Kitai Fuku Ga Aru Review

10:00:00
A while back, thanks to Misako Aoki’s Instagram post and excerpts posted in KERA Online, our community got a whiff of a new manga called Kitai Fuku Ga Aru. The unmistakable figure of a lolita on the cover against the background of Harajuku’s Takeshita Street was precisely what got everyone so excited and Netaro Tsuneki’s story is indeed about a lolita. She’s not somewhere in the background, nor is she a minor character - right at centre stage. Since I was going to Japan anyway, I made it a point to get a copy there to save on postage from Amazon and I have finally read it.

A new must read for lolitas? Let's find out!

The manga follows Mami Kobayashi, a university student. She balances trying to become a teacher with part-time job, yet she struggles with confidence, having in the past been teased and bullied for being tall. Because she lacks confidence, she dreams of wearing lolita fashion and the dress she already owns, yet doesn’t have the guts to go through with it. Although things begin to change when she discovers that her new co-worker unashamedly wears flashy Harajuku fashion outside of his work uniform.

While the title literally means ‘[I have/There are] clothes I want to wear’, the cover has another English title: ‘I show my true colors shining through’. And while it could be a somewhat cheesy reference to the 1980’s pop song, I feel it reflects Mami’s story so far well. Through volume one we learn about her struggle with confidence, as well as see the first glimpses of her embracing her frilly hobby. Her true colours are shining through, but not quite fully showing yet.

Usakumya owners, how many of you have done that too?

For us, as lolitas ourselves, the plot is highly relatable. Many of us have had rocky starts to our journeys into the fashion, trying to find the confidence to wear it outside, hiding it from the outside world and/or building the courage to attend a tea party. Moreover, the height struggles will be familiar to many of non-Japanese lolitas too. The feeling like we may not be pretty enough to wear the fashion, yet conversely feel ourselves most beautiful when wearing it, is a fairly universal one in a world where women are still taught that their value lies in their physical appearance. Many of the things in Mami’s life will sound familiar to lolita readers, which makes the manga that much more realistic. If we know that these things have happened to us, then certainly they could have happened to Mami, making the reading that much more enjoyable.

This is a loud fashion, so concerns about the public's reactions are a common worry.

What I also enjoyed about Kitai Fuku Ga Aru is that it’s not a platform for direct advertising for any particular brand. There are certainly cameos and some of the dress styles may feel familiar as belonging to a particular brand, but none are mentioned by name. The only familiar name in the story is that of KERA Online (and the fact that it’s the online version and not the magazine also places it in contemporary times) and it’s there naturally, as one of the sites that Mami frequently uses to get updates from the lolita fashion world. As charming as it was for Momoko in Kamikaze Girls to be obsessed with Baby, the Stars Shine Bright, keeping the story free of brand names means that readers can project a little bit of their own style onto what Mami is wearing, making her a little closer to our hearts. Or just makes for a fun ‘guess the dress’ game for those more experienced in the fashion.

KERA Online does actually post a lot about upcoming events or cute
places to visit, so it makes perfect sense for Mami to regularly browse it.

This review is based solely off volume one. Going forward I am very intrigued to see how Mami’s relationships with other people develop. Right now it’s too early to tell and things could go in a variety of directions. Particularly I am curious to see how her relationship with Ozawa-kun, her co-worker, and Minayo, a fellow lolita, will develop. I would very much love for the story to focus on girl power and women building each other up, as this is what I feel we see most in our community, although as long as the author stays away from cheesy love plots, I’ll be happy. It will also be fun to see how Mami’s experiences as a lolita will feed into her future career as a teacher. This particular subplot has had a good start and it is one I did not expect, so I look forward to seeing how it will develop. Like I said, right now it’s too early to tell anything, so let’s just wait and see.

As a community, we are very supportive of each other. We also want
others to experience the joy of wearing this fashion. I think this is
something that the manga should explore more.

The style of drawing itself is not something that I am keen on. I don’t read a lot of manga or watch a lot of anime. The bits I have read/watched usually had either a cuter, softer style of drawing (understandable, as it was shoujo) or were more cartoony, for a lack of better word? What I mean to say is that with something as visual as lolita fashion I may have expected some panels to capture my eye and attention on a purely aesthetic level and make me want to have framed copies hung on my wall. However, there were none that I would’ve liked that much. The characters are well drawn and their personalities are well sketched out (although Mami’s two friends sort of blend for me, but they also haven’t appeared that frequently), the style of drawing does not detract from the story or the characters. This is purely personal preference and I imagine that as the story goes on, I will probably get used to it or even grow to like it.

That feeling when you finally get your dream dress!


At the moment I believe the manga is available solely in Japanese. I have read on Rufflechat that the snippets on KERA Online are translated, as well as that someone on CGL had managed to post some translations, though I can’t vouch for the quality of either of those. If you are learning Japanese, I would say that this is more of an intermediate read. It is fairly easy going for the most part, yet there are plenty of parts which get either a bit more wordy or have slightly more complex vocab/kanji, so it would be great for someone who wants a bit of stretch-and-challenge.

I would definitely recommend this manga to all lolitas to read. This has the potential to be the next Kamikaze Girls: something iconic and relatable, which is explicitly about us, lolitas. It would be great to see it translated well into English to make it accessible to a wider audience. And depending on how the story continues, it could also make good material for adapting onto a screen, a TV show or a full-feature film. That’s quite a far-fetched future for now though.

Have you had a chance to read Kitai Fuku Ga Aru? What did you think? 

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for the review!
    As I am planning to learn japanese, I've bought the #1 volume to have it when I learn, but I was curious about the story since I can't read it and looked at the pages very very curious. Thank you very much <3

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    Replies
    1. So far the story definitely has me hooked. It's only the beginning, but I am very interested to see how and where it will go. Although I definitely would recommend it for later in your learning Japanese, this is definitely an intermediate kind of read. And in the meantime you can practice on old GLB and KERA magazines. :D

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