Pearl Pink – Meca Tanaka: Series Review

Pearl Pink, translated from Tennen Pearl Pink, by Meca Tanaka originally ran in Hakusensha’s LaLa magazine from 2002-2004. It was published in North America by TokyoPop from 2007-2008. Pearl Pink was Meca Tanaka’s second serialization in LaLa.

Pearl Pink Cover 1

Pearl Pink Cover 1

The Gist: Tamako Momono is the daughter of a super popular idol, but for the past 10 years her existence has remained a secret to protect her mother’s image. Previously at her grandmother’s, Tamako’s mom Shinju wants her back, but to keep her identity secret she’ll have to live with her mother’s producer. Kanji is the son of her mother’s producer, and happens to be Tamako’s childhood love interest. When Kanji and Tamako are reintroduced ten years later Kanji mistakes Tamako for a boy. Tamako is determined to make Kanji her husband, but she’s lacking in domestic skills and feminine wiles. Tamako does her best to make herself valuable to Kanji. But will Kanji ever reciprocate her feelings or will they remain unrequited?

The Review: I went looking for this series since I’d just read and enjoyed Meteor Prince. I anticipated being a little lenient in my review since I knew Pearl Pink was one of Meca Tanaka’s earlier series. But it really isn’t necessary. Pearl Pink stands well enough on its own.

The first scene in the manga had me hooked, as Tamako is the type of female protagonist I really enjoy reading about. She is being picked on by some bullies for money and Kanji driving by on his scooter witnesses it. He stops to help, but instead watches as Tamako kicks the bullies butts and they take off running. But they steal Kanji’s scooter! Tamako takes off like Tarzan swinging through the trees to catch the thieves. Meanwhile Kanji’s “star meter” starts buzzing and he thinks Tamako has good charisma for a boy and would be a good candidate for sports commercials. Only for Kanji to go home and find the “boy” Tamako being introduced as Shinju’s daughter. And she’s going to live with him!

And that’s only the first scene! Tamako is a very energetic, bubbly character with plenty of determination. She reminds me a lot of Kyoko from Skip Beat! Her goals change as she matures as well. She goes from the naive goal of wanting to be Kanji’s wife to actually wanting to do something independently for herself – no need for Kanji to be her husband anymore. Not that she doesn’t care for Kanji, but she realizes her happiness does not rely solely on pleasing him. The growth and changes of both Tamako and Kanji make the characters both interesting and dynamic. The series is only four volumes, but I never felt that it was lacking in plot or had too much filler. Tanaka did a good job of working with the characters she had created and making their story relevant. Even the side characters helped to make the story more pleasant.

Two page spread from vol. 1

Two page spread from vol. 1

The Art: I enjoyed Tanaka’s drawings, and even though this was an older series, I didn’t feel too overwhelmed by tonal patterns or unnecessary flourishes. The art was pleasing to look at, and the characters are well drawn. Paneling is well utilized as well. Those two page spreads really help emphasize the important moments. Tanaka has a good grasp of character expressions as well. Overall the series was a very enjoyable read. My only gripe would be the poor editing done by TokyoPop. I found typos or grammar mistakes in multiple volumes.

The Audience: Pearl Pink is perfect for a teen/tween audience, and the female protagonist is an admirable role model. A kiss or two is the most you will see from the main couple.

The Media: Pearl Pink is available in four volumes from retail manga sellers. Even though it’s TokyoPop, there are still copies available to buy and plenty of used copies still circulating. I found mine for about $4.00 a volume.

Heart of Manga Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Wow, I really think this series could have done better for TokyoPop had it been handled right. I had no idea about it back when it was published. Better marketing would have made Tanaka a more well known name, especially with Faster Than a Kiss currently running at the time. I hope that Shojo Beat will continue to bring us more titles from Meca Tanaka in the future.

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Super mom and teacher until the kids go to bed, then romance manga addict and writer until the caffeine wears out! Specializes in the shoujo and josei genre of manga and anime.
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  • Wow, I might have to check this out!! Great review, as ALWAYS 😀

  • Great, fleshed out review. I haven’t read any of her other series, but I have heard of Pearl Pink. If I come across the series (used or via the library), I’ll check it out. I like series that have evolving, strong protagonists and are short, easy reads.

    • Well that description fits this manga perfectly. 🙂 I hope you find it and enjoy it as well.

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