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Shigeta, a young woman of 24, spends her days working at Tanaka Books and fretting over her love-life, or lack thereof. The thing is though, the biggest obstacle between Shigeta and a satisfying relationship seems to be Shigeta herself. When it comes to men, the poor girl has exceedingly poor judgement, most likely brought on by even poorer self-esteem. She was burned by a guy last summer, who wanted sex, but not commitment, and she's still stinging from the memory. Unfortunately, Shigeta doesn't appear to have learned anything from the experience. Early in the story, she meets a cute guy at the bookstore. Getting his phone number on the pretense of finding a book for him, she calls him up and immediately winds up sleeping with him. But it's the same old story - he's looking for sex, not a girlfriend. Meanwhile, Shigeta's nerdy co-worker, Takahashi, pines away for her from the sidelines. When Shigeta wins a free trip to the island of Sebu, it's an ironic stroke of luck, since she has no boyfriend to accompany her. Of course, for Shigeta, going there with a girlfriend or a less-than-gorgeous guy, like the timid Takahashi, is simply out of the question. On the train ride home, Shigeta spies a super-cute guy across the aisle. They make eye contact, then he's gone. The next day, who should walk into the shop, but...that's right, the cute guy. The problem is, he's the boyfriend of sweet little Yuko Tanabe, the new hire at Tanaka Books. Never one to let morals get in the way of romance, Shigeta decides to steal the boy away. She pulls off her scheme with ease, but wouldn't you know it, he too just wants a quick romp and nothing more. Back at the bookstore, a jealous Takahashi confronts Shigeta about her impropriety in tears. When Yuko overhears, she attacks Shigeta, chasing her out onto the street and into the path of an oncoming car. After being released from hospital Shigeta and her vivacious roomate, Fuku, go to a club in an effort to cheer our heroine up a bit. Well, Cupid, that sadist, strikes again and Shigeta falls madly for the club's hunky Dj, Tokieda. Too intimidated to approach him, she waits for him to come outside after closing. When she finally gets up the nerve to tell him she digs him, his response is a smirk and a quicky up against the nearest wall. Oh, Shigeta...what will we do with you? So, now our Shigeta's in love. An assumption she bases on the fact that Tokieda didn't kick her out of his pad the very next morning and continues to have sex with her on a fairly regular basis. When he's not staying late at the club that is. Needless to say, Takahashi is devastated and concerned. Shigeta, however, is oblivious to everything, even to the point that she looses her job at the bookstore. But that's okay, 'cause she and Toki can live on love. When she arrives at his place to tell him the news, she gets a surprise. There's a naked young woman in Tokieda's bed. "It must be his sister," Shigeta tries to convince herself. Of course this isn't the case. The girl quickly turns violent on Toki, tells a stunned Shigeta he's all hers, and storms out of the apartment. Both Fuku and Takahashi are worried about Shigeta, but she's sure that she and Tokieda will marry soon and raise a family. Still...there are lingering doubts and disturbing signs, such as "his" and "her" drinking cups in the bathroom that Shigeta knows she didn't give him. When Tokieda brings home a little hottie, named Emily, Shigeta's suspicions are confirmed. Always full of surprises, the cool as a cucumber Toki suggests that the girls can share him, and bless her heart, our naive Shigeta says okay. Her attempt at a free-love lifestyle is short lived though, and when Shigeta goes to the apartment to confront Toki, she finds herself alone and on the outside once again. As always, Takahashi, ever faithful, ever hopeful, is there waiting for Shigeta. So, ends the first heart wrenching episode of Happy Mania.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Anno takes a different approach to the typical romance story. While her protagonist, Shigeta, longs for a boyfriend who will both turn her on and treat her right, her greatest struggle is actually remaining unattached long enough to meet him when she's available and overcoming her own obsessive insecurities in the process. Anno's art has a loose, kinetic style that she puts to good use, for the most part keeping her Japanese take on the growing chick lit genre from falling into sedentary, talky cliche. Anno has reimagined the romance story as an action comic, and the result is a graphic novel that keeps a narrative momentum moving far past the age-old question of "will she or won't she?" (In Shigeta's case, she will.) Shigeta moves-she runs, kicks, throws tantrums and sleeps around. Additionally, her rambling interior monologue is a funny running rant of "I don't have a boyfriend!" anxiety. The first volume of this series is not above some formulas. Much like a television pilot, most of the other characters are sketched only in broad strokes so far. Shigeta's best friend, Fuku, does little more than sigh sympathetically. The attractive heel, Takada, is little more than an attractive heel. And overlooked bookstore co-worker Takahashi is likely, in later volumes, to be the boy that Shigeta decides is worth settling down with-just so long as it doesn't happen too soon. While readers may root for Shigeta to ultimately fall for Takahashi, until she figures it out, her misadventures with men make a delicious guilty pleasure.
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