Tamon’s B-Side Volume 4: Don’t Ignore Me!!!!



With idol romance, comedy, and romcoms being such a hot ticket item for manga, what does Tamon’s B-Side volume 4 provide that sets it apart from the pack? … it’s hard to find an answer to that in this volume, truthfully. We’re four volumes deep now, so of course things have changed. It’s just that it’s a little… slow. It remains cute, relatable, and endlessly energetic- but it lacks the substance to surpass those descriptors. The contents of each volume remain mildly incremental, and have a hard time really finding a way to make themselves distinct. It creates a very homogeneous experience that teeters into monotony- save for a few developments that oddly enough begin to drag the reader away from the selling point of Tamon’s B-Side.

So let’s start with that monotony. Tamon and Utage’s relationship remains fairly set in stone. In fact, as part of those few developments, we see more development there. Either way, the firmness with which Utage clings to her ever-expanding responsibilities with Gloomyhara is funny- but it also holds back any potential with romance. It’s a big trade-off to make, and one that feels increasingly frustrating as Tamon himself continues to show growth and improvement, but Utage is left in the dust. She reels backwards when seeing him in public, but still spends the entire day with him, for example. There’s a considerable incongruity with how Tamon works, and how Utage does. She feels comparatively frozen in time, and as the center of attention it gets to be a little tiring.

Though, Utage’s relative stasis is a consequence of the narrative, so it’s not entirely “her” fault. Tamon’s B-Side volume 4 continues the trend of placing romance in the back seat, something that I complained about back with volume 2 of the series. Back then, my sentiment was that it’s not “bad” for romance to be a secondary in their story, but it means one of two things needs to happen. Option one is that the romance needs to move forward at a faster clip. When you give it less time, it simply becomes an irritable piece of the background rather than a change of pace. The second option is to lean harder into the comedy- really put your strongest effort into it. If it wasn’t clear, this isn’t what’s been happening. The humor does remain comedic and consistent, but it really lacks an edge- something to command that star role that pushes the romance out past the fringes.

The more… grating part, I might say, is that there’s potential in Tamon’s B-Side volume 4 to really extend its humor into that realm. The series has really deviated and is pushing for involvement with all of F/Ace- and I do like it. Ori’s character is fun, and Keita’s personality is a great counterbalance to the wild nature of Ori and the bipolar Tamon. The issue is that this humor is directly tied to the romantic plot. The two threads are inseparable, which makes it hard to really appreciate the solid dynamics between the idol group. They all have strong archetypes that hide another face, and Yuki Shiwasu does a great job of maximizing the humor with those split personalities… it’s just that those two personalities only collide beneath rose colored lenses that focus on Utage.

Take Ori’s newfound interest in Utage. From a character perspective it makes sense. From a narrative perspective it’s a reasonable conclusion to add drama. From a thematic perspective though, it’s a struggle. It cements Ori as a character that can only operate on both fronts through Utage, forcing her as a sort of medium for readers to experience the story to its fullest. And now, that wouldn’t be bad- if one of the two options outlined above were in effect. If the romance were more important, then the developments of Tamon’s B-Side volume 4 would be more valuable, or if the comedy were stronger, Ori’s personality would be able to shine without Utage as a catalyst.

To simplify the entire argument, Tamon’s B-Side volume 4 deftly expresses the gulf that the series finds itself in. On both sides there’s potential- either in romance or comedy- but Shiwasu has proven to struggle when faced with the inclusion of both. There’s a lack of dedication to a direction that would allow Tamon’s B-Side to separate itself from the masses. Sure, generalizing the work might allow it to better land with a wider audience, but it also sacrifices a deeper connection or interest in pursuit of that. I could very well say a lot of people will find Tamon’s B-Side volume 4 (like the rest of the series) enjoyable, but I can’t speak much further past that. Visuals are solid- but humor doesn’t extend far enough within them. The story is serviceable, but outside of that lacks weight. There’s romance, but it drags its feet and injects drama before a main pair can even be established. It’s a volume of ifs, ands, & buts. If you’re looking for more to read, it’ll probably be fine. If you’re looking for good series to get into, I’d say this one can wait a little while longer.

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