Imadoki Vol. 1
Written and drawn by Yu Watase
VIZ June 2, 2004
$9.95 208 Pages
Imadoki which according to the creator translates to "Nowadays" or means to her "The Present is the most precious time" marks a departure for the creator. Known mainly for sf and fantasy series like Ceres: Celestial Legend this series instead offers a straight forward story about life for a young teenage girl starting off at a new high school in Tokyo.
Tanpopo, which also means dandelion and is a good description of her character, is a high energy teen girl from a small town. She loved where she was, but felt the need to test herself in the big city's high school world.
When sneaking into her high school a day early to see what it is like, she literally crashes into a young male who is also a student there. After some initial consternation they commiserate over a flower the boy is planting, making Tanpopo happy that she has finally found a friend.
Or so she thinks at least, until the next day when the boy and the rest of the school completely snub her. It turns out that the boy is Koki Kugyo, whose family has bank rolled the school and thus is worshipped by his fellow students and the faculty.
Tanpopo's attempts at friendship with him causes her no end to trouble, from both him and his "friends", who see her as bothering him.
His only dealings with people, is with those wanting something from him. So his idea of friendship is only in terms of what others can do for him. Given Tanpopop's lack of money or influential family connections, he sees no reason to be friends with her. Because he doesn't think there is anything she can offer him.
I've had dealings with people like that before, who only think in terms of what others can do for them. Seeing such an honest and direct take on it was interesting.
It was also interesting to see that Tanpopo doesn't just accept this, and go away. She sees something in him that she wants to get to know. So she sets out to prove herself to him, not to change him or lesson herself, but to show him that she too is worthy of being known.
This is an interesting take on the concept of friendship that you don't see too often in comics. Rather than the usual take of "I'll teach him/her to be a better person." It accepts that people are different, and that if you see something in someone else that you think is worth getting to know you must accept their (as you perceive them) faults as well as those things you like about them.
Which makes this manga something to learn from, as well as a fun read that I look forward to seeing more of.