Manga Review: Tramps Like Us

Manga Review: Tramps Like UsTramps Like Us by Yayoi Ogawa
Published by TOKYOPOP on August 10, 2004
Genres: Contemporary, Humor, Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Scanlation

Life was good for Sumire Iwaya ... until the day she discovers her boyfriend is cheating on her, she gets demoted at work, and her life spirals into the dumps. Things take a turn for the better when she crosses paths with Momo, a homeless guy with a colorful past who puts a bounce in her step and a shake in her hips. It takes two to tango, but when Sumire's first love reappears in her life, will this be the last waltz?

For those of you not familiar with the different kinds of manga, a brief explanation. Josei is manga for women, the adult counterpart of shoujo. The themes are, unsurprisingly, ones that would be of more interest to a grown woman. Romantic relationships are often key, but there is also a focus on the workplace, family and sex.

I didn’t expect to like this series as much as I did. The plot, of an older woman taking in a younger man as a pet, held little appeal. I have never been a fan of age gaps and the whole pet thing sounded super creeptastic. Still, the whole thing was done very tastefully.

The master-pet relationship was achieved without any sketchiness and the feelings grew slowly and naturally. One of the great things is that Yayoi Ogawa managed to make their relationship in the early volumes feel completely platonic and then had the relationship grow and change over time.

This is really a story about people’s expectations. Sumire was looking for a guy that would fulfill her three qualifications: high intelligence, high salary and height. She finds that guy and then struggles with the fact that she still does not feel satisfied. She cannot be herself with him; nor is he entirely happy with her. What people think they want/need is not always what they really do need. To quote Wonderfalls, one of the best shows of all time:

Gretchen: (About her husband) He’s great if I was gonna make a list of what I wanted in a husband. Which I did, actually. Well, Robert is that list.
Chuck: So, he’s the man of your dreams?
Gretchen: He’s the man of my list.
Chuck: Do you love him?
Gretchen: No. I don’t. I don’t love my husband. Did I ever? I mean, I converted for him. That’s a lot of work! There’s like, tests and stuff! I was so busy worrying that Robert didn’t love me that I never considered if I loved him.

The story got a bit disjointed here in the last volume and even took a strange fantasy plot twist at the very end, but was still a fairly satisfying conclusion to the series. This definitely is not going to be for everyone (manga tends to be a hard sell to American adults to begin with), but, if you can get your hands on it and willing to give manga a chance, this is a good one to try.

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