Iruka Shimano, an airheaded girl who holds an obsessive longing for Tokyo. But then she gets invited by a friend to a mysterious club that "wanders around Tokyo on bikes"...?
I mean, really! What kind of person writes a story about a cycling club full of cute girls? A bloody genius, if you ask me. Tokyo Cycle Girl follows young Iruka Shimano as she arrives on the "mainland" in Tokyo of all places. I take it that she’s from Okinawa the way she goes on. Either way, everything she knows about Tokyo, she’s learned from her magazines. She's particularly obsessed by bicycles, that device popularised by Robert Redford and Burt Bacharach ( I’m showing my age here). Upon arriving in the big city she encounters a girl who is the total opposite of Iruka. Katou doesn’t like Tokyo, and I suspect she hasn’t liked the city for a while.
Of course, when Iruka comes into her life, they are obviously going to be roommates! The insane and excitable Iruka simply wants to be friends with Katou and be just like her so she’s constantly driving her crazy or knocking her out of the comfort zone. Katou just wants to be left alone. She’s not being anti-social, she just doesn’t see a point in being excited anymore. So she drifts aimlessly in a beautiful city, feeling like Robinson Crusoe. Thankfully, her man Friday, in the form of Iruka, has arrived. Iruka is the audience and the author at the same time. She’s the audience because of her "Ooo, what’s this? Aww, what’s that?" attitudes to everything. Everything she knows comes from a book or a magazine. It’s a tired trope to have on excitable character in the cast but making her the main character was the right way to go. Her sheer energy makes everyone around her take notice of her and of themselves. Katou is a complete tsundere girl, I agree with Sean Gaffney. She acts indifferent but still she follows Iruka around.
The author is here in the minute details of the bikes the characters ride. What every cog does, what every add-on, whiz woz and doo-hickey helps with is described in loving obsessive detail. If you never knew anything about cycling, you will after reading this. Iruka finds a friend in Saika Kawagoe. After befriending her in the local bike shop, Saika takes her under her wing, helps her make upgrades to Iruka’s bike and introduces her to the Bicycle Angels (it’s the school bike club and yes, they are as embarrassed about the name as you are) and the only other known member of the club, Club President Yukimi Shouchikubai, Yukimi rules the club with a velvet covered, feather filled iron gauntlet and Iruka completely falls in (adolescent) love with her after only meeting the president for five minutes. Katou doesn’t want anything to do with this group because she’s ever so aloof about such things. By the end of the first volume, Katou is about two steps from caving in. But that’s a story for another time.
Not one thing or another, Tokyo Cycle Girl walk a line between irreverent and irrelevant, something that really good manga always do. Thankfully, JManga are doing a better job these days in the scope of their titles and Tokyo Cycle Girl is one of them. It’s a funny, ridiculous story with some reflective moments for good measure. Enjoy it, discuss and get back to me if you have any comments, if you like