July 12, 2013

You would be forgiven if you are guessing from the title that this anime is about a cross-dressing character or a weird person who has both genders. Or maybe a man who acts like a girl. Yeah. Misleading, isn’t it? Mangirl is actually the shortened form of manga girl and this again feels a little misleading. It is not a girl who is going to do what the famous pair of Ashirogi Muto is going to do in Bakuman. Instead, this short anime that lasts 3.5 minutes is about a group of girls working as an amateur editorial department for a manga magazine. In the highly competitive world of manga and anime, it is a wonder to see how these girls are going to survive their jobs seeing that they have zero experience. These are the trial and tribulations of the girls as they work through in what they love most, meeting deadlines and participating in promotional activities while learning the tricks of the trade to achieve their goal of making the biggest manga magazine in Japan. Sounds like fun? Not if you’re the one who is doing all the hectic work.

Episode 1
Hana Sasayama despite not knowing much about storyboards, becomes an editor of a new manga magazine company, Comic Earth Star. She enlists her friend, Aki Torii to be the vice editor but she declines no matter what. Till Hana threatens to spread rumours about White Autumn. Sudden change of heart, eh? And the rest of the quirky staffs come streaming in. Tsugumi Haraki who found her way here by following the trail of snacks and manga lover Ringo Nishijima who despite is pessimistic this company will last, still agrees to work with them. Because they can’t secure some trademark, their magazine will be called Monthly Comic Earth Star. They discuss the revenues and costs. And though it may seem they are making millions by selling cheap and in large quantity, be reminded that the other distribution costs and other expenses will eat them all up and it will cause them to be in the red. Hana thinks the thick pages of the magazines can be used as pillow and paperweight after that. Not even funny… They need to start off with 15 series and start looking around for 15 manga artists. No such luck. Many declined and some even though showed their storyboard decided to go with the more established company. Thankfully they manage to secure artists for the series. Don’t go into celebration mode just yet till you release your first issue.

Episode 2
Is Hana slacking in her job by reading manga instead? She says it’s part of her research… But she isn’t the boss since she has a supervisor too. The staffs are shocked when they learn Hana decides to serialize a manga by Shinobu Fujimori without even looking through her storyboard. Eventually she meets up with her and she already took the liberty in drawing the storyboard. Hana is impressed with her work but she is being more like a reader instead of an editor who gives advice on what to change or add. It’s more like the artist is telling the editor what to do… Hana did come up with some suggestions but they seem to be from pretty familiar mainstream anime traits. I’m sure you know about the guy who has limbs that stretch like rubber and a kid who keeps mascots as weapons in his pocket. Eventually Hana gets into the groove of being an editor and her research on reading manga has paid off. Finally she has a request of Shinobu before she begins her manuscript: Name the main character as her! Rejected!

Episode 3
Hana is excited for headlining the gravure shoot tomorrow. She thinks of camping in office. Rejected! Come tomorrow, Hana is not around. Did she oversleep? Apparently she waited at the wrong place. She even forgot her handphone and business card. What a way to make a first impression. But the gravure model, Kiiro Sakuradai and her staff are quite friendly. Hana is more of a nuisance than helping around. She fools around, accidentally falling within the range of the photo and even tries to add more light to the model (but via blinding her?). At the end of the day when the photos are released, the girls edit the photo to make it look good like eliminating stray hair. One of the photos has Hana’s face caught in the mirror. It’s like a ghost! Hana even suggests treating readers to some nude photos. Of herself? Photoshop effects? Rejected!

Episode 4
Shinobu’s assistant is out with a cold so her manuscript will be delayed. Hana is excited to pitch in. Only God knows what will happen with this idiot helping out. When the girls arrive, they are greeted by mountains of garbage bag! Can you imagine this piled up in only a day without her assistant?! And the assistant even cooks for her and all… Lucky the girls brought doughnuts to fill her stomach. Realizing about the deadline, Shinobu pressures herself to finish it and will not leave this room till it finishes. The rest of the girls start cleaning up and order food. Aki helps out with the inking since she has experienced drawing manga during her college days. However she doesn’t want to be reminded of that. Wonder what kind of manga she drew. Everyone takes a break with their food and the editorial department girls realize the hard job that assistants have to do. Yeah. A certain manga magazine editor is like that too…

Episode 5
The girls are now typesetting by putting in the right font and size before sending it to the printers. We learn the different types of fonts are used in different types of genres and they can basically influence the mood and flow of the story. That’s why it is important to select the correct fonts for the scenes. The girls work overtime and it is already way past midnight. Hana remains energetic since she gets to dress everyone up in cute animal pyjamas. Even so, they are still behind schedule. Suddenly Sayuri Misono (tsundere?) and Hikari Ayano (tomboyish?) from the anime division offer their help. After dividing the tasks (no Hana, setting the futon is not considered an important task), they manage to finish it in time and send it to the printers. Hana is excited this is their first step to get an anime. And they have not published their first issue yet…

Episode 6
The girls visit the printing factory to edit and proofread any mistakes. They are given a list of how to mark and correct the mistakes. Once done, amendments can be immediate and they can start printing the final copy. The girls find too many mistakes and don’t know the proper way to indicate corrections so they start to bug Aki for answers. She too panics that she didn’t know she had to indicate corrections. Everyone descends into panic mode that their first issue will be a disaster so Hana offers them to calm down over a warm cup of noodles. Now that they are calmer, they get back to work and in no time their first issue is released. The greatest reward is to see a reader’s smile while reading it. Hana had to ruin the moment with her embarrassing plea to beg to that reader to buy the magazine instead of reading it for free! Later while going through their first issue, Hana spots that ‘ghost in the mirror’ in that gravure shot. I guess they forgot to edit that one out.

