Tramps like Us (aka: Kimi wa Pet) Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Saturday, August 20, 2005
Release Date: Sunday, August 01, 2004
Translated by:Yuki N. Johnson
What They Say
Life is good for Sumire Iwaya... until the day she discovers her boyfriend is cheating on her, she gets demoted at work and her life spirals towards 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?
TOKYOPOP has done a very nice job with the presentation for Kimi wa Petto (translated "You are My Pet"), which has been changed to Tramps Like Us. Yeah, the title change is kinda stupid; don't get if or why this refers to both characters, but whatever. The color scheme of lavender and blue has been kept and was spiced up a bit by placing six-point stars on the spine and in the logo. The logo retains the same colors as well but the font is not as tight as the Kodansha version, as this one is messy and a bit crooked.
On this cover is an image of main character Sumire feeding her new pet Momo strawberry pokin. It looks a little sexual because Sumire is in a slinky thing with her lacy undies peeking, while her human pet has crawled over her to receive the pokin from her mouth! The opposite cover has no art but it does have a long blurb on a blue background.
Inside, this volume keeps the original volume header with Japanese logo. This volume does not have color pages but keeps the contents page, chapter headers and an ato-gaki. The printing is pretty clean, which is important because the art is based on thin delicate lines but it looks good here. At the end of the GN, there is a preview blurb followed by ads for DNAngel, Princess AI and DOLL.
I love Ogawa's art. It comes right out of the josei style with thin whispy lines and a ton of negative space. Her proportions are wonderful. Characters look a little long but that is done purposely for there is a running joke that the lead is tall for a Japanese woman and she is looking for someone taller than her. Slim and sensual her characters have a realistic but minimalist look to them, where they tend to look great without much shading or texturing. Fashion designs are incorporated giving a look into the era when this was created and have a lot of variety (a concept often lost in shonen and seinen manga).
Ogawa's backgrounds are okay. She uses them quite well by presenting them with detail when she needs to use them but when she does not she keeps them stale and almost non-existent. Considering how there is some type of action in this manga, albeit coming from dance that aspect should be increased if this series were to improve. The layout is okay. I would not normally call it active but the cast tends to fool around with it a bit.
Overall, a stylish and vibrant manga despite the lack of detailing from Ogawa.
Text/SFX:While I have heard tighter adaptations, this one is not bad. This one does a very good job giving the characters individual voices. The source material makes that easy for the relationship calls for a specific type of conversation and relationship. Snappy, fun and easy to read. This is a solid translation. TP does not translate SFX. I can go on about how they should rethink this, as I do not feel it is the right decision, but I will leave that to a future blog post.
Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Iwaya Sumire has hit a rough patch in her life. After a while with her fiancée, they broke up. Five years of "love" and he dumped her for another woman (who is pregnant!). Her boss hit on her and she decked him. She was transferred to another dept. She working on International News and now she is in Lifestyle. Other people have changed her life around her and now she has to deal or succumb to tears, smokes and alcohol.
But life goes on. Some people cut their hair. Some others decide to go on a trip. There are others who just go on the rebound, get laid, get hurt and repeat the thing all over again. Sumire got herself a pet.
A scruffy little mutt with a lot of energy. Well, not that little really. Momo is his name. She found him in a cardboard box and she took him in. Hungry and alone Momo was in desperate need of care and he seemed to be quite willing to make Sumire's place his new home. Maybe he is not fully trained and maybe he needs some obedience lessons but Momo is so darn cute and dumb it is hard to even think about throwing him out on the curb.
In the end this s perfect! Sumire needs someone in her life and Momo as a pet (as weird as he is) provides the comfort and company she needs. She can confide in him. Momo is the shoulder she can cry on. She is also able to use him to relieve her stress. Momo gets room and board and he gets a cute master to take care of him. What else would a pet want?!
Let me start by saying I know exactly what Sumire feels at the start off this manga. As I type this now, I am drunk and depressed and I know that life has treated me better before. Unfortunately, I feel as if I have little control despite all the work and all the effort I made to my personal and business relationships. Hell, I hardly got anything and if I were as shallow as Iwaya Sumire I would not be typing this right now! To make a point I want to say life can be pretty F'd at times and there will be moments when everyone will be desperate and needy enough to take any company pet or whatever for comfort. And that is how Sumire feels right now.
Her life to others appeared to be this dream. She went to Tokyo Univ. and transferred to Harvard. She had a nice condominium. Was promoted early in her career. Anyone would think she did not have a care in the world. She had people resent her for overcoming the obstacles and in the end; they wished she did not challenge their lives because of it. Therefore, Sumire did what she had to do... She snapped! Nevertheless, she had to because Ogawa-sensei knew she had to. Ogawa set up this situation where life was hard, but life was hard for Sumire not for her pet.
This is the problems lie. There is an issue with the writing. How is a person who has been dancing and studied abroad since he was two, going to be ostracized by his parents for dancing? Someone approved his efforts when he was two; someone had to send him overseas, cause he most likely could not afford it himself. Then there is the issue of Sumire's personal life. She broke with one person because of her pet, but why wouldn't that have spread to the rest of her workplace? Gossip runs wild there but this time the buck stopped at a kitty version of Momo? Ogawa has a good concept and can make a great series out of the master-pet relationship but she also should make a better case for herself with her writing. She has to extrapolate with something as fantastic as this. The concept is so "out of the mainstream" it should be worked on more for the cast sake to make a case to gat readers to believe this can happen. Ogawa just expects readers to accept it and run with it and while it works for a drunk angry me it might not when I am sober.
Personally Tramps Like Us has filled a void for my emotions through manga like few titles have ever done before. I relate to Sumire in a few ways and her needy nature. Sometimes when one hits the skids things just snowball and get completely out of control. No one wants to experience that and no one wants to believe how bad it gets. But it happens and when it does happen nothing feels outrageous and that is what Ogawa wants to express and she does a decent job doing that.
Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translatin Rating: B+
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: TOKYOPOP
Orientation: Right to Left