“The Hand That Feeds You” – Tramps Like Us, Part 1 (manga) – 7/10 Tulips

Mangaka: Yayoi Ogawa

Genre: Romance/Slice-of-Life/Drama/Josei

Review Status: Incomplete (7 Volumes/14 Volumes)

Licensed: This manga was formerly licensed by Tokyopop

Art: It takes after a lot of Josei manga, with sketchier lines and more realistic art. Well, pretty-realistic, not Satoshi-Kon realistic. The guys tend to be bishies, and even the average women look rather cute.

Summary: Life was good for Sumire Iwaya… until the day she discovers her boyfriend is cheating on her, and she gets demoted at work and her life spirals toward the dumps. Things take a turn for the better when she crosses paths with Momo, a homeless guy with a colorful past who puts a bounce in her step and a shake in her hips. It takes two to tango, but when Sumire’s first love reappears in her life, will this be the last waltz? (back cover of 1st volume)

Review: Nana got me hooked on romantic dramas. In a search for a title that’s as emotionaly charged and has characters as thoroughly developed as what I found there, this popped up. I’ve heard a lot about it from certain circles, and when my library picked it up, I found myself devouring what I could. The premise seems a little shaky- would a respectable businesswoman really pick someone up off of the street? And if he were cute, would she really not have sex with him?

Once you get past those issues, there’s a fairly solid story about a woman who’s lost and needs someone to be there for her. Sumire is one of the better-developed heroines I’ve come across, and one that’s terribly rare in anime and manga- a full-grown woman who’s competent at her job and secure in her position there, but underneath it is an insecure girl that doesn’t know what she wants in life… or how to get it. She struggles on all fronts, from workplace disputes and demotions, to relationships that constantly fall through (and a lot of insight provided into Japanese business/relationship culture at that), and she feels empty because there’s nothing emotionally there to support her. Momo, a younger man and somewhat-famous dancer, fills that role admirably, giving her someone dependable and trustworthy to take care of. She needs him in ways that she can’t quite figure out, and even as she’s drawn towards her first love, Sumire can’t open up to him like she can Momo.

Yes, I’m pegging on her and Momo getting together at the end of it. At seven volumes and months into the relationship, Sumire can’t even admit to her first love what she wants to eat for dunner, let alone be truthful about anything else! So far, her relationships has been chronicled from first meeting to comlicated middle ground, dealing with potential rivals for affection, a proposal, back-and-forth on whether she really likes Momo or First Love (even if she herself doesn’t conciously realize it), and being asked to move to another country. It’s hard to believe all that can happen in about a year, but it does to Sumire! And through it all, Momo has been her rock… and her First Love’s feelings might be wavering from her hesitancy.

Overall, it’s a decent title for those who enjoy seeing how romantic relationships develop and the struggle between people who love each other.

Recommended: 18+, and this will probably appeal more to women then men. There is sex implied, some rather risque dialogue, and a little bit of language.

Other Titles You Might Enjoy:

NANA (anime or manga)

Hapi Mari (manga)

The One (Manhua)

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