Episode 7
The editorial department with Shinobu are going on a research field trip. Kyoto, Kobe, Hiroshima, Nagasaki. Can they see everything in 3 days? Well, if Hana becomes a strict tour guide, yeah, maybe. Ridiculously tight schedule they’re running. While visiting a temple, the monk is glad that young girls like them appreciate visiting the shrine. Till he hears them using it as their manga reference to explode and burn it down!!! The girls are down to their last destination although they are tired after the hectic trips. They soak in the hotspring of the inn and Hana sees a shooting star. She makes a wish for Shinobu to stay healthy to continue working in good health.

Episode 8
The girls will be participating in Comic Supermarket, a large convention for doujinshi to help advertise themselves and sell their first issue. Aki has prepared lots of fluid for hydration, cool packs and pickled plums for the 3 hectic days. As they are manning their booth, a customer recognizes Aki as White Autumn. Before her past can be further revealed to Tsugumi and Ringo, Aki tells them to go look around. The duo are swept away by the pace of the crowd and they start feeling scared after seeing those ‘hunter eyes’ in the otakus. Aki also goes around and ends up buying lots of her yaoi doujinshi stuffs. When she sees a magical girl cosplayer complaining instead of helping others, she decides to go into action. Tsugumi and Ringo are tired and sought a magical girl’s help for water. They are shocked to see Aki cosplaying as the legendary Magical Girl White Autumn! Busted… All the fan boys love her when she tries to cast a cute spell to make her colleagues forget what they saw. Not working… But moe sugiru!!! When the trio return to their booth, the good news is that all their issues have been sold out. But Hana is close to being zombie after singlehandedly selling them all. I hope they had their fun…

Episode 9
The girls learn that all manga artists are unique in their own way. Hana laments Ekoda sensei still hasn’t submit his manuscript today. And today can mean just before the stroke of midnight. Ringo goes off for a night meeting with Kiyose sensei since this artist is a night person. Ooizumi sensei went on a trip so Tsugumi is tasked to look after the pets. She brought them to office? Not only had it become a zoo but a jungle since Akitsu sensei’s plants need to be taken care off as he is on a trip as well. Ringo comes back with Kiyose sensei’s cosplay outfits since his parents are in town and need a place to sleep. Aki spoke too soon when she thought her client isn’t that needy. Suddenly she gets a call by Hibari sensei who wants to personally see a nurse, soldier, priestess and other references. Like a cosplay, eh? The rest think Aki should cosplay with the costumes here. At first she is reluctant but the animals convince her (Aki is an animal lover and she can’t say no to those puppy dog eyes).

Episode 10
Hana and Aki are visiting bookstores in Akihabara to check out their magazine on sale. Hana tries to hint that her magazine is the best and even directly solicits to a customer to buy them! When they see another customer contemplating whether to buy their magazine or not, it turns out he just wanted a better copy. The duo then head to the nearby store to eat and surprised to see Shinobu, Tsugumi and Ringo working as maids. Hana is devastated that Shinobu has quit her day job to be a maid! Actually her friend who owns a maid cafe suddenly had all her workers falling sick so they’re just filling in for the day. I guess this means Hana and Aki have to chip in too. Aki is a natural as a maid that it is making the maid cafe owner drooling and nose bleeding! Tsugumi and Ringo remember they have to meet their customers tonight. So they call their clients to the maid cafe. Killing 2 birds with a stone. Despite their ‘criticism’, they enjoy the moe-ness of the girls in maid outfit.

Episode 11
Tsugumi may sound like she’s reviewing an artist’s manga but… She’s actually tasting her homemade cookies!!! Anyway the girls receive a manuscript from a newbie and it is very promising. It’s got great art and an interesting story. They think of submitting for the newcomer award. This elderly office guy who is that newbie becomes excited that this is his change to be a manga artist. He is going to hand in his resignation immediately! Not so fast dude! It took the entire day for Aki to convince him to rethink his decision. Just then, they get another walk-in submission. This time a middle school student, Ann Abe who inspires to be a manga artist and Shinobu is her inspiration. Her manga, Attack on Final Dragon Shippuden may sound like it has lots of other manga references but don’t you think her drawing is too cute to be a serious battle mange? They think it’s more suitable if she pulls it off as a comedy with a twist in the plot. Ann agrees and though the story seems horrible but the girls think the plot twist could be interesting. Ann gets excited and hugs Tsugumi, calling her as her master. Now Hana wants an apprentice of her own too.

Episode 12
Comic Earth Star will be releasing collected volumes of Shinobu’s popular manga series. To get started, they must put together all the manuscripts from the serial and proofread them. They notice some pages are missing or got switched around. To avoid any ordering mistakes, they use page numbers when it’s printed. As for the colour picture for the cover, Shinobu should have finished it today but… The girls are outside her doorstep and fear a repeat of déjà vu. Yeah, that load of garbage bags just keep flowing… Her assistant is out with a cold again but don’t worry, Shinobu has just finished it in time before collapsing. As they put her back to sleep properly, Hana suggests writing lyrics for a character song for the inside page cover. She starts doing so and the rest thinks this might work. It becomes a success as Shinobu attends a signing session of her book. Hana waits in line to get an autograph…

Episode 13
Comic Earth Star celebrates their first anniversary. You thought they’re never going to make it, eh? Aki wonders what to do for their anniversary issue but Hana says she has as plan. They’ll celebrate while thinking about it. Aki felt like an idiot for getting her hopes up. Sayuri suddenly barges in to tell them that they have received an anime adaptation offer (and not because she wants to scold Hana!). Shinobu’s manga is well received and there are plans to animate it. The girls get carried away in thinking all the preparations and promotions needed to announce the manga. Especially Hana who is already thinking about releasing CDs, debuting as an idol and even building a theme park amusement to conquer the world! Suddenly she just turned evil. Yeah, she continues dreaming about the fancy and luxurious life being served by a butler. Keep dreaming… Well, Hana will just have to do that seeing that a few days later, the anime offer is cancelled as the producers want the manga to progress further first. Now here is where they break the fourth wall. All is not lost because Sayuri points out they will be animated. Yes. Mangirl will be adapted into anime. Aki isn’t happy about this because Hana the slacker will be the main protagonist. But ever positive Hana says this way they can show people the hard work they do and proof how much they love manga. A year later after lots of hard work and promotion, Mangirl finally becomes the anime that we just saw.

Mango… Bakugirls?
Manga girls go!!! That’s what I wanted to say… It’s amazing that they have survived the first year. More problems to come… So are they ready to take on the big boys like Shogakukan, Kodansha, Shueisha and Kadokawa Shoten? Let’s hope they won’t be ‘eaten’ alive. Anyway, I suppose for a short series, everything is pretty much okay. Nothing much except that we learn a thing or two that editors go through every day just to ensure that we manga lovers and casual readers will have our weekly or monthly dose of manga series all nicely done in a volume. So now you know all that glossy and nice stuffs are actually thanks to the hard work and dedication of the editors and staffs putting in their heart, soul, time, energy and every other sacrifice to make it happen.  You better be thankful for it. Of course we have glimpsed a little on the workings and what their job involves but I think this is just the very basics. I don’t think this anime intends to scare you if they go into more details about the scary about when working under pressure to meet deadlines and such. Even if they’re making it in a comedy style.

So I thought this show was somewhat a little familiar to Bakuman but instead of focusing on manga artists, we focus on the editors and their hectic schedule.  Because I have watched Bakuman which is more realistic, this one seems more like painting the editorial job a little rosier. I don’t know. Can you have an editor in chief who is an idiot and goofy? Because in the real world, if any such editors are like Hana, they’ll be fired. See how easygoing and relaxed she is? While this may be a good indication that she is stressed free and happy with what she does, it doesn’t entirely mean that it is effective. Thankfully she has her little staff to buck her up and get what needs to be done. Aki is the main voice of reasoning of the group and the more serious one in putting Hana back in her place. Her experience as a doujinshi must have helped, eh? Though, she may have a quirk or two but that’s okay. Nobody is perfect. Same goes with Tsugumi who seems to be more infatuated with food. Because she can even drool while listening to Shinobu when she dreams about food! How nerdy can this foodie get? As for Ringo, I guess she is one who doesn’t mince her words though she won’t say bad things. Just that she is perhaps being honest. Shinobu is like your typical manga otaku that we all have been stereotype with. They’re good in what they do but fail when it comes to simple household chores and needs somebody to do it for them. Otherwise they can go berserk with an assistant’s absence in one day! Dangerous creatures… Sayuri and Hikari are just side extras and don’t matter much. Sayuri’s couple of appearance was perhaps to show her tsundere attitude that such genres are obligated to have. I think she is tsundere for Hana…

Remember even if you love manga, do take a moment to appreciate everything else that goes behind it from the artist to the editors and even the printers. For without them, you wouldn’t have such a ‘highly sophisticated’ entertainment material. Hmm… Why do I get a feeling that this anime, putting a bunch of girls as editorial department staffs serves to motivate males in doing their job better? I mean, where in the world can you find a group of cute girls doing such a stressful job and still stay very happy in the end? That’s why you need to have passion if you want to go on in this industry. Lots of them. In some ways, I am thankful that I am not having such a hectic editor job. Because my tastes would have killed the manga industry. Haha! Oh wait. I don’t even read manga! I guess I am ‘unique’ in my own way, huh?

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