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Gokinjo Monogatari
by Master_M2K on September 13th, 2009, 12:45pm

Rating - 8.4 / 10.0

User rating of this review - N/A out of 5
Story/Plot - 4.5 out of 5
Characters - 4.5 out of 5
Drawing Style - 4 out of 5
Enjoyment - 4 out of 5
Overall - 4 out of 5

Click here for series information

Ai Yazawa is a mangaka renowned for her diverse range of shoujo manga and here you’ll see the manga that influenced both Paradise Kiss and Nana. Gokinjo Monogatari is a Shoujo, Romance, Comedy Drama that shows an interesting take on dependency however it’s rife with humour that can ruin even the most serious moments.

Plot / Story
Just as you’d expect, the story is set in an Art Institute where Mikako Kouda, our eccentric heroine, is able to study fashion design to her hearts content. Although it is known that Mikako hasn’t had the best childhood one can imagine but what has helped her along the way is the support from her childhood friend Tsutomu. This short synopsis does feel like it has been pull out of the “anime cliché” filing cabinet, since a romance story about childhood friends is a fairly common commodity. On the other hand the artistic elements were implemented well enough, so even people who aren’t into art & fashion design are able to appreciate it and even if the story is cliché it does take a few interesting turns that the reader wouldn’t expect.

This mostly had to do with the characters who each had there appealing and unappealing sides. Like this story’s heroine the reader is supposed to empathize with (Mikako), who was cute but personally I just didn’t like her self-centred personality. The good thing is that her and all the other characters around her develop, as they learn more about life’s hardships; and what makes this manga truly remarkable is how it takes a break from the two main characters in order to spend a fair amount of time developing some of the side characters, giving them a story of their own.

Drawing Style
The artistic design is certainly able to capture these moments fairly well, including the eccentric style in the earlier 90s. Unfortunately since this is one of Ai’s earlier works, the artwork does suffer from lack of detail. This in turn makes it difficult to tell similar looking characters apart and inconsistencies in the character designs don’t help one bit.

Overall / Enjoyment
Overall Gokinjo Monogatari is an interesting mix of romance, comedy and drama that has been crudely sewn together. I say this because even though each side of the manga was individually well made, in the end it couldn’t come together as a whole and I believe the comedy is at fault. Sure there’s a whole lot of laughable comedy in this but the mangaka really made it into a running gag to take digs out of her own work (just for lulz) and after a while it became excessive. Good thing the whole “dependency” theme was played off more subtly and didn’t detract from the more prominent “artistic” theme of the story. So if you’ve seen and enjoyed anything made by Ai Yazawa, then check this out. It may not be as good as her newer stuff but it’s a great read for anyone who enjoys a good shoujo/romance.
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