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Manga / It's Tough Being Neeko

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It's Tough Being Neeko (Neeko wa Tsurai yo) is a comedy manga by Aldehyde, which was serialized in Comic Cune from August 27, 2017 to December 26, 2020 and compiled into six volumes.

Nemuko "Neeko" Niito is a 23-year-old young woman with no job and crushing social anxiety who still lives with her parents. Can she overcome her weaknesses and find gainful employment, or is she doomed to be a NEET forever?

The manga contains examples of:

  • 20 Minutes into the Past: A minor case. The manga started serialization in 2017, but in Chapter 21, which was published in January 2020, the family buys a Nintendo Switch on launch day (March 2017).
  • Allegedly Free Game: Discussed in one Yonkoma strip. Neeko says she prefers home console games because unlike mobile games, which have microtransactions, "Once you've paid ¥6000 to buy a game, everything in it becomes free!!"
  • Animal Motifs: For whatever reason, when Uriko is drawn in chibi she is often given pig features.
  • Artistic License: Apparently, it's possible to get hired for a temporary part-time position without an interview, even though someone else submitted an application on your behalf without asking you. Just ask Neeko, who gets tricked into working at an electronics store on the Switch's launch day.
  • Beach Episode: Imoko takes Neeko to the beach during Chapter 24. Naturally, since Neeko's uncomfortable around others, awkwardness ensues.
  • Bland-Name Product: Some older systems are given names like this, such as the "Vii" (Wii) or "DN" (DS). Averted with the Switch, which is referred to by its proper name and is recognizably drawn.
  • Break the Haughty: Neeko’s original character concept was of a moderately more extroverted and far more unrepentantly mooching spoiled gamergirl. Uri’s flashbacks show that when she was still in college that’s exactly what Neeko was like. The string of harsh rejections from job interviews (specifically, she was continuously subjected to stress interviews) led to her current subdued, guilt-ridden, neurotic mannerisms on top of her shut-in tendencies.
  • Brutal Honesty: Imoko never misses an opportunity to bluntly call her sister a NEET in front of any new person, often to the mortification of everyone in earshot. She also calls Neeko’s video game fangirlism "gross" to her face. Absolutely none of it is meant with malice, with her admitting while under the influence that it's her attempt to lighten the mood so Neeko doesn't get too stressed out.
  • Butt-Monkey: As if Neeko's status as a NEET wasn't embarrassing enough, she also has terrible luck and ends up in numerous humiliating situations.
  • Can't Hold Her Liquor: After Imoko takes one sip of sweet sake, she gets drunk enough for her personality to significantly change.
  • Cat Smile: Imoko has this expression constantly. It initially comes across as her just being far more relaxed than Neeko, but later chapters imply she has a bit of a hidden trickster streak as well.
  • Character Development: In Chapter 31, as Neeko gets rejected from job after job, she becomes increasingly traumatized and self-loathing, but at the same time, starts taking the application process more seriously and has more success in the interviews, to the point of actually getting hired just after she completely breaks.
  • Cringe Comedy: The series stars a NEET with crippling anxiety, so it can be hard to laugh at her.
  • Disappointing Older Sibling: Neeko, as a NEET doesn't compare very well to her younger sister, who's holding down a part-time job while in high school. Imoko loves her in spite of this, though.
  • Disease Bleach: Chapter 31 confirms that Neeko's trauma during the job search turned her hair white.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Chapter 31 is titled "Neeko Fails to Find a Job."
  • Extreme Doormat: Neeko will roll over at the slightest verbal pressure and obey any command or task given to her, even if she doesn’t want or have to.
  • Festival Episode: Chapter 25 takes place at a festival that Neeko attends with Imoko, at which she runs into some of her old friends.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Neeko is a NEET while Imoko is working a part-time job in high school, having gotten hired at a place that rejected Neeko. The sisters' respective resumes make it clear that Imoko is significantly more mature and organized than Neeko is, since her resume is significantly more professional and expresses a better work ethic than Neeko's.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Readers already know that the flashback about Neeko's job search will not end well for her. What they don't know is Neeko actually got a job offer, but turned it down because she was so traumatized.
  • Gamer Chick: Video games are basically the only source of uninhibited joy Neeko has. In contrast with the typical portrayal of this trope, Neeko mostly sticks to mainstream / casual titles in choice of play and discussion (though she approaches them with a hardcore player’s enthusiasm), has gotten more and more into mobile games in recent years, and kinda sucks at competitive play.
  • Genki Girl: Imoko is brash, energetic, never holds back her thoughts, and always tries to get people around her to have some fun with her.
  • Gentle Touch vs. Firm Hand: Neeko's father is the Gentle Touch, since he's more hesitant about pushing his daughter outside of her comfort zone. Neeko's mother is the Firm Hand, since she's determined to get Neeko out of her rut, and gradually discards any hesitation she might have had when it comes to forcing Neeko to work.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: In Chapter 14, as Neeko has a breakdown and laments her inability to find a job or get married, her mother slaps her across the face and tells her to get a hold of herself.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Despite seeming lazy and immature, Neeko is able to do whatever she puts her mind to. It's also revealed that despite suffering from social anxiety, she was the one who reached out to Uriko back when they were in college.
    • In terms of skills; Neeko is apparently a savant at graphic design, and Uriko is a hobbyist doujin mangaka.
  • Housewife: One of Neeko's friends, Chiho, becomes one after marrying a classmate. She claims that it's technically equivalent to being a NEET.
