- Mangaka : Tanabe, Seiko (Writer); Emoto, Nao (Artist)
- Publisher : Yen Press
- Genre : Drama, Romance, Slice of Life, Josei
- Published : Sep 2022
Josee, the Tiger and the Fish is a story of adaptation. It started its life as a novel written by Tanabe Seiko, published back in 1985. 35 years later, this story finally received its manga adaptation, drawn beautifully by Emoto Nao. This adaptation ran from January 2020 to October 2020, which translated into 11 chapters, spanning across 2 volumes.
Two months later, the movie adaptation of Josee, the Tiger and the Fish hit Japanese theaters. Two years after that, this manga finally received an official English adaptation. Not only that, but Yen Press even graciously published it in a 2-in-1 omnibus volume. So as you can see, Josee, the Tiger, and the Fish has essentially been revived and is getting its chance to thrive after 35 years of silence in the Western market. So let’s see how good this manga actually is through this review.
The story of Josee, the Tiger, and the Fish revolves around Tsuneo, a senior college student who dreams of diving into the ocean all around the world, learning more about the fish that live there. He is studying hard to get a scholarship to study at a university in Mexico, while also working part time at a diving shop.
While coming home from work one night, he saves a girl in a wheelchair from speeding through a downward slope. Her name is Kumiko, but she prefers to be called Josee. She got into a near-fatal accident when she was small. That was the day she lost her parents, and her ability to walk. From that day on, Josee lived together with her grandmother.
This is the day when the lives of these two young people intertwine. Because after he saves Josee, her grandmother offers a job to Tsuneo. She wants him to be a caretaker for Josee, and do whatever she wants him to do. Since Tsuneo needs any money that he can get, he agrees. At first, Josee and Tsuneo are always at odds with each other. But as time goes by, they begin to get closer and enjoy each other’s company. Love has started to blossom between them.
Not long after that, Tsuneo finds out that he managed to secure the scholarship to Mexico. He is happy beyond belief, but he also feels a bit conflicted because the university asks him to go to Mexico as soon as he graduates, which is in six months. So now Tsuneo finds himself having to pick between his love and dream.
1. A Real-Life Romance
For the longest time, the “romance” genre was dominated by shoujo and shounen manga. Which is understandable, because most manga readers belong to those two demographics - teenage boys and girls. Titles like Nisekoi, Horimiya, Blue Spring Ride, and Kamisama Kiss have been practically flying off the shelves for years.
However, as fans grow older, we also want to read a mature romance manga featuring characters with a relatively mature approach to their love life. And that is where Josei and Seinen manga come in, with titles like Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku, and After the Rain gaining quite a lot of readers.
Following in the footsteps of all great Josei manga that came before it, Josee, the Tiger and the Fish offers the story of two adults trying their best to navigate their feelings amidst their complicated circumstances.
A story about a 23-year old man who dreams of being a marine biologist and a 24-year old woman who tries to find her place in the world despite being bound to her wheelchair may not be as exciting as the harem story of Nisekoi or as entertaining as the God-human relationship in Kamisama Kiss, but it is real. There might even be a real couple that currently have similar circumstances as the main characters in this manga. It doesn’t get any more real than that, does it?
To become a marine biologist. That has been Tsuneo’s dream for as long as he can remember. But at the same time, he also knows that Josee needs him. Because other than her ailing grandmother, Tsuneo is the only one that she has in this world. So there’s a deep sense of compassion and responsibility that fills Tsuneo’s heart whenever he thinks about Josee. On one hand, he has his dream, but on the other hand, he has his love. Which one should he choose?
Because of her condition, Josee only gets to enjoy the outside world for a brief moment when her grandmother takes her for a stroll in the evening. But everything changes when she meets Tsuneo. He takes her to the beach, to the zoo, the library, and he teaches her to believe in herself and build her own dream. So on one hand, she wants him to chase his dream and be happy, but on the other hand, he’s the only one that she has, and she doesn’t want to be alone in this world. What should she do?
We may not be in the same situation as both of those characters, but we all have to make difficult choices in our lives. And for some of us, we even have to pick between love or our dreams, just like Tsuneo and Josee. Both answers are the correct answers, yet choosing one means having to sacrifice the other. So seeing the characters in this manga struggling to find the best answer, and trying to navigate through this difficult decision is highly relatable to most readers. And that’s what makes the characters come alive, and what makes the story so close and real.
1. If You’re Not A Fan Of Josei Romance
There are those who choose manga simply because of its exciting and bigger-than-life nature. After all, manga is a gate to the world where wish-granting dragons, cola-powered androids, and demon-slaying teenagers live and thrive. We get the chance to experience a world unlike ours. So why would you want to be reminded of the hardships of your life through a manga like this? Well, if that describes who you are, then Josee, the Tiger and the Fish may not be for you.
We understand that a Josei romance manga is not everybody’s cup of tea. That being said, you should still at least give this manga a try. It is that good. On the other hand, if you’re in the market for a new romance manga for your collection, or if you want a sense of realism in your romance - a mature romance story that could’ve happened in real life - then you should read Josee, the Tiger and the Fish.