Nurse Angel Ririka SOS: a biased complaint from a biased fan

Please note before reading: as