Tramps Like Us, written by Yayoi Ogawa, is a manga driven powerfully by the idea of what is considered to be an acceptable match between a Japanese man and woman. Tramps Like Us is a josei manga. If shoujo manga were the peppy cosplaying high school student, josei would be her single older chain smoking aunt who has a shoddy view on life at best. It features Sumire Iwaya, a tall and beautiful business woman who is perceived as cold hearted by her colleagues.
She suffers from depression and anxiety after her fiance called off their wedding and a demotion at work. Her fiance was threatened by her higher height, status and pay grade (the three highs that japanese women look for in a male partner) and left her for somebody more suited to his societal level. This of course, bums Sumire out to no end. I know this sounds like the happiest story in the world, but bare with me.
Now that you have the set up for the huge bummer that Sumire is in her life, let me set up the little bit that gives this manga what I like to call the ‘manga factor.’ That little twist in the plot that is just strange enough to work:
Sumire finds a young homeless man in a box outside her house. He reminds her of a dog she used to have named, Momo. She then agrees to let him live there as long as her pet. She names him Momo.
I am going to let that sink in. She is now keeping this young man as a pet.
Anyways, so that’s pretty much the set up of the story, as you can tell there will be issues that ensue, especially when she starts dating (NO SPOILERS FOR YOU!)
As for the technical sides, the artwork is wonderful. The characters all have a strange sensual feeling to them that match the mood of the story quite well. The clean lines and natural placement and movement of characters throughout the story really help you to forget what you are reading is drawn.
The storyline is what drew me in, however. The plot seems like it is a bad porn set up, however the characters are all so deep. Every single one of them is human. There is no set bad guy or good guy, they just are well developed characters with pretty neutral morality just like us. It’s easy to latch onto one character and identify with them, which will undoubtedly send you on a whirlwind of emotions throughout the manga (Sumire is my personal favorite as the heroine).
This is by no means a manga for the kids. The subject matter is heavy (although it does have some humorous parts) and can get pretty steamy at times. It’s a wonderful 14 volume series and comes highly recommended by yours truly.
Also, just to let you guys know, we are going to be making the manga recommends into MANGA MONDAYS!
So stay tuned to find out what new manga I have to recommend next!
Next week: Something for the men to really enjoy