Manga Review: Yoshi no Zuikara: The Frog in the Well Does Not Know the Ocean Volume One

Yoshi no Zuikara: The Frog in the Well Does Not Know the Ocean Volume One tells the story of a struggling manga artist.

Yoshi no Zuikara: The Frog in the Well Does Not Know the Ocean Volume One
Written by: Satsuki Yoshino
Publisher: Square Enic Co., Ltd.
English Publisher: Yen Press
Release Date: September 29, 2020

The first chapter of the manga tells the story of four high schoolers who live out in the middle of nowhere on an island. The four boys all went to the same branch school for first and second grade, and the teacher transferred away at the end of second grade. After that, they move on to the main school in third grade. One of the boys has been corresponding with their former teacher for seven years, and then suddenly stopped getting letters from her. The boys try to figure out what happened to her. Just as they learn the truth, it’s revealed that what you’ve been reading is a manga that someone is drawing. I thought this was a neat twist and that it was good way to introduce the idea that this story is about a manga author.

The second chapter introduces the reader to Naruhiko Tohno, a 32-year-old manga artist who has been a mangaka drawing fantasy and fantastical manga for 10 years. Unfortunately, he has yet to have a big series and is in fear of being dropped by his editor. His most recent series has just been cancelled. The manuscript we see him working on in the first chapter for a storyboard that he’s drawing, but he isn’t sure that he’s going to pursue it any further. His assistant, Toshi-bou, who is around ten years younger than him, says he likes the storyboard and thinks he should pitch it to his editor. As fate would have it, the editor calls and suggests that Tohno try drawing a slice-of-life manga. And thus, the storyboard he’s been working on becomes his next project: Wakkamon. Yes, this is an homage to Barakamon, which is another series by Satsuki Yoshino.

Over the course of Volume One, we get to see Tohno’s struggle with writing in a genre he’s never written professionally before, and his struggles of getting reference material. We also get backstory for Tohno’s life growing up and how he became a struggling mangaka. Once Wakkamon starts being published, it does well enough to receive its first tankobon printing. The success of the compiled volume takes Tohno by surprise, and it was amusing to see his reaction to it.

So far, I really liked what I read in this first volume for Yoshi no Zuikara: The Frog in the Well Does Not Know the Ocean. The characters are interesting, the comedy is humorous, and I appreciated reading about Tohno becoming a mangaka and his learning about the various tools of the trade while he was in high school. For some readers, this might be a little too much on the technical side, but I enjoy learning about how an entertainment industry, such as manga, works. Unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to read Yoshino’s Barakamon series, so I am unable to compare how Yoshi no Zuikara: The Frog in the Well Does Not Know the Ocean compares to it.

The first volume of this series shows a lot of promise, and I have a feeling that fans of Yoshino’s work will enjoy reading this. If you’re like me and enjoy behind-the-scenes stories of writing manga or creating anime, you’ll likely enjoy this series as well. And I think fans of the Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun manga may find enjoyment with this series as well.

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