  • Immediate Self-Contradiction: Neeko declares that everything in console games is free... after you buy the game. Lampshaded when Imoko says, "That's a contradiction, sis."
  • Innocently Insensitive:
    • Imoko cheerfully calls Neeko a NEET. Subverted when a drunk Imoko later admits that she does it purposefully to tease her.
    • Mrs. Niito gently suggests that Neeko's friend Uriko, who's also unemployed, worry about herself before Neeko. Uriko then replies that she had to quit her job because one of her superiors was sexually harassing her, and that she's working on finding work again. Mrs. Niito then apologizes for being insensitive.
  • In Vino Veritas: After getting a sip of sweet sake, Imoko takes on the personality of a Handsome Lech after just a sip of sweet sake, acting rather assertive and aggressively flirty toward her friend Marimo and other classmates. This behavior even extends to her older sister once she gets home, much to Neeko's discomfort. However, she also feels comfortable enough in this state to admit in between the filtrations that her usual "cheerful girl" act is at least partially a façade to help alleviate the stress and guilt she knows Neeko has surrounding her NEET status.
  • Karma Houdini: Mrs. Niito gets off surprisingly easily for tricking her daughter into working part time at an electronics store (which would likely involve dealing with customers), something that could have backfired severely and worsened Neeko's problems. She feels a bit bad about it but is confident that everything worked out in the end.
  • Loser Protagonist: Neeko, being a NEET with crippling social anxiety, obviously fits this trope.
  • Mom Looks Like a Sister: Uriko mistakes Neeko's mother for her older sister.
  • NEET:
    • Neeko is a girl who still lives with her parents and can't find a job.
    • Subverted with one of Neeko's friends, who doesn't have a job and isn't in school or training... because she's a housewife.
  • Nice Girl:
    • Imoko. Innocently Insensitive tendencies about her sister's NEET-hood aside, she's remarkably caring toward Neeko. She even manages to throw a hostile student for a loop by being nothing but polite throughout their encounter.
    • Uriko cares a lot for Neeko and hopes that Neeko will be able to find a job, in large part to repair her ruined self-esteem. She even thinks about Neeko while she herself is out of work.
  • Out-of-Context Eavesdropping: Neeko overhears her parents talking about having someone named Sousuke stay in her care, since she has a duty to help out around the house. She initially assumes they're trying to marry her to a young man with that name, but it turns out that Sousuke is a cat.
  • Parents as People: The Niitos are trying to help their daughter in their own way, even if their efforts generally don't have much success.
  • Prematurely Grey-Haired: All flashbacks show Neeko having dark colored hair. Her breakdown from getting torn into during her initial attempts to land a job turned her entire mane silver.
  • Punny Name:
    • Nemuko Niito is a case of this twice over. Her nickname "Neeko," as well as her family name, Niito, sound like NEET.
    • Neeko's sister Imoko's name sounds like "Imouto," the word for "little sister."
  • Pushover Parents: Neeko’s dad fawns over her slightest achievements around the house and is constantly sneaking her spending money. Downplayed with her mom as well, as her attempts to push Neeko into becoming productive don’t extend beyond barbed comments that she backtracks on the instant Neeko becomes visibly distressed. It’s telling that it takes over 20 chapters and an intervention from one of Neeko’s old college friends for her to get her daughter out of the house despite the latter’s pathological obsequiousness.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: A mundane example; Neeko is fantastic with computers. Her whole family and close friend all not only know about this talent, but also regularly call her in to help with video editing and graphic design on various personal projects. Never once does Neeko or anyone around her recognize the value of her hobby and seek to make it a revenue stream by way of freelance commissions over the Internet (which would handily side-step a plethora of her issues getting a job; namely her extreme anxiety with face-to-face interactions and poor scheduling skills) rather than continue agonizing over how to brute-force past her hang-ups and get her in some more traditional job. Neeko does finally realize it could useful in Chapter 37, but this is after she got a job
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Subverted in Chapter 24. In a brief flashback, Imoko invites Neeko to the beach, then hastily adds, "Ah! And I'm not inviting you cause Mom said to take you with me, okay?" This would come off as an example of the trope but considering that Mrs. Niito had recently tricked Neeko into working a part-time shift, it's meant to be honest reassurance that there are no ulterior motives or tricks involved. She repeats the same line in Chapter 25 regarding her inviting Neeko to the festival.
  • Tough Love: Mrs. Niito loves her daughter but is determined to get her out of the house. She goes as far as to slap Neeko when the latter starts lamenting that her life will never get better and tricks her into working part-time at an electronics store.
  • Trauma Button: Apparently, even wearing a suit is enough to remind Neeko of one failed job interview.
  • We Want Our Jerk Back!: Uri laments Neeko’s present passive and hesitant approach to interactions, remembering her as fairly outgoing and Spoiled Sweet, and even missing how she used to unabashedly demand for her friends to spot her change.
  • Wham Line:
    • Neeko meets with the manager of an electronics store, hoping to pick up a Switch, and after she hears the following words, she realizes her mother tricked her into working part-time.
      Hasoda: Here. Your apron and name tag.
    • In Chapter 31, it's shown that a string of rejections traumatized Neeko, and she has an emotional breakdown in her final interview. She then gets a phone call from one employer.
      Iwase: I'm Iwase from Cofoot Corporation. I'd like to congratulate you that, judging from the result of your interview, you have been accepted as part of our company.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Episode 31 flashes back to shortly after Neeko graduated college.