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Manga / Living Game

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Living Game is a Seinen Romantic Comedy, which ran 10 volumes from 1990 to 1993, and is set over the same time period. Raizo Fuwa, the protagonist, is a 25 year old Salaryman for a small direct shipping business in Tokyo, during the end of Japan's economic boom of the 80s. After his company's office is condemned after an earthquake because of unsafe construction, he's pressured into moving the entire business into his small apartment until they're able to find a new location. At the same time a new employee arrives, 15 year old Izumi Hiyama, a high school dropout, who Raizo's boss has promised to look out for as a favor to her family. After Izumi's first apartment is torn down for new construction, she has to move in with Raizo as well, because nobody else will rent out an apartment to a 15-year-old. Raizo now has to juggle literally living at work, a rapidly declining economy, and a teenager with an obvious crush on him.

Living Game is most notable for its dedication to averting most of the common Japanese romance genre tropes. Because the main couple begins living together very early in the series, a lot of the conflicts are about things that could be expected for newly-weds to deal with, such as lack of personal time because of work, money worries, and deciding whether to take that better-paying job or follow your own selfish dream. Especially considering the age gap between Izumi and Raizo, it's a surprisingly touching and sensitive story.

This series contains examples of:

  • A-Cup Angst — Tokiko isn't exactly flat-chested, but after their first meeting she is quite jealous of Izumi's endowments. In the final chapter, she brags about how big her boobs have gotten due to her being very pregnant.
  • Alternate Character Reading — Izumi's name can also be read as the male-sounding Ikkaku, resulting in quite a surprise when Raizo first meets the new employee.
  • Arranged Marriage:
    • Raizo's parents try to talk him into a miai near the end of the story after he and Izumi break up, but he won't have anything to do with it.
    • The snake lady got Raizo's boss an old classmate to set one up
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy — Part and parcel of the rather simplistic artwork and character designs; it doesn't hurt the story in the slightest and tones down what little fanservice exists.
  • Beach Episode — Raizo purposefully avoids going to the beach with Izumi, to avoid the temptation of eyecandy.
  • Betty and Veronica — Raizo's ex-girlfriend is never actually a contender, but most of the other characters think she is.
  • Big Fancy House — Inverted, tiny overcrowded apartment (and a succession of similarly-sized apartments after the first).
  • Broke Episode — Around half the series is Raizo and Izumi trying to squeeze together money; several other characters also have to deal with strained pocketbooks.
  • Butt-Monkey — Raizo gets this treatment from his co-workers.
  • Crazy Cat Lady: The woman Isseki meets when he's pretending to be Raizo is a crazy snake lady. He's freaked out at first, but by the end of the story they're still together and are expecting a baby.
  • Dangerous 16th Birthday — In this case, dangerous to Raizo, as he realizes Izumi's just going to keep getting more mature and attractive every year.
  • Dreadful Musician — The cello-playing siblings who live under Raizo and Izumi for a while...they don't truly suck but are not nearly as good as they'd like to be.
  • Drowning My Sorrows — Izumi suggests this to a Rōnin who has failed his exams again, but he Can't Hold His Liquor and she winds up drinking everything for him. Also indulged in by other characters from time to time.
  • Face Fault — Lots, of the "flying" style that Ken Akamatsu likes to use.
  • From Roommates to Romance: The plot is kicked off by Izumi moving in with Raizo. Raizo knows he has to be mature, but he's definitely tempted. After a couple of years of story time, their relationship progresses.
  • Furo Scene / Hot Springs Episode — Several, although the fanservice quotient is almost nil.
  • Girlish Pigtails — Izumi's go-to hairstyle, of the braided variety.
  • Grumpy Old Man — The elderly man who is a customer of Nakafumi DM and refuses to move out of his ramshackle hut.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy — Raizo gives up smoking and gets a new crappy-but-better-paying job to help get Izumi into college.
  • Improbable Hair Style — Everyone has pretty realistic haircuts, though it IS the 80s.
  • Incompetence, Inc. — Pretty much anyone involved in the construction business in the story, to the regret of several characters and Sugita's unending ire. Then again, the shoddy construction of the skyscraper from the first chapter is what set the entire story in motion, so maybe it's not all bad...
  • It's a Small World, After All:
    • In the last third or so of the story, Raizo meets and eventually goes to work for a perfectionist architect named Sugita. In the final chapter, Sugita reveals that he designed the skyscraper that would have housed Nakafumi DM had it not been made unusable by the earthquake in the first chapter.
    • Early on, Raizo's landlady turns out to be Mitsuo's (Tokiko's husband) old flame.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold — Nanba, with heavy emphasis on the "Jerk" when she's at work with Raizo.
  • Kissing Under the Influence — Raizo and Izumi finally kiss after a night of drinking. Unlike most examples of this trope, they do remember it in the morning.
  • Married to the Job — Tokiko's husband, to the point where his assistant Komada is a "second wife".
  • Memento MacGuffin — Raizo's old handcrafted bowl, a reminder of his relationship with Tokiko.
  • Non-Indicative First Episode — Izumi doesn't even show up until the third chapter.
  • Nosebleed — Natori tends to get these around Izumi.
  • Not What It Looks Like — The trope title isn't invoked, but Izumi sees Raizo and Hideko together at their apartment, jumps to the wrong conclusion about what's going on, and dumps Raizo. Granted, Hideko was very interested in hooking up with Raizo, but he had no such intentions.
  • Pædo HuntInvoked. Izumi's not legally jailbait (something Raizo's co-workers like to goad him about through unasked-for faxes), but he still feels like a pervert for being attracted to her because of their age difference.
  • Rape as Drama — Nearly happens twice to Izumi during times of estrangement from Raizo.
  • Refuge in Audacity — Tokiko's husband challenging Raizo to a sumo match the first time she ran away.
  • Relationship Upgrade — The entire series is essentially one long upgrade between Raizo and Izumi, from her confessing to liking him to him coming to terms with his attraction to her to their kiss at the onsen to finally consummating their relationship.
  • Right Through the Wall — Raizo and Izumi have to deal with this in one of their apartments. It's an unusual case, as the couple making the noise is three floors below them, but can be heard in the wall through the electrical conduit which joins all the floors together. Raizo spooks them by talking like a ghost.
  • Running Gag — Tokiko repeatedly leaving her husband and crashing at Raizo's apartment, as well as her asking if Raizo and Izumi have "done it" every time she shows up.
  • Salaryman — Raizo, until he starts as an apprentice architect.
  • Skinship Grope — Tokiko pulls a full-body version on Izumi in the onsen.
  • Sunglasses at Night — Out of 119 chapters worth of story, Nanba gets a total of two panels of scenes in which she's not wearing her sunglasses, during the company getaway at the onsen. It takes her putting the shades back on for Tokiko to recognize her.
  • Tsundere — Izumi, Type B.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years — Izumi may occasionally succumb to teenage boneheadedness (blatantly evidenced in vol. 10), but overall she is definitely mature beyond her years. When she finally gets into a school, her classmates note this and start calling her "sempai" even though they're roughly in the same age group.