me!” or “Yeah, I ran away because you have everything!” But then, Tomoko isn’t really known for being logical much anyway…

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