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Manga / Comic Girls

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Comic Girls (こみっくがーるず, Komikku Gāruzu) is a 4koma manga by Kaori Hanzawa. It follows Kaoruko Moeta, a manga artist who creates 4-koma manga. When her work is met with overwhelmingly negative reception, her editor arranges for her to live in a dormitory with other aspiring manga artists. Kaoruko meets a variety of individuals on her arrival, including Shoujo manga artist Koyume Koizuka, shounen manga artist Tsubasa Katsuki, and Ruki Irokawa, who specialises in Teens Love, a more mature Shoujo subgenre. Together, the girls strive to improve their craft, all the while helping one another overcome the trials and tribulations associated with working in the manga industry. Along the way, Kaoruko befriends her roommates and meets the other tenements in their dormitory.

Serialized in Manga Time Kirara Max from 2014 to 2023, Comic Girls later received an anime adaptation that aired during Spring 2018. The anime adaptation, produced by Nexus, is directed by Yoshinobu Tokumoto, with characters designed by Keiko Saito and music by Kenichiro Suehiro.

Compare with Hidamari Sketch, also a Moe Slice of Life about artists from Manga Time Kirara. Also compare Bakuman。, a more Shōnen example of a manga about manga artists.

Followed up by Hanzawa's next manga series, Idol Be Back.

Comic Girls provides examples of:

