Friday, October 24, 2014

Book-A-Day 2014 #295: No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular!, Vol. 5 by Nico Tanigawa

I might not have anything more to say about Tomoko Kuroki. She's a wonderful, glorious character -- deeply conflicted as a misanthrope who wants people to like her and a girl who wants a boyfriend despite the fact that she's so socially anxious she can't talk to anyone -- but I've already written about the first four books of this series, and said there the things I might say here.

Tomoko is back in No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular!, Vol. 5, which sees her begin her second high school year with the additional burden of her younger brother Kuroki joining her there as a first-year. (As always, No Matter is by a team of two manga-ka that work under the single name "Nico Tanagawa.") She's still not socially adept in any way, and still obsessed with sex in the least useful ways, but she understands herself better by this point, which makes the stories less immediately lacerating.

Tomoko spends her time alone -- no matter how many people are around her -- partially because she prefers that, and partially because she's just no good at interacting with others. (Real life is sadly different from her beloved dating sims: there's no one right answer to unlock the next level, and real people frustratingly refuse to follow any scripts.) But she's setting less lofty goals in these stories -- using a point system to force herself to talk to people, bringing her grades back up to average to avoid cram school, making a funny introduction to the class at the beginning of the year -- and more or less hitting those goals, which is a big win for her.

Of course, she's also trying to get "ahead" of other girls in her class by image-searching for "d*cks" -- during class, no less -- and accidentally impersonating a flasher at a local park, so don't expect things to go smoothly for her. She's as awkward and introverted as ever, and even her reasonable, sensible plans are not massive successes.

But there is hope for Tomoko: she seems more satisfied with herself and more centered by this point, without the naked yearning of the first couple of volumes. It's a hard road, but it's just possible that our little Tomoko is growing up. And I'm happy to continue to check in with her as she does, hoping that she will someday get that boyfriend and happy life...even if I'm sure she'll never be "popular."

Book-A-Day 2014 Introduction and Index

No comments:

Post a Comment