Welcome to the Koguresou apartment complex. Please don’t mind the paper-thin walls, the mess everywhere, the absentee landlord, or the non-stop barking. It’s a cozy place, really. So long as you don’t mind the eccentric neighbors and having to listen in on all their romantic drama.
Koguresou Monogatari is a single volume manga about the various strange people that live in this decrepit apartment complex together, all of whom have some wild things going on. The middle-aged guy upstairs spies and peeps on everyone, the university student in the apartment below him has a never-ending stream of boys coming in and out, but the real drama starts when the life of a happy couple is shaken up by a mysterious visitor. Mayu’s first boyfriend disappeared over 3 years ago, without ever saying goodbye or letting her know what happened. Then one day he just shows up on her doorstep, insisting that they’re technically still together.
The story was written by Shion Miura (The Great Passage, Run with the Wind) with art by Dodo Yamazaki, who I unfortunately don’t know from anything else. Its 7 chapters alternate between protagonists, showing us important snippets of these characters’ love lives and how their romantic encounters help them overcome their mental hurdles. These stories are engaging and fun, with my favorite chapter being the one where Koguresou’s peace is further disturbed when a baby is dumped at the apartment complex.
The storyline involving Mayu and her long-lost boyfriend gets the most attention, however, and definitely goes in unexpected directions for such a short manga. It feels like you get way more out of it than the manga’s length would imply.
Dodo’s art is also certainly worthy of praise. The character designs are varied and nice, which is helped along by the appealing artstyle intended for a josei audience. Backgrounds are also neat and I enjoyed the more expressive, comedic moments sprinkled throughout.
What I will say, however, is that some of the manga’s potential isn’t fully realized. The peeping tom never really gets much of an arc or even that much background story, and instead we spend quite a lot of time with a young woman that doesn’t even live in the apartment complex and is only tangentially related to Mayu. It makes me wish we had another volume of this to expand on all the characters.
Koguresou Monogatari is surprisingly strong for such a short manga and is well-worth seeking out if you’re a fan of josei manga and-or romantic dramas.