Just a Girl Vol. 2
Tomoko Taniguchi can always be relied upon when one desires a pleasant, short story populated with bubbly characters. Just a Girl is wrapped up with this volume - only the second in the series, and to be honest, it's nice to read a story that ends.
Just a Girl features two main female characters, Erica Fujita and Rena Kamachi. Both complement each other, with Erica being the more optimistic and slightly naive of the couple, while Rena exudes a more mature air.
Erica is still trying to fit in at her new school, though we get to the crux of the tale in this book. She begins worrying less about class and more about Rocky, the cute aspiring actor that may have romantic feelings for Erica.
The primary crisis of the story is revealed when Rocky tells Erica his dream of moving to America and becoming a famous actor. Such goals are normally harmless, but he intends to move overseas in only a few months away from the time of the book's setting.
Should Erica give up her family, friends, and life in Japan so that she can stay with Rocky? Or should she perhaps promise to wait for his triumphant return as a world famous movie star? What if she simply gives up her attraction to Rocky and starts seeking out other guys?
If this sounds like fluffy stuff to you, well, perhaps that's because this is. But it's a good sort of fluff - like cotton candy. It's a very safe series to read if you're seeking out a simple, romantic tale. If you're looking for drama, then Just a Girl is not going to satisfy you.
Even as a guy, I've taken a liking to Taniguchi's straightforward love stories. The characters are always enjoyably realistic, if a little simple. The same could be said for the overall plot content - realistic, but not complex by any means.
Despite the simplicity of her works, they almost always possess an element of charm that makes them hard to put down. There's even a bonus short story in the back of the book that helps fill out the release a little more than what the rest of Just a Girl would have done. As with its host tale, the short story is nothing mind-blowing, but it's more than worth the price of admission.
It's possible that Taniguchi's cute artwork only helps to raise my appreciation for her works. She fills her pages with shojo eyes and cute stuffed animals. I can easily see the appeal of Santaro, Erica's little stuffed dog. As a creature that is part dog, part sock, and part alien, I have to laugh whenever I see the little guy. As far as people go, her characters are never illustrated too realistically, yet she's able to breathe personality into her artwork, and depth can be more valuable than realism. I certainly appreciate it here.
Sound effects are translated (the scant number of them that exist in this title) in the same space as the original artwork, though the practice in this release doesn't conceal too much of the original Japanese version's artwork. Many of Taniguchi's panels contain plenty of white space to put some extra letters here and there.
As can be expected, Tomoko Taniguchi has once again provided readers with a delicate, kind-hearted tale of young love. While it's not filled with the unpredictable twists and turns of any given Yuu Watase series, it does boast a core of Taniguchi goodness that will keep her readers feeling warm and fuzzy. As it gets cooler outside, I suppose that makes this book a rather appropriate read.