Is Kichijoji the Only Place to Live? Volume 1
What Not Love But Delicious Foods Make Me So Happy! does for Tokyo restaurant reviews, MAKIHIROCHI’s Is Kichijoji the Only Place to Live? does for neighborhoods in the city.
Kichijoji is regularly voted the most popular neighborhood, but the Shigeta twins help their clients find other, better-suited places to settle down. I should find a manga about the details of where to live in Tokyo off-putting or less interesting, given I’ve never been to Japan, but the stories of various women looking for great places to live are surprisingly relatable. (I suspect I’m also having vaguely fond memories of my first real job, in a real estate office.)
The twins aren’t particularly similar, although they both love heavy metal. One is a reader; the other loves socializing. But they’re good at their job, having inherited the family business. They find their clients what they really want, drawing out their priorities and preferences skillfully. Their descriptions are involving, pointing out the desirable elements of any given area, aided by great images of the local shops, restaurants, and other points of interest. Plus, they always get a local snack with their customers, which cements their support as they eat together.
The reasons for looking for a new place to live vary. One woman has broken up with her boyfriend. Another was bullied out of her job, while a third is a workaholic hoping to better balance her life. One is moving to the big city for the first time. Her story was particularly interesting, since the sisters set her up in a share house, an apartment building with small rooms and lots of communal spaces. It’s a different way of living that makes sense for a new city-dweller.
The chapters are formulaic but effective. Each has as a high point the client looking at their new neighborhood with a glorious two-page spread. Is Kichijoji the Only Place to Live? is a surprisingly entertaining portrait of how important choosing the right environment is. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)