Thursday, December 22, 2022

Holiday Review# 22: DRIP DRIP

No shojo romance, no matter how low-key or strange it could be, could compare to what came out this year from the mind of the woman who gave us Beastars.

DRIP DRIP (Bota Bota), by Paru Itagaki.  First published in 2020 and first published in North America in 2022.


Ever since she was a girl, Mako Higuri gets massive nosebleeds whenever she touches something dirty.  That includes literal trash, money, and in particular men.  It's extremely frustrating for her, when all she wants to do is to lose her virginity and enjoy a normal romantic relationship for once.  It doesn't help that every man she tries to seduce ends up being some sort of weirdo.  Will her luck turn around when she meets an old classmate who doesn't immediately make her nose gush?


So how does Paru Itagaki cope with writing stories about real people instead of furry people?  It's pretty consistent with what you might expect: it's weird and kind of messy (both literally and figuratively), but there are some emotional truths to be found in Drip Drip.

The title story is often madcap and bawdy, but there's a sincerity to it that's weirdly appealing.  While her affliction is strange, Mako's desire for physical affection, romance, and a sense of normality is as relatable as can be.  There's a sadness behind it all, with its origins in her mother's mysophobic overreaction to her father's infidelity and how her nosebleeds repulse and isolate her from others.  Yet there is a happy ending to it all.  She's finally able to lose her virginity, enjoy a relationship, and ultimately find happiness and satisfaction in herself, bloody nose and all.

But that's not all!  There's another short story here, one that couldn't be more seasonally appropriate: a story about a woman trying to screw Santa Claus!  "White Beard and Boobs" is about Ichika, a sex worker whose latest client is a gruff, weird old man too focused on his computer and snarfing down as many snacks as possible to make use of her services.  She is naturally skeptical of his claims of being Santa (at least, for the nation of Japan) until he makes good on years of Santa oversight.  It's a short little piece that's even goofier and looser in tone than the title story, but again it ends on a satisfying note (with the added bonus of never shaming Ichika for her job).


I definitely find Itagaki's art more appealing when she's not drawing furries.  While these stories are very much rooted in the real world, there's a sort of rubbery, exaggerated quality to her characters that works really well with the material.  I also like the thickness and variability of her linework - it's hard to explain, but it somehow lends the work a sort of visual vitality.  Her paneling is also great.  She makes great use of head-on close-ups and really lets her art get loose and big during its most active moments, be they comic or bloody.


There's an omake where Itagaki dramatizes the genesis of this collection, which apparently was a bit of a quid-pro-quo deal with an editor at Goraku magazine.  True to form, she visualizes herself as a chicken (a chicken dressed like a yankii because she is a self-described "Weekly Champion delinquent"), while the Goraku editor is a yakuza boss (since they apparently publish a bunch of yakuza manga).  Brief but fun.


So long as you're not a scrub who's scared of blood or stories about women trying to find themselves and navigate long-standing trauma in off-kilter ways, then you'll probably enjoy Drip Drip.  It's not josei, but it's close enough in its sentiments to appeal to josei fans.

This book is published by Viz.  It is currently in print.

Only three days are left in our Holiday Review Giveaway! Let us know what your favorite manga of 2022 was and you might win a $25 RightStuf gift certificate!  Find out more at this link!

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