「いってらっしゃいませ 立派な漫画家さまたち」 (Itterasshaimase Rippa na Mangaka-sama-tachi)
“Farewell, You Wonderful Manga Artists”
The end is near for Comic Girls, and the final episode makes the most of the time it has to cut as deep as it can. Much like the rest of the series, Episode 12 thrives in tinkering with the characters’ emotions as Kaos’ vulnerabilities are laid bare while she finishes her two-part guest appearance alone. Since her dorm-mates are all leaving early for the months leading up to the Spring semester, Kaos is left by herself as her loneliness and lack of faith in her own talents hinders her ability to finish writing and illustrating her chapters. She had gotten so used to rejection, that by the time she got to the point where her editor is happy with her output, she still internalizes that her work is terrible, especially since her last bit of praise was from the extra help she got from her friends with the background art they handled. With the motivation of her friends, Ririka, and her mother, she was able to cheer up enough to get back into the right mindset to finish her two-parter, and wrap up the show on a lighter note with her two-parter working out perfectly, and the new semester starting with her friends in the newly renovated dorm.
How the final episode frames and animates Kaos’ internal tug-of-war was impressive as she switches between sobbing from the lacking confidence she has in herself and the bouts of happiness she would have as she gets further motivated. The oppressive feeling of the empty dorm rooms make it all the more agonizing for Kaos to face off against her draft without Rukki, Tsubasa, or Koyume to help her out. And it is a testament to how natural the shifting tones feel as Kaos finds herself bouncing out of her worst depressive states through being aware of how well she’s been doing things by her own accord or using the encouragement she gets from her friends and loved ones to charge through her mood switches. It does help though that her mother is amazing by supporting her to the point that she is outwardly promoting her work to those around her shop.
There were many moments with Kaos that were tear-jerkers, but I choked up a little during the epilogue scene on the train. She’s heading back home when she gets a text from her friends, who sent her a group photo of everyone together. As she begins crying from seeing them all together, it puts into perspective how far Kaos had come from then. She went from being absolutely frightened to open up to anybody around her and fearing any bullying she might face to feeling far more comfortable with their company in her life. It’s poignantly presented as you can imagine the position Kaos must be in, reflecting on the positive growth she made in the series, and how her effort to take herself out of her comfort zone to make vaulable friends who love and care for her was just what she needed to become the best Kaos she can be.
There isn’t enough praise to give to Comic Girls, and the envelopes it pushed to present a cute, relatable, and meaningful anime about the trials and tribulations of creatives in high school. It was well-crafted to translate the adorable visuals and comedic timing of the 4-koma manga into a 23 minute anime series with aplomb as the content it adapted did justice to its run time and each segment worked perfectly in tandem with one another. The background scenery and character designs were detailed, expressive, and fit the mood of the show to a T, bringing out the humor in the characters optimistically and pessimistically marching towards their deadlines. For a comedic series, the direction behind some of the scenes was beyond impressive with timing and framing that gave the show’s dramatic moments heft, depth, and nuance. Specific scenes like when Rukki is getting her hair ready for her first autograph session, when Mayu building up the courage to leave a message on Kaos’ phone to encourage her to keep being a mangaka, and Koyume’s conversation with Tsubasa on the ferris wheel were presented in a consequential manner, creating a deeper impact on the audience to empathize and understand what the characters were going through.
With any comedic slice-of-life, the characters are the foundation of the narrative, and can turn a seemingly average premise into a memorable and enjoyable experience. This is especially true with the cast of Comic Girls as each character is well-utilized in playing significant roles in the series, are endearing enough that they all steal the show at some point, and aren’t cast off to the side once their development is complete. Kaos as the unofficial lead of Comic Girls is a blast as she comes into her own, remedying her intense anxiety with the lewd thoughts she indulges in, allowing herself to relax by basking in the warmth of her perverted imagination. Koyume is a nice foil to Kaos, offering her motivation and peppy encouragement to off-set Kaos’ skiddish personality, and yet provides enough depth to explore the worries she has about accurately portraying romance in her shoujo manga without any experience. Her infatuation with Tsubasa is a fascinating side of Comic Girls as the characters are open-minded and happy to help Koyume possibly be the one to build an everlasting bond with Tsubasa beyond friendship. Tsubasa herself is also intriguing as the author many of us aspire to be who is in love with the work she does to the point of emulating the hero she created, but has issues with how her point-of-view as a workaholic clashes with her family’s lofty goals for her and contributes to the lack of sleep she gets. Finally, we have Rukki, who is level-headed and mature, yet has to learn to fall in love with the work she does as her ecchi manga was the furthest genre from the goals she had to draw cuter artwork, and had been a source of her insecurities up until she had the chance to meet women who loved her work.
The side characters of Comic Girls are equally appealing as they are funny and developed enough to be full-fledged characters of their own. As the dorm mother, Ririka takes on a mentorship role with the girls, enjoys relaxing with her old friends from the dorm who went onto different ventures, and encourages everyone to let loose as she did when she wrote yuri manga. Mayu turned out to be far more than your standard adversarial editor for Kaos as she felt bad for the consequences that her criticism might have on Kaos’ enthusiasm, and works to improve her relationship with her by giving her more constructive feedback on her drafts. Nijino-sensei has been consistently funny as a secret otaku who is obsessed with Tsubasa’s manga and tries her hardest to hide her past as a yaoi mangaka. One character I wound up getting the biggest kick out of was Fuura, the horror mangaka who enthusiastically scares those around her, but has a normal side to her that comes out as Kaos carries on conversations with her.
Comic Girls took me by surprise for all the right reasons. It could’ve been another gag comedy or rely solely on assigned character shticks, but the anime went above and beyond to humanize its cast and have us build a deeper emotional connection with everyone as they band together to face the obstacles in their path. It is one of those shows that cuts to the heart of what many older teens and younger adults are going through as we battle our insecurities, anxiety, and the roles that are thrust upon us as productive members of society. Comic Girls definitely tickles this with how easy it is to empathize with the feeling of being on the same boat as the girls while they grapple with uncertainty, doubt, and nervousness. With an engaging cast, superb direction, well-crafted drama, and a cute, goofy sense of humor, Comic Girls is one comedy this season that knocks it out of the park.