Yamashita Tomoko: Don’t Cry, Girl

Don’t Cry, Girl is a laugh-a-minute story about 17-year old Taeko who has been ousted from her parents’ home and sent to live with her dad’s friend, Masuda. Quite literally from the door the hilarity begins. She arrives at his place and he greets her while wearing nothing but a welcoming expression. As any normal person would be, she is perplexed, but rather than being rendered speechless, she has the wherewithal to question Masuda about it, to which no satisfactory response is given. Time passes and Taeko somehow manages to get used to Masuda’s natural state, though not entirely. Time and time again she cracks under the futility of trying to get a why out of Masuda.

Penis gags. And this is where Masuda’s friend, Jinnai, comes in. Taeko is relieved when she observes Jinnai cooking and such and believes him to be a normal person. But when the pork comes out, so does why it makes sense that he’s friends with Masuda. Amazingly, the trio carries on. Taeko wrestles with intermittent bouts of horror as she occasionally realizes that her home environment is beginning to feel normal. But that’s not all, when she thinks she might have feelings for Masuda, her 30-something guardian, she isn’t sure what to do at first, but before long her shoujo instincts and training kick in. And then it gets really funny.

I had a great time with this; it’s probably the funniest title by Yamashita that I’ve read to date. We never learn why Masuda is always naked at home, nor do we learn why Taeko moved out, but it doesn’t matter. There are so many stories that rely on the chemistry between the normal person and the not-so normal person; it’s great for laughs, social commentary, and even speculative fiction. And Yamashita is a master at it, or is she? Well, to be fair she does very well with the build up–placing the normal person in the not-so’s territory and giving her readers a chance to watch them flail about helplessly–however, rather than ending the story with the two the same as we met them or giving the normal one the pluck to say if you can’t beat them, join them, she often allows the not-so to change a bit–for better or worse–and she reveals that the normal one was not really so normal at all. It’s all relative.

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