  • Adapted Out: The anime slims the dorm's population down to just the five main characters and the housemother, and removes Koyume's fellow shoujo mangaka Mon-chan and Bun-chan from the rejected manuscript burning scene and her Weight Woe episode.
  • Asleep in Class: Justified as the cast often have to pull all-nighters to fulfill their deadlines. Ruki does this in the fourth episode and Tsubasa in the sixth. The latter case is an plot point as a proper introduction to Nijino, who turns out to be a Closet Geek.
  • Badass Cape: The protagonist of Tsubasa's manga wears it, and Tsubasa also wears it when she cosplays as him.
  • Beach Episode: The girls go to the beach in Episode 5.
  • Bland-Name Product:
    • The girls' publisher Bunhousha comes from the manga's publisher Houbunsha.
    • Kaoruko brings with her a Rintiq tablet.
    • In the fourth episode, Kaoruko teaches Ruki to use Comic Stadium. It comes from Clip Studio Paint's predecessor, Comic Studio.
  • Book Ends: Episode 3 begins with Kaos' editor critiquing her gourmet manga idea, and pointing out all the ways it falls flat. It ends with Kaos submitting a similar storyboard- her editor notes that she's made some improvements, but ultimately rejects it.
  • Company Cross References: A small one, but during the beach trip in the fifth episode, Koyume ends up hanging out with some of the Wakaba Girl cast. Wakabi Girl is another Manga Time Kirara series animated by Nexus.
  • Contrived Coincidence: In episode 7, Nijino takes a trip to Akihabara and goes to an eyeglass shop, despite having perfect eyesight, to find glasses that make her look more like a teacher. By an amazing coincidence, it's the exact same moment Kaoruko traveled to Akihabara to get her own pair of glasses for largely cosmetic reasons. Kaoruko was determined by the optometrist to actually require some correction, however.
  • Cute Kitten: Kaoruko's cat Nyaos. Especially after Ririka makes her a little beret.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The opening and ending themes are sung by the voice actresses of the four main characters.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Like the Badass Cape, the protagonist of Tsubasa's manga wears it, and Tsubasa also wears it when she cosplays as him.
  • Executive Meddling: Ririka discusses In-Universe some of the downsides of being a professional Sequential Artist - having your publishers and your audience dictate what you draw. Because of that, she's happier drawing as a hobby and supporting the girls in their endeavors.
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Mother: Tsubasa's mother. She would prefer Tsubasa to live like her class and work in the family business eventually. Tsubasa is a tomboyish Sequential Artist, something her mother is not very fond of.
  • Fictional Document: Justified as this series is about Sequential Artists:
    • Tsubasa's dark fantasy manga The Dark Hero's Revenge Story.
    • Ruki's Teens Love manga Scuffling Wildly Rendezvous.
  • GIS Syndrome: Par for the Slice of Life course, but especially obvious in episode 7 where all the eyeglass store backgrounds are obviously photographs with a light Photoshop filter over them (probably because hundreds of pairs of eyeglasses are too complicated to paint over convincingly). The animated characters stick out like a Conspicuously Light Patch.
  • Harsh Word Impact: Kaoruko has one in the first episode when Ruki mistook her for an elementary school student.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: In the anime, each episode title is a spoken line in the same episode.
  • Last Episode, New Character: Kaos' mother first appears in the last episode of the anime.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In The Tag of chapter 30, Mon-chan and Bun-chan (who were just named in the preceeding chapter) balk at the responsibility of being the side characters who support the Stock Shoujo Heroine, and announce they're better off as background mobs.
  • Loophole Abuse: In the seventeenth chapter, Kaoruko attempts to adopt a white stray cat that acts like her. However, the dormitory forbids its tenants from owning pets. Ririka, noticing Kaoruko badly needs a comfort animal, decided let let the cat in as long as it sleeps in her room—the rules does not say the housemother can't keep pets.note 
  • Mood Whiplash
    • In Episode 4, Ruki notes that she doesn't have a right to worry about how her upcoming autograph session will go when Tsubasa, who keeps her gender a secret, can't go to anything like that. Before long, she gets distracted by what Tsubasa's drawing.
    • During Episode 5, Tsubasa engages in some quasi-philosophical musing as the sun sets on the beach... then casually points out that Ruki's sketchbook is washing away, causing Ruki to freak out.
    • Early on in Episode 8, Kaos begins to despair after her latest manuscript gets rejected again, which is played more seriously than usual. Her friends comfort her... then suddenly begin talking about their various "disgraces" in a fairly comedic manner
  • The Namesake: It's shown as the title of Kaos' first approved manuscript in Episode 11.
  • Not What It Looks Like: In the third episode, when Kaoruko goes to join Koyume and Ruki's sketching session, she overhears Koyume panting and says she "can't do that," while Ruki told Koyume the latter "can do this" while pushing Koyume on the bed, in what looks like the two starting to have sex. Kaoruko turns bright red and falls down in shock, while the other two girls come out to explain they are just posing for a sketch.
  • One Degree of Separation: Amizawa, Kaos's editor, Hanazono, the landlady, and Nijino, Kaos's homeroom teacher, turn out to be high school classmates and join the same Japanese School Club.
  • Only Six Faces: In the eighth episode, two of the cast fell foul of this trope:
    • Kaoruko's storyboard is rejected by Amizawa partly because of this trope- the high school girls look too much like each other and don't even look like high schoolers.
    • Both Love Interests in Koyume's manga are based on Tsubasa
  • Periphery Demographic: Both In-Universe examples.
  • Porn Stash: In the first episode, after knowing Ruki draws mature material, Koyume and Kaoruko attempts to find one of these under her bed, reasoning that she needs one to write her stories. Theey are disappointed when Ruki doesn't have any.
  • Pose of Supplication: Kaoruko falls into this when she heard that her manga is very poorly received.
  • The Power of Hate: Tsubasa's mother makes herself into a Hate Sink just so her daughter has the fire she needs to write shonen manga.
  • Product Placement: Several stores sponsored this series to have their stores featured in the anime.
    • The Animate chain sponsors throughout the series, in particular the second, third and seventh episodes.
    • The second episode is also sponsored by the art supply store chain Sekaido, whose flagship store is visited by the girls.
    • Megane Ichiba, an optical chain, sponsored the seventh episode, when Kaoruko goes to shop for glasses.
  • Puni Plush: Kaoruko's art is deeply steeped in this style.
  • Real-Place Background:
  • Schoolgirl Series: Kaoruko, Koizuka, Katsuki and Irokawa are high school students who are also manga artists.
  • Sequential Artist: The series focuses on a group of high school girls who are themselves manga artists.
  • Skinship Grope:
    • After wondering where Ruki gets her ideas from for her Teens Love manga, Koyume's curiosity gets the better of her, and she feels up Ruki, only to learn that Ruki is smaller than expected.
    • When Tsubasa says she doesn't mind turning into a boy in the first episode, Ruki says they won't be able to do this if Tsubasa really turned into a boy.
  • Slice of Life: Comic Girls depicts the everyday lives of a group of young manga artists as they work towards improving their craft.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: After Kaoruko mentions she likes looking at figures of the Cool Big Sis type in the tenth chapter adopted as the second part of the seventh episode, she denied having attempted to look at Ruki's panties. This leads to the rest of the cast to confirm she does this to all the figures she owns.
  • Title Drop: Indirectly. The manga that finally gets Kaos published is "Comic Girls", and is about her adventures in the dorm.
  • Toast of Tardiness: Koyume invokes this in the second episode. She's not really late, but she plays this trope just because she Thinks Like a Romance Novel.
  • Uncatty Resemblance: All the main cast notice one thing in the second episode: Kaoruko and Nyaos are both social phobic and have nearly synchronized emotions. The two characters are even played by the same voice actress, Hikaru Akao.
  • We Will Not Use Photoshop in the Future: As Tsubasa returns to her Fiction 500 home in the tenth episode, Ruki manipulated some pictures to look like Tsubasa still acts like The Ojou while at the dorm. The "manipulation" was no more than hand scribbles over a photograph.
  • Wham Line: In Episode 8, Mayu, Miharu and Ririka are out drinking, discussing their past and Kaos' struggles as a manga artist, when Ririka suddenly brings up a somewhat surprising tidbit.
    Ririka: That's why I'm so worried about the dorms being torn down.
    • Although it was hinted in episode 1. Kaos was 'last to arrive' because there would be renovations that year.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Little Girls?: An In-Universe plot point in volume 4 of the manga. Ruki's little sister Miki, who dreamed of drawing manga for children, just got her first manga beginning serialisation in a Manga Time Kirara magazine a few days before meeting the girls; she knows only that she finds the manga published within to be full of cute artwork and friendship. Cue the cliffhanger of Kaos and Koyume informing her that Kirara manga are actually aimed at a seinen demographic...
  • Yonkoma: Enforced by being in Manga Time Kirara Max.