Otaku boy meets cosplayer girl. Ramen-liking boy is interested in can’t-properly-cook-ramen-who-works-in-ramen-shop girl. Call-center-agent boy has been dumped before and is reluctant to love again. Clueless girl is new to being alone in the city, does want to have love in her life but doesn’t know how it will happen. But fate brings them together in the same apartment and the same interests. Maybe sparks will fly for them too.
The November Komikon release has the batch of 4-panel webcomic episodes that were part of NeverHeard, as well as new material, now formatted in page-type panels. The first part brings the boy and the girl together. The newer second part knocks them onto the same path, as the girl’s cosplaying ramen restaurant makes an appearance at an anime convention, with disastrous results.
I expected a story like this out of Tepai Pascual, who openly admits her roots in manga and anime fandoms. But getting a script this funny and this tongue-in-cheek from Paolo Herras (indie film world awesome person, prizewinner in several countries, etcetera, etcetera) is unthinkable. And because it’s unthinkable, it’s incredible.
The story works with a full awareness of the local anime fan culture, complete with an almost pitch-perfect rendering of your usual anime convention. It maintains that awareness of being Pinoy, without trying to be something it is not (which is the common mistake of younger manga-style creators). But it takes the view of young adults coming to terms with the fact that youthful interests have to merge with grown-up practicalities. Therefore it is a more mature story compared to its contemporaries, even as it maintains its lightheartedness.
It does derive plentifully from manga tropes, but as has been mentioned before, at this current stage of her art Tepai is now past imitating. She is now highly original, yet remembers her roots. So the irony of the art is clear and understood for what it is, adding humor to the situation. This combination of heart, humor, sarcasm, and insight makes the work highly likeable and interesting, even if it keeps the course of the boy-meets-girl story.
I want a TV movie, or at least an indie short film, please. If that isn’t happening, waiting for more of this boy-meets-girl story with a twist can’t be a bad way to spend time until Summer Komikon, yes? Because more hilarity, more fun, and more crazy geeky romance is expected of this series, and we want to know more!