Tamiko to Visual kei to – Volume 1 Review

Hello readers and listeners alike! Today I am doing something new, that I mentioned in another new to my blog, blog post. So with that, let’s jump into this series Tamiko to Visual kei to and my review!

So, let’s do a bit of synopsis first and foremost. The description from the official website, translated by me as, “A young adolescent girl. “If only I didn’t stay like this…” she mutters and through that phrase a mysterious Visual Kei person appears!”.

The striking Visual Kei person themself (taken from official site).

As I said before in my initial impression, this tells absolutely everything and nothing about the series. To give something a bit more substantial is that Tamiko is a young Jr. High School student who happen to evoke the spirit of a Visual Kei person, who then follows her and requests her help in returning his bandmates back to this particularly plane. There’s a few catches to this Visual Kei person’s existence; one for the time being only Tamiko can see him. Apparently being able to see this person is linked to a jet black crystal that manifests in corners of classrooms via… some sort of not fully elaborated on magic. Visual Kei as a concept is something strictly prohibited by the Japanese government and anyone participating in this is to be reported to the authorities. Tamiko, friendless and rather soft-spoken accepts this person’s request for help and begins a journey to find their lost bandmates and instruments with the goal of returning Visual Kei to Japan.

At least, that’s what I got from the first volume. The story is billed as being a fantasy, adventure, and comedic series, which so far two of three have been hit up in my opinion. The fantasy, the half-real, half-not nature of the bandmen and their whole story of being sealed away is pretty interesting especially when the story hits around chapter 4, and then again in chapter 8 with more fantasy elements being built in. I really do like the idea of urban fantasy manga, and this seems to be a pretty good twist on it as well.

What’s fun is that the bandmen, two of which have been unsealed by the end of chapter 11 and the status of the third actually subvert a lot of adventure troupes. Tamiko is a junior high school student after all; she has to go home at night. She can’t just stay out all night without any explanations. Both band members, instead of encouraging Tamiko to become a delinquent pretty much go, “that makes sense” and follow her lead. So yes, they venture off to far off stations to unseal their companions but they do so in a grounded manner.

Some gorgeous detailing from the first chapter.

About the only element of the story so far is the comedy. There’s a fair amount of gag humor, and jokes that only translate if you’re in on Visual Kei culture. A lot of it has to do with transformation sequences and one-liners, none of which got me to laugh yet. I have laughed at other elements that I don’t believe were intentionally comedic but… I found them funny.

I have to say given the premise and execution thus far, this series is doing really well. The pacing is smooth with a natural progression that actually answers questions in a meaningful amount of time. The “Visual Kei Person” does actually give their name once asked about it. There’s well integrated further backstory to explain what happened to Visual Kei in Japan before the ban. The magic/abilities/fantasy elements have been introduced. And it’s been introduced in a way that wasn’t an info-dump, thankfully. I would like a little more clarity but I’m sure it’ll come in due time. Not everything that been answered yet which has me in a reasonable amount of suspense. I find it endearing that Tamiko is 14 since that was around the age, I myself got into Visual Kei. So another positive point on the table.

What has blown me away is the art style. I was so sure that the cover would deceive me and the art wouldn’t match the contents. However, holy shit can Yukito illustrate; this manga is done completely in grey scale. I say that specifically because this story is not the typical black and white with manga textures added in. It’s illustrated in grey-scale to allow for design details, character expressions and additional story elements (backgrounds, etc) to really convey the ambiance of the situation much more eloquently then usual. It’s absolutely stunning to even just flip through casually, as every few pages there will be a stand out page rendered in an amazing detail that will take my breath away.

Which leads me to some other curious details about the series. First, is that the illustrator Yukito has written how difficult the story is to illustrate and thus the run for this series is only intended to be between 2 and 4 volumes. I find that very interesting given that most manga publishers want a series to go as long as it can. I snooped around online to see what company was publishing it, which is Tonari @ Young Jump comics. Which is a subsidiary of Young Jump, and Shueisha respectively but it appears to be completely digital release. As of writing there are 18 chapters released, on a bi-weekly schedule which is just to rare to hear about.

As of right now, Tamiko to Visual Kei to is only available in Japanese. It’s a bit tricky to read since the use of furigana is minimal for rather obscure kanji and phrases. I don’t believe this series will get an official English translation as the target audience is extremely niched, and is so in Japan as well.

Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing how Tamiko develops as an individual. Having currently, two very eccentric bandmen at your side is bound to rub off on you in some capacity. I’ll keep you guys posted as the later volumes of this manga come out! With that, I’ll see you next post!

NOTE: All images were taken from Tamiko to Visual Kei’s official website which can be seen here. So full credit to Yukito and Kawata Yushi!

Video bonus! The author, Kawata Yushi mentioned he wrote this story with X Japan’s “Rusty Nail” in mind, so I figured I’d include a video of it here for your listening pleasure.


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