Comic Girls
Episodes 1-3

by Amy McNulty,

How would you rate episode 1 of
Comic Girls ?

How would you rate episode 2 of
Comic Girls ?

How would you rate episode 3 of
Comic Girls ?

At this point, it seems like cute anime girls have done just about everything. From the exciting to the mundane, there are very few activities they haven't tackled. Be it riding motorcycles, forming bands, or lazing around in ill-defined going-home clubs, teenage anime starlets are a prolific bunch. So it only makes sense for a cute-girls-doing-cute-things show to branch out into manga creation. The aptly-titled Comic Girls chronicles the easygoing misadventures of the residents of Bunhousha Dormitory, a boarding house intended exclusively for female mangaka. The dorm is slated for renovation in a year's time, and currently its only residents are main character Kaoruko “Kaos-chan” Moeta (an easily-embarrassed girl who specializes in four-panel comics), fellow newcomer Koyume Koizuka (an aspiring shojo mangaka who has trouble drawing male characters), Ruki Irokawa (a serialized creator who specializes in ero-manga despite wanting to make comics for children), and Tsubasa Katsuki (a serialized shonen manga artist with a penchant for taking cosplay way too seriously). Whether at home, at school, or in the city, these quirky high school mangaka will find a way to make any situation as awkward (and comedic) as possible.

Aside from the focus on manga creation, Comic Girls doesn't represent much of a departure from the many other CGDCT shows out there. While this isn't necessarily a bad thing, it does mean that the show is unlikely to hook viewers who aren't already fans of this particular genre. The visuals are crisp and colorful, the animation is relatively good, and the characters are all fun in their own right, but the same relationships, situations, and dynamics can be found in a slough of similar series. That said, if you're a fan of cute girl anime, you're likely to walk away entertained, as there are just enough original elements to make this a worthwhile viewing experience. In addition to providing some insight into how manga is made, the show features two principal characters who have already broken into their chosen field. Of course, Ruki and Tsubasa being able to write and draw serialized manga while attending school without the help of regular assistants is a pretty big stretch, but it's clear that the show isn't aiming for realism.

While each of the four main girls has a distinct personality, none of them are particularly original. That's okay—tropes are popular for a reason—but at the end of the day, these are all characters we've seen before. In fact, if you've seen Hidamari Sketch, another slice-of-life-series about four artistic friends occupying the same dormitory, you're liable to notice some stark similarities. Like Yuno, Kaos is perpetually nervous and lacking in confidence, often serving as a comic foil for the other characters. Koyume comes off as a pervy version of Miyako, the hyperactive and outspoken blonde best friend. Then there's the somewhat androgynous blue-haired cool beauty (Tsubasa) whose published work has a sizable fanbase. Ecchi mangaka Ruki is the only one who stands out, though there's the slightest echo of Hiro in her, due to her pre-established close relationship to Tsubasa. (However, a romantic component to the Ruki/Tsubasa relationship seems unlikely this point.) Hidamari Sketch isn't the only example of such archetypes, but it certainly seems to be the most relevant in this case.

At present, the camaraderie between the four main characters is the show's primary charm point. There's real tension in a scene where the girls scramble to help Tsubasa meet a deadline, and there's a genuine sense of relief when the group is able to pull through and support one another despite Kaos' mistakes. Even something as benign as shopping for manga supplies becomes interesting when the more experienced mangaka turn the excursion into a learning experience for their housemates. It's noteworthy that Kaos is the only one of the four who draws manga on a tablet, though this has yet to receive much focus. Since most anime and manga that deal with comic creation tend to focus almost exclusively on the ink-and-paper route, this helps the character stand out, as it allows her to be both a semi-experienced creator in her own right and a total newbie when it comes to learning the ropes of hand-drawn manga from her friends. The fanservice can be a little over-the-top, but not to the point of being gratuitous, though one segment in the third episode skirts that line. Ruki drawing ecchi manga professionally (despite being a minor) seems like a narratively appropriate excuse for the girls to strike erotic poses for her and compare body shapes and sizes, but the premise comes across as forced.

Comic Girls isn't the only readily available CGDCT anime out there, nor is it the only series to offer a behind-the-scenes look at manga creation. Still, the show is able to adeptly blend its key selling points to form a consistently entertaining, if slightly unoriginal slice-of-life comedy. Familiarity isn't always a bad thing, and while Comic Girls doesn't cover a lot of new ground, it seldom feels redundant.

Rating: B+

Comic Girls is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Amy is an author who has loved anime for over two decades.

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