Yuu Watase picked quite a title. What does "Imadoki" mean? Translators claim that it means "Now and Then", and it is written in katakana (the alphabet Japanese use primarily to write foreign words) because it is italicized. But another meaning has been found, whether Watase meant it or not. When writing out in its romanized form, "Imadoki" easily could be mistaken for the phrase, "I'm a dork". "Now and Then" and "I'm a dork" are completely different titles, but, amazingly enough, they both fit this series.
Watase has been pretty consistant with her previous works. Although all are considered shoujo manga, Watase has kept a constant theme of fantasy mixed with romance, where some sort of magic has been used. One girl gets sucked up in a ancient Chinese story, another girl is the reincarnation of a tenyou, etc. In Imadoki!, there is only the magic of friendship, and it even takes place in modern day Japan.
There's nothing out of the ordinary. So what makes this series so good? It is the story of a country girl named Tanpopo Yamazaki, who moves to Tokyo all by herself to attend a very large and high-technology high school, Meiou Academy. It starts out when Tanpopo, too excited for her first day of school, visits the high school the day before. After jumping the wall while on her bike, she literally runs into a handsome young man holding a shovel, who had been planting a dandelion, or "tanpopo" in Japanese.
The two part without Tanpopo catching the young man's name. Fortunately, she runs into him immediately the next day, and he turns out to be the most popular guy in school, Kouki Kugyou! When she attempts to talk to him, though, he is a completely different person with a cold personality. Despite this and the harsh treatment from her classmates, Tanpopo decides that she will be good friends with Kugyou.
Tanpopo attempts to remind Kugyou of the previous day by showing him the dandelion, which he tears out of the ground and tells her as well as a bunch of other classmates that real flowers are not allowed in the school. Tanpopo breaks this rule soon after with her new friend, Saiyonji, when they replace all the fake flowers with real ones, tending to them way before school. Kugyou takes notice of her real flowers, but does nothing.
This plan flops, however, when Tanpopo looks out her apartment window one day and notices a downpour. She runs to the flowers and covers them with her coat, hoisted on sticks, so the flowers wouldn't be ruined by the heavy rain. Then Tanpopo hears footsteps behind her, and before she could turn around, she faints from being out in the rain with no coat. The footsteps turn out to be Kugyou, who realizes her compassion for the real flowers, and comes to her aid. After he takes her to her apartment and takes care of her for a little bit, he notices the pictures on her wall of her and her friends from her junior high. This surprizes him, as the only friends he knew were just sucking up to him because he came from a wealthy family. After that, he decides to be Tanpopo's friend and allows flowers to be planted at school.
There were many details left out, though, and the story continues from there. All the more reason to pick up the first few volumes and get reading. Still not convinced? Read on.
Imadoki! is full of humorous parts that are very entertaining. Some examples include the characters that come in later, and that Kugyou's weapon of choice is a shovel. Although Imadoki! is mostly humor, it has its serious moments too. It has moments where the reader feels like setting down the book and letting out a high sigh of contentment. Ok, maybe not. But it's moments like those that have Watase fans hooked on her work.
Another factor to the Watase addiction is the artwork. No one may doubt that she has talent. Her drawing skills have been fine-tuned since Fushigi Yuugi. In Imadoki!, Watase has made the characters even more life-like. The eyes have a sharper look, and the bodies, better porportioned. Unlike Ayashi no Ceres, in which Watase didn't keep herself from drawing a few nudity scenes, Imadoki! has kept all characters fully clothed, in quite fashionable clothes. The school uniforms are even chic.
Imadoki! started being published in Sho-Comi in the summer of 2000, so it is a fairly new series. In fact, it is Yuu Watase's newest. The first few tankoubon (novels) are out already, and for the Japanese-impaired, there are translations available on Tetris no Miko's site: http://www.geocities.com/ tetrisnomiko/. Don't waste any time: this is a must for Watase fans, new and old.