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Imadoki Vol. 1
Author/Artist Yû Watase
Written by Yû Watase, probably one of my all time favourite manga-ka, this is a bit of a departure from her usual fantastical tales. Instead of talking rabbits, celestial maidens or ancient China, Ms. Watase is bringing us a straight-up school romance story about a young girl trying to be accepted in an harsh, exclusive high school.
Tanpopo Yamazaki decides to scout out Meio Academy the day before she’s due to start attending lessons there. On her way, she bumps into a mysterious young man who is tending to a dandelion growing in the grounds. She enthusiastically introduces herself and the pair seem to get on. However, the next day, Tanpopo is snubbed by her new best friend, who she dubbed ‘Scoop’ because of his green fingers. The day before he was approachable and even friendly, but suddenly he’s completely ignoring her and pretending they never met.
It turns out that Koki Kugyo is way out of her league – the Prince of the school. Not only is he popular, but he’s surrounded by a plethora of scheming, fake and empty students who are completely unwilling to allow Tanpopo in on their social circle. It turns out that at the Academy, it’s not what you know, but what your father owns that counts. With her poor background, Tanpopo doesn’t stand a chance and is soon labelled an outcast.
Despite this, Tanpopo strives to build a friendship with Koki – believing him to be a decent, likeable person. She tries to appeal to Koki’s love of flowers, but no plants are allowed at the school due to allergies. Tanpopo thinks the rules are stupid (and to be honest, she’s right) and wants to build Koki a garden to prove herself worthy of his friendship.
Tanpopo is relentlessly enthusiastic and rather irritatingly bull-headed at times. Rather than telling all the bullies to get bent, she bows her head and braves out their cruel attitude towards her – thinking she can win their friendship by being positive and cheery. You’re probably supposed to admire Tanpopo’s bravery and good nature, but I was really raring for her to kick someone’s butt.
Imadoki is a harmless romance, based around a school gardening club. If you think the giddy highs and lows of a gardening club aren’t going to be giddy enough, you should probably check out some of Watase’s earlier work. Imadoki is sedate and charming, but it’s not her best work. The art, of course, is gorgeous as usual.
Watase’s done better, but die-hard fans should still give it a go.