Tramps Like Us Vol. 14, by Yayoi Ogawa

TOKYOPOP has just released the final volume of Yayoi Ogawa’s sublimely romantic manga Tramps Like Us, and while we are definitely going to miss seeing new installments of this story every few months, we are thrilled that Ogawa ended her fourteen-volume series on such a satisfying note.

The heroine of Tramps Like Us is Sumire Iwaya, a tall, beautiful, highly competent journalist in her late twenties whose painful shyness is frequently mistaken for coldness. The hero of the series is twenty-year-old Takeshi Gouda, a classically trained dancer who supports himself by mooching off of older women. Sumire and Takeshi meet as their lives are falling apart: Takeshi has taken up residence in a cardboard box, and Sumire has just been dumped by her boyfriend and, thanks to her violent rejection of her boss’s sexual advances, demoted at work. Sumire isn’t even remotely sexually interested in Takeshi, but she’s desperate to find somebody who accepts her, and she offers to let him live with her—as her pet. Takeshi agrees, clearly hoping that “pet” is actually a euphemism for something much kinkier, but he’s disillusioned when Sumire promptly re-names him after her beloved childhood dog, Momo, and starts treating him like an endearing but mildly obnoxious puppy.

Over the course of the series, Sumire and Momo interact with friends, lovers, co-workers, family, and each other, and discover they have more in common then anyone could have guessed. More emotionally self-aware than Sumire, Momo soon realizes that he has fallen in love with her, but he’s equally aware that Sumire sees him only as a pet. It takes Sumire much longer to discover her feelings, and it isn’t until the final few volumes of the series that the story shifts into straightforward romantic territory. We were a little concerned about the story’s conclusion—Ogawa has ended series on an unresolved note before, and the first two-thirds of Tramps Like Us offered no guarantee of a happily-ever-after for both of its characters—but we are delighted to report that the final volume of this series is totally awesome.

Tramps Like Us doesn’t make the greatest first impression: manga fans shy away from Ogawa’s distinctive artwork (admittedly, her huge-eyed, broad-mouthed, long-nosed characters do look sort of like llamas—but her style really grows on you, we promise!), and non-manga readers get antsy about the provocative title, aggressively pink spines, and slinky cover images. We understand why some of our more sensitive readers would hesitate to be seen publicly buying a book with a title and cover like this one, we really do...

...but that’s what God gave us online shopping for, right? Ogawa’s series is alternately moving and side-splittingly funny, with charmingly flawed characters that truly grow and change over the course of the story. Tramps Like Us is one of the best romances we have ever read—of any type—and we’d hate to think that fear of some snotty bookseller’s raised eyebrows might prevent any of our beloved readers from checking it out for themselves.
Posted by: Julia, Last edit by: Julianka


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