[Manga Review] “Ebisu-san and Hotei-san”, a Heart-Gripping Tale
Ebisu-san and Hotei-san is a manga about two radically different women who hate each other, and due to various circumstances end up being coworkers.
Ebisu-san is a talented and intelligent worker from the head office, who previously met Hotei at a meeting in the head office and told her off for being unprofessional and incompetent. For personal reasons, she moved to the smaller regional office in a lower position as an office worker, and is placed next to Hotei. Because of her incredibly cold attitude towards her coworkers, comes up with a new organizational system that undermines all of the work they did previously, and never stays for over time beyond 5pm (apparently a big deal in Japanese corporate culture from what my mom told me about Japanese people she worked with), she attracts a lot of animosity from the other workers. Despite knowing that she’s hated and being pranked on by others, she rarely shows any expression at the workplace.
Hotei-chan, still bitter over being told off at the meeting, hates having to work with Ebisu and criticizes her with the other coworkers. The polar opposite of Ebisu, Hotei isn’t as intelligent while working, and can’t achieve the same amount of work even while staying long over time. Also, despite her cute appearance, she is actually full of jealousy and spite and is part of the deterioration of Ebisu’s relationships with the rest of the coworkers. She develops a tsundere side to her, as she becomes confused with her mixed feelings of love and hate towards Ebisu, who happens to also be a woman – an unconventional love.
Although the manga is yuri, it should appeal to non-yuri fans too. The manga has a lot to offer, with drama that doesn’t feel fabricated but feels realistic. I usually really hate drama, but this manga does it right. Another thing this manga does right is the handling of a tsundere character; most tsundere characters I see are incredibly fake and stereotypical, and are extremely unreasonable. This manga does it so well that I hesitate to call Hotei-chan a tsundere at all, more like a real person with some tsundere characteristics/actions born from her conflicting feelings. I feel like we can all relate to the cognitive dissonance within her, and her confusion from being so irritated with someone yet being so in love.
The portrayal of jealousy and relationships in the workplace seems to be an accurate reflection (though I have no experience in the matter), depicting the cruelty of being alienated and how everything doesn’t always happen the way you want it to.
Nothing else has ever made me sit up and stare into my screen so much, and all the unexpected twist and turns! The story develops in a way that is unexpected, yet doesn’t feel out of place. The decisions made by the characters aren’t what you think would happen, but when you look back at it it’s exactly what the character’s personality would tell them to do.
The artstyle is cute and similar to shoujo style but not overly so, though I still think you can call it shoujo? The fashion design for the characters looks good (at least for my tastes), not overly revealing and not too boring.
The relationship between Hotei and Ebisu really take a turn when Hotei follows Ebisu after work to discover the reason Ebisu never does overtime: She has to take care of her niece.
This stirs up even more confusion within Hotei, as on one hand she is jealous at Ebisu’s ability to work hard yet manage to take care of a child while on the other hand she has to acknowledge that Ebisu is a good person, which conflicts with her jealousy and hatred. This dissonance prickles at her constantly, culminating into an increase in hatred, blaming Ebisu for coming into her life and making her feel this way. A fine example of how many of us don’t deal well with cognitive dissonance and make bad decisions.
However, Hotei isn’t completely heartless and develops a soft spot for Ebisu and her niece, Hana. She can’t take her eyes off of Ebisu, and when Ebisu has to stay late for a work emergency she helps pick up Hana and takes care of her for the night.
I really love this story, and wish it would continue. It’s ending is like a new beginning. I haven’t read something so sweet yet so touching in a long time, and like I said many times earlier, it is really realistic. This story really gripped my heart, and kept me tense for the entire ride. When I finished, I had to think back and reflect on the story several times.
I would like to ask you to please, please read Ebisu-san and Hotei-san.
If this story can touch your heart to half the extent of which it touched mine, invoke half of the joy I received within you, then I believe that you would really love this manga.