Last week, I went on one of those drives you take to put the baby to sleep after a long day and ended up at an anime store a couple of towns over from where I live. I was so excited to see this manga on the shelf! As someone who loves Akiko Higashimura’s other series Princess Jellyfish, I knew I needed to give this one a chance. 

This series debuted in 2014 in Japan and just last year 2018 in the USA so this was the first time I had seen it on the shelf though there are several volumes available in English. It follows an ambitious 33-year-old woman named Rinko who has a stalled career and love-life and her two best friends. 

Something I appreciated about the series and you will find out but reading the author’s afterward is that although the story has romantic elements it is not the focus. As the author says, “Happiness isn’t something you get from a marriage. It’s something you have to find yourself . . . you know?” and she even goes so far as to call it an “awful comic” because on the outside it might seem like a Japanese Sex in the City rehash. I am hopeful that tropes will be subverted in this series and reveal some beautiful moments like her earlier work Princess Jellyfish.

So let’s talk about the title shall we? Apparently it’s a pun on two of of Rinko’s favorite drinking snacks, liver (reba) and cod fish milt (tara) that combines to mean “What if” Girls. I love clever names like that. I like liver, I would guess by the size of the dish that they would be having pig’s liver in this izakaya. But I do not like milt aka fish sperm. Then again, I bought it once and didn’t know how to cook it so maybe I actually would like it if prepared correctly.  Izakayas  (Japanese pubs) are becoming increasingly popular in the US recently and there are even a handful near me. I appreciate that the characters frequent a less stereotypical manga place than a cafe or creperie.

I don’t want to give any plot away but I think readers will be hooked on the humor and twist to the story so far and I will be picking up the next volume shortly and checking out the live drama adaptation.