15-year-old Kaoruko “Kaos” Moeta is a budding 4-koma manga artist so riddled with anxiety that animals are her only friends. To make matters worse, she doesn’t handle reader criticism well at all. Her editor still thinks she has unique talent though, so on the editor’s recommendation Kaoruko nervously enters a dorm exclusively for young female manga artists. There she meets three other girls her own age: one who specializes in shojo manga but has trouble drawing boys, one who draws shonen action manga and gets a little too into her characters, and another who got talked into making more erotic manga since she can draw big-breasted characters so well. Through interacting with them, Kaoruko gains her first human friends and fresh insight into the process for creating successful manga.
Comic Girls is pretty much exactly what the title indicates: cute girls drawing manga. As cute girl shows go, this falls somewhere between a pure comedy like Gabriel Dropout and a pure cuteness show like K-On. It generally fares well on the humor side, especially when its main cast can bounce off each other. Our lead, Kaos, is a young 4-koma artist who looks like a grade-schooler, even though she’s in high school. A large chunk of the episode is her overreactions to reader criticism and anxiety about meeting new people and screwing up, which mostly consist of her bursting into tears to the confusion of everyone around her. It’s not a bad gag on its own, but the way she does it every other time she talks starts to straddle the line between cute and cloying. Kaos alone can’t carry a scene very well since her routine gets kind of annoying after a while, but it goes better when she has the rest of the cast to bounce off of. The best gags are easily when the girls are comparing their stories about how they got into manga and their problems; Koyume draws shojo manga despite not being able to draw guys, Ruki was semi-forced into drawing ecchi/hentai (the anime doesn’t make it clear which) despite wanting to draw children’s manga, and Tsubasa gets so into her manga that she regularly goes full chuunibyou mid-conversation. None of them are particularly original characters, but they already have a strong dynamic that really stands out when they’re all working together to finish Tsubasa’s manga in time for her deadline. There’s one unfortunate joke about Ruki’s cup size when they’re first meeting (which just warranted an eye-roll from me), but the humor beyond that generally lands. Humor aside, a lot of Comic Girls leans more towards being charming than anything else. It can occasionally become cloying when Kaos is given too much focus, but is generally good at being cute when it wants to be. The aesthetics help immensely here; Comic Girls makes heavy use of soft lighting and cool pastel colors that synergize well and make it generally pleasant to look it. It leans a little more toward slice-of-life than I prefer, but it’s a solid example of it’s genre that I’d recommend to anyone who likes that sort of show.
Recommendation: Watch (if you like SOL shows); Wait and See (if you’re more in it for the comedy)