Shoujo – Gag, comedy, fantasy
8 Volumes (original) / 7 Volumes (shinsouban) (complete)
Chitose, a girl down on her luck, is forced to transfer schools after her father’s death since the only thing she inherited was a rare pink goldfish. For Chitose, who grew up with the finer things in life, this new school is a huge culture shock! But maybe life at her new school will be full of some pleasant surprises as well…
Girl meets girl meets goldfish.
One of the parts I never liked studying or trying to figure out in my English classes was the whole protagonist vs main character thing. I kind of get it when someone gives examples, but then if you ask me to name one, I just shrug. I mean, like this site that covers the difference between them (and hero) calls Willy Wonka the protagonist of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but the first page results on Google all list Charlie as the protagonist. To Kill a Mockingbird has arguments over if the protagonist is the narrator or her father, and some sites are all like, “No, no, no, no! According to the definition of a protagonist it’s obviously [insert Scout or Atticus], and here’s why all those other resources are wrong!”
Now, I’m sure none of you came for a literary debate. I only bring that up because Kingyo Chuuihou! does that sort of switcharoo. You got the rich girl, the crazy girl, and the goldfish. You know the goldfish takes the slot of titular character, because, well, duh, the title is a pun on weather warnings. So you could also adapt the title as something like Goldfish Watch! or Goldfish Advisory! as well in order to keep the reference to forecasts. Chitose is the one who often drives her story in her attempts to glam up her school, and she’s Gyopi’s owner. But Gyopi shares the manga’s covers with Wapiko. So she’s the main character, but is she also the protagonist? Heck if I know.
The story opens with three students gathering mushrooms. The girl, Wapiko, doesn’t just find a mushroom; she finds an unconscious girl. She turns out to be Chitose, the new transfer student who got lost on her way to school. If the fact her father just died and she’s forced to now go to a bumpkin school wasn’t overwhelming enough for this ojou-sama, then, well, dealing with everyone at Inakano Middle School does the trick. Especially Wapiko, whose energy and seemingly randomness Chitose can’t keep up with.
Long story short, Chitose isn’t bankrupt with just a pink goldfish to her name. Chitose uses her money to take control of otherwise soon-to-be-abandoned Inakano Middle School. It’s not just out of generosity; she wants to show up the snobby kids at her old school, particularly Yurika, her rival and student council president of Tokaino Gakuen Middle School. While Chitose hopes to raise the illustriousness of her school, that’s really hard when everyone else is very happy with the school’s laid-back atmosphere. And it’s not like her new fellow student council members — Wapiko, Aoi, and Shuuichi, the three who found her — are very supportive of her efforts either. Especially Wapiko, who wants all the farm animals to stay.
And by stay, I mean in class. Yes, some of the students are farm animals! Oh, and Chitose’s goldfish doesn’t attend school, but he’s the mascot. And Gyopi truly is more than just rare — he’s a whole other type of unique goldfish.
Wapiko’s desire for fun activities, from eating snacks in the student council room to wanting to go on an excursion, often clashes with Chitose’s vision for New Inakano. Wapiko… Wapiko is a ball of energy. And she’s a bit simple-minded,. A bit like the lead of Aho-Girl: A Clueless Girl in that she just wants to live for fun and games. But Wapiko is not nearly as self-centered as Yoshiko, and while Wapiko may be the most hyper (and the luckiest in terms of finding things and her athletic abilities), she’s not the only one operating on on an offbeat, fun-lovin’ wavelength. Shuuichi is the most pragmatic student at the school, but he’s also not rooting for the school to become strict and formal like Chitose wants. As one of the few down-to-earth characters, he was a natural choice for student council, but he only agreed to do it if Wapiko and Aoi were also appointed. Aoi has delinquent-like tendencies, and coupled with his bluntness, he tends to squabble a lot with Chitose. He’s usually seen wearing his glasses.
There are plenty other characters both human (Bunta, a bald male classmate) and livestock (Ushi-san aka Furyou Ushi-san [Mr. Bull aka Mr. Bad Bull]), and their appearances serve as a reminder that this is no ordinary school. Heck, even the principal is an eccentric! Meanwhile, Chitose’s corrupt lawyer (the one who was trying to take all of the Fujinomiya assets for himself), now works for Yurika. Oh, and I can’t forget Gyopi, who just wants to eat potato chips!
Kingyo Chuuihou! is just a silly but fun school life comedy. This is a series where just about anything goes, and almost everyone in this story is missing a few screws. (And some height, as I’ll discuss later.) It’s just a series of various misadventures as Chitose tries to rein in the other students, the Tokaino crew interfere with Inakano’s/Chitose’s plans, or, most often, the students’ own quirks cause a ruckus. Lots of chapters are divided into parts, which is rather unusual for a plot-light manga like this one. In fact, early chapters are really long (100+ pages) and were divided into parts when being serialized in Nakayoshi.
But anyway, Kingyo Chuuihou! is a gag manga. It’s the type of series where most of the cast is hanging out in SD form. The main cast is presented in a normal manga style at times, and while characters like Chitose and Yurika, who think of themselves as high-class and above all the insanity, just keep proving they’re on the same level as everyone else. This is even lampshaded a few times with some fourth-wall breaks. Another character has some… interesting wide eyes. You’ll always be able to pick him out of a lineup!
Of course, there are also anthropomorphic animals hanging out, and, aside from Gyopi, it’s the cattle that are featured the most. There are several different key ones, so you need to look at the cattle’s hairpiece or scars to tell them apart. The rest are just there to be Wapiko’s farm friends. Like at times we see Wapiko trying to help a bunch of kittens, but to identify Miiko out of them wouldn’t be easy unless you had her colors memorized. Pages can be quite busy, as you would imagine, as this isn’t the type of shoujo manga to have dramatic spreads or have characters spending a lot of time by themselves. The retro style may be offputting to some, but if you are familiar with some of its contemporaries (Magic Knight Rayearth, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon), it shouldn’t take that much to dive in. But it is the kind of series where you want to read all the asides and the text tends to be different sizes to reflect the characters’ tone.
The worst part of the manga is when the manga tends to bring in normal (at least, relatively normal) girls outside the core class or a certain relative of Chitose’s. I just would rather see the class going on a field trip, Chitose trying to act glamorous, or Tanakayama avoid Yurika’s wrath when he fails to do his hope. It’s not so much the storylines as much as how long some parts can go on for. The longest one arc goes on for is six parts; that’s quite a while for a series like this. And so, like a lot of comedy manga, the anime adaptation tends to be better since it can pick and choose the arcs and have multiple people writing jokes instead of one person. In addition, a couple of characters who could felt like they were going to be an ongoing recurring role fell a little short of that standard.
The manga also doesn’t have a conclusion. It’s just the latest school escapade involving a special visitor, and then the end. I don’t know if the magazine axed the series or if Nekobe needed to finish it in a hurry, but just suddenly, bam, the end. There is a bonus episode that was made years later, which is included in the shinsouban and its respective digital version. The series was popular enough to be voted #1 on getting a reprint when Nakayoshi was celebrating its 60th anniversary, but I believe that is literally a reprint of its original run with no extras. Anyway, it’s a disappointing feeling when you don’t feel like you get to say goodbye to the characters.
Still, Kingyo Chuuihou! has a certain charm, and it is no surprise people still demanded it and the anime years later. It’s just the sort of bizarre manga that only this medium can get away with. It seems like, at first glance, it’s a fish-out-of-water tale — after all, Chitose goes from an elite school and lifestyle to having animals as classmates. Yet it’s really the story of a girl who is deep, deep into those waters. And all the others down there tend to follow her. Not surprising because middle schoolers tend to want to have fun, so why wouldn’t they take cues from the one who tends to have a single-mindedness toward having the most fun — and having the energy for it? Plus, it’s always funny to see others react to her, like the teacher gritting his teeth when Wapiko shares her one idea for the future.
Chance of License:
Well, it’s old, so yeah, unlikely. Especially since it’s a comedy, and comedies tend to be risky. Particularly one that’s a shoujo gag manga.
C’mon, if Discotek can pick up all of Sgt. Frog, surely they or someone else can release Kingyo Chuuihou! It’s only 54 episodes, so even if they had to do a complete box (versus a part one and a part two, I mean) it wouldn’t be that expensive. Plus, since it shares much of the same staff, fans of the first season of the original Sailor Moon anime might want to check it out since the two series have a lot of similarities in tone and execution. There are even a lot of Kingyo Chuuhihou! references in the show, which are well-documented on the Internet.
Since Kodansha seems to use the shinsouban version as the digital version has its drawbacks. The shinsouban doesn’t include color pages, but as usual of rereleases, they are thicker than normal volumes. Nekobe’s covers, which were drawn around 2005, also somewhat clash with the art inside, which is from the late 80s, early 90s.
Another one thing to consider is that Wapiko has a very odd way of speaking. For instance, she often says はよーん, “hayoon” or some other form for “ohayou”, stretches out her syllables (きーて instead of the standard きいて/聞いて), and just generally speaks childishly (including using her name for “I”). Plus, some of the animals have sound/species-related name. Like, there’s Ushiko — do you go with Cowko? Keep Ushiko? And their speech tends to be in more scribblish script versus the standard font for humans. So that requires extra effort in translating and lettering.
Wapiko’s absurdity combined with the absurdity of everyone else — including Gyopi, whose secrets take a little while to be exposed — overcome the manga’s dragged-out arcs and lack of an overall narrative. Readers will too busy enjoying seeing girls hang out with a goldfish or witnessing a delinquent bovine to worry about such things. The anime may be better, but it’d be nice to have both options in English.