Imadoki! Vol. 1

By Yű Watase
200 pages, black and white
Published by Viz

Long-time readers of these reviews might have figured out by now that I’m a big fan of Yu Watase. From her most famous series Fushigi Yugi, to more recent books like Ceres, Celestial Legend and Alice 19th, if a new Watase series is released in English, I’m ready to take a look. Her new series Imadoki! (which means “Nowadays”) really surprised me, though, because there’s one thing that sets it apart from the other Watase series released in English. Unlike all of her other books, Imadoki! is set entirely in the real world.

Tanpopo Yamazaki is just about to start attending the Meio Academy, home primarily to the children of rich parents who use connections to gain those elusive admissions. Tampopo is from a poor family, though, and got in the old-fashioned way: qualifying through high test scores. Now she’s going to a school where most people look down on her, and the only friend she thought she had acts very differently when he’s around anyone other than her. There’s only one thing Tanpopo can do: start a horticulture club.

Tanpopo is in many ways the archetypal Watase character; she’s full of energy, high spirits, and refuses to give up no matter what is thrown at her. It’s a necessity to have those qualities in Imadoki!, thanks to the constant stream of abuse that’s thrown in her direction from her classmates. It would almost be over the top if it wasn’t for the fact that we do occasionally see more than just a face of spite directed at her. Instead Watase slowly shows us what’s really going on, as a new generation is trapped inside the same patterns of greed and power that their parents taught them. That’s where Tanpopo is really refreshing, refusing to get pulled into their little games and instead shattering rules everywhere she goes. Seeing her defiantly ignore Tskuiko’s attempts to make them hate each other made me actually laugh out loud, and I think that’s exactly the reaction that Watase wanted. Best of all, though, is the fact that Watase chose to keep Imadoki! free of all sorts of magic or other supernatural elements. While I really like her other series, it’s nice to see that she doesn’t have to rely on spells or celestial beings to keep a story moving forward; she’s taken the heart of her writing and proven that it can stand on its own and without embellishment.

While the story in Imadoki! is slightly different from Watase’s normal genre, the art is pure Watase. It’s all there: lush hair, radiant expressions on faces, and a strong sense of movement. Watase is easily one of the top “shojo” comic artists of those translated into English, and it’s easy to see why; her characters are meticulously drawn and manage to look attractive without being overly so. Watase has a lot of fun with lots of little background details in the Imadoki! art, like having little bursts of stars appear around Tanpopo as she confronts Koki, or having checkerboard patterns form panel borders. It’s just little things here and there, but it keeps the pages alive and hopping, letting you never know what you’re going to see next.

Imadoki! is another definite hit for Watase; it’s got all of the strengths of her other series, but goes a step further by discarding fantasy trappings to focus exclusively on the relationships between her characters. I don’t think Watase fans will miss the fantasy elements for long once they see that it’s such a fun introduction to the new series. If you’ve liked Watase’s other books, or are merely wondering what all the fuss is about, Imadoki! is definitely waiting for you.

Purchase Links: Amazon.com

3 comments to Imadoki! Vol. 1

  • Jason Santa

    I ?Love? imadoki!!
    i sooooo can draw Tanpopo now and i’ve been trying different ways to draw her and shes my favorite character.
    Imadoki was the first manga i ever bought.
    At first when i started reading my eyes couldn’t leave the book till i finished it.
    I was soooo addicted to it and i still am!!!
    o.o LOL
    ?Love Imadoki Forever? ^.^ *Smiles*

  • Karen

    I REALLY LOVE READING IMADOKI!!!!!!

  • Jenny

    I really love dis book i really want the other 3