Chio-chan no Tsuugakuro

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まっすぐGO!

Chio-chan no Tsuugakuro (ちおちゃんの通学路, Chio-chan’s Way to School) is a comedy manga by Kawasaki Tadataka (川崎直孝) with a somewhat unique premise and a lovable, awful protagonist. It’s one of those manga that you simply should be reading already, though I suppose I wouldn’t be surprised if you hadn’t heard of it. I’ve actually known about the series for a while, having discovered it on a board I frequent with several others. It’s a series that works well enough that you don’t need to actually be able to read it to enjoy it. The dialogue and narration helps it a ton, but just through images and the motion conveyed through them Chio-chan no Tsuugakuro is incredibly effective. It is that good. Let us go over why.

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The core of the manga is explained in the title: Chio-chan’s Way to School is about high school girl Chio-chan’s (Miyamo Chio, the protagonist) days of going to school, at least most often. Since it’s a comedy, it shouldn’t surprise you that regularly she loses her way and badly, or gets caught up in hijinks. The first chapter is perfect in getting this premise across. It doesn’t give you the full grasp of the series (you’ll pretty much have that by chapter 4), but it gives you nearly all of it and should likely get you hooked at once.

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Continuation of the first page.

During chapter 1, Chio-chan is late to school and the way she plans to use to shorten her travel time has been closed down. Her brilliant plan is to instead take to the rooftops. You see, she’s late because she stayed up all night playing Assassin’s Creed some assassination game, and since she liked it so much the parkour traversal system in the game is lingering in her head. Thoughts such as these occur to her often. She is, after all, a gamer.

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A hardcore gamer, at that — look at that battlestation.

The adventure continues a bit and we get another large aspect of Chio-chan no Tsuugakuro

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Embarrassment.

And a little bit later, a lack of fear to depict somewhat gross things for humor (this guy starts brushing his teeth…nrgh). You could summarize a lot of this series as “Chio-chan gets into troubling scenarios, many of which are entirely her fault”. A few old “plots” or characters get brought up several times over the course of the series, but the manga is first and foremost episodic.

Going into the wrong-sex bathroom by mistake, getting involved with a thug, attracting unwanted attention at the school gate…

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…dealing with this horrible situation…

If you were or in fact are an awkward person, you may be able to relate to things Chio-chan goes through. I sure can! I can also relate to a lot of her fantasizing when faced with desperate times.

However! Unlike most awkward sorts Chio can be very bold, regularly foolishly so. Despite being a gamer, she’s rather athletic from being a tennis club member. It kind of makes her a badass, kind of makes her an idiot. She does many things to the extreme, risking bodily, mental, and social harm.

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Thankfully(?), she is not alone! Chio-chan no Tsuugakuro has a tiny cast of recurring characters, the most frequently seen being Chio-chan’s best friend, Nonomura Manana.

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Manana is an awful person, too.

I mentioned in the introductory paragraph that the protagonist of this series is awful. Indeed she is! Like her best friend, Chio-chan is a backstabber who will not hesitate to throw others under the bus for her own safety. Manana definitely seems worse, though (additionally, she is crude, self-serving, and vengeful). Regardless, they are a terrible pair, terribly made for each other.

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And…what’s that? Do I smell…lilies? It’s faint…

The addition of Manana is fast and fantastic. Kawasaki-sensei quickly established that the series wouldn’t be strictly formulaic by adding in some regular faces aside from Chio-chan and mixing it up pretty much immediately. He demonstrated that not every chapter will be about Chio-chan getting lost, even if most chapters are about her way to school. Manana also makes the series really nostalgic; takes me back to chitchatting with my miserable friends as a miserable teen. Furthermore she possesses one of the best of the many incredibly silly faces that you can find in the series.

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The art is generally quite great, especially (surprisingly) on an “action” front. Kawasaki-sensei doesn’t mess around when depicting some of the nonsense Chio-chan goes through — he goes all out.

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That’s not something you tend to get in comedies, let alone slice of life manga. The angles employed, and the depictions of speed, are genuinely awesome

And speaking of, you don’t tend to get characters like these. Sure, I’d call Chio-chan and Manana cute, but they’re definitely “plain” girls, actually unpopular, and their personalities are pretty bad. I also really love how Chio-chan isn’t just “said” to be a gamer; she definitely plays video games (and I suspect Kawasaki-sensei does, too) — Western ones at that, which tickles my fancy.

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Haaaa…classic. Also, there are plenty of specific game or game culture references. That’s rare and it pleases me. I might even call the author a westaboo.

But, well, that’s about all that I feel I can say. Chio-chan no Tsuugakuro is full of strong elements that all work together to make it hilarious and fun every single chapter. The timing alone on the jokes and scenes is down PAT. Perfectly funny. I’m quite glad it’s getting translated, even if I “read” the volumes I bought already a while ago eagerly — still got a lot out of them just from looking over the pages. This is good shit, man. Not too often you can find such a series.

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It made me interested in kabaddi

Read it! I highly recommend it. It’s superb! You may purchase Chio-chan no Tsuugakuro from Bookwalker (guide), CDJapan, honto (guide), or ebookjapan (if you’re logged in there’s some NSFW content on this page, in thumbnails). Please do! Like I said, you don’t even really need to know Japanese to enjoy it! You’ll be pleased to know this is actively being translated, however, and that the series remains ongoing in Japan. Thank goodness! Little sucks more than finding a good series and then finding out it’s dead.

Also here’s Kawasaki Tadataka’s twitter account: @tadataka_k

Thanks for reading. Next time, I’ll be reviewing a series many call the best ever or at least the best slice of life series ever. Can you guess what it is? Until then, peace!

chio-chan-no-tsuugakuro-20By the way “MASSUGU GO!” is a reference to Manabi Straight, one of my favorite anime.

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4 thoughts on “Chio-chan no Tsuugakuro

  1. gantifandor says:

    I’ve been reading this blog for a a few months now but nver bothered with this.

    Holy fucking shit.

    This manga is so good. I wasn’t interested the least but this became easily one of my favorite comedy manga and now I’m so sad it’s relatively unknown. Especially since the beginning is already so good it made me want to marathon it instantly.

    Thank you for introducing me to so many of my currently favorite manga, like Hinamatsuri, Tsugumomo, Mizukami’s works and so many great manga I may not have found/checked out otherwise like this, Yuusha ga Shinda and Ookami Shounen, just to name some of them. I can’t find anyone who writes such detailed and informative recommendations. It’s really fun reading them (especially Ookami Shounen’s).

    I’m sorry for putting all of this in here, I just want to beat myself over the head for almost ignoring this manga.

    • I’m quite happy you’ve enjoyed the manga and my writings. Really, it pleases me knowing you found some things you otherwise wouldn’t have considered thanks to what I’m doin’. That’s my ultimate goal here, so I’ve got no problem receiving compliments for it. Very happy you enjoyed the Ookami Shounen review, it was fun to finally write.

  2. Same boat as the guy above. Thanks for introducing me to manga I wouldn’t have discovered if it weren’t for your blog. I marathoned Chio-chan today and I blew my gut laughing while reading the convenience store chapter where she was trying to buy a BL mag. I haven’t laughed that hard at a manga in years.

    Thanks and keep up the good work.

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