Tokyo Cycle Girl Volume 1 Review: Just another generic K-On! clone?
Released as part of Jmanga’s Hard-Working Girls feature, Tokyo Cycle Girl follows the lives of Katou and Iruka, their entrance into a Tokyo high school and their joint love of cycling. Whilst Iruka is thrilled that she is finally able to live in the big city and become what she calls a ‘Tokyo Girl’, Katou on the other hand hate despises everything to do with Tokyo for unknown reasons. Unfortunately Iruka sees Katou as the Chic Tokyo Girl she aspires to be. Iruka immediately becomes obsessed with Katou and starts to follow her everywhere, and make her life a living hell. When it seems Katou’s situation couldn’t get any worse, it turns out that she has to share a dormitory with her in her boarding house!
Immediately when reading Tokyo Cycle Girl you may be struck by it’s artwork – not because it is spectacular, but because of its similarity in style to K-On!’s. However rest assured the two titles’ art style couldn’t be any more different. K-On is a four-panel manga, meaning that there is often a limitation on a heavy the level of detail, which the pages are able to contain. On the other Wadapen the mangaka of Tokyo Cycle Girl choose to take the standard format. Often it is incredibly detailed, and occasionally panels struck me by how beautiful they were. Tokyo Cycle Girl is incredibly similar to K-On! however in the respect that they are both ‘club manga’. Like in K-On! where the original members of the band spend the entirety of the first volume attempting to convince Yui to join the Light Music Club, the bulk of the first volume of Tokyo Cycle Girl revolves around the President and Vice President of the Bicycle Angels Club trying to convince Shimano and Katou to become members. Despite the fact that all of the characters are archetypal and unrelatable – except for Katou (and perhaps Saika if her character develops in later volumes) – the story is set up reasonably well, and the locations and scenarios in which characters are first met did give me an immediate sense of whom these are. Whilst not as funny as other ‘club manga’, I did genuinely laugh at some points, and whilst I found the gags involving Iruka Shimano quite generic, some people may find humour in them.
Whilst there is not an overload of fan service (there are no panty shots), there is certainly a large amount of it. A lot of panels have a large emphasis on character’s behinds, and there are suggestions of yuri towards the end of the book. Breast sizes also seem to get larger as the book goes on – suggesting that the editor magazine that Tokyo Cycle Girl originally appeared in wanted to increasingly orient it towards a male audience as the series went on. So while there is a sizable moe content, it’s not large enough to make this book smutty or a terrible title. The author’s comments on the other hand are disturbing. At one point when Katou is riding her bike Wadapen writes ‘Ah…I wish I could be that saddle’, comments like these were really distracting, and I believe that if they weren’t there my overall impression of the book may have been very different.
One of the parts of the book that I actually really enjoyed were the sights and attractions which the girls visited whilst on their bike trails in Tokyo. As far as I can tell from the author’s comments the majority of the locations are real. The title is unique therefore in the respect that it attempts to explore parts of Tokyo that other manga and anime tend to ignore. As a cyclist myself I also found it interesting to read the descriptions of the various bikes that are found in the city.
If you like cycling and fan service then this is the perfect title for you. If you liked K-On! then you may also want to consider spending your Jmanga points this title. However Tokyo Cycle Girl Volume 1 is nothing to rave about, however I am interested in where the story is goes, although if it just tries to cram as much fan service into every chapter as possible then it will certainly fail to make me interested in purchasing the next volume.
Tokyo Cycle Girl is available now on JManga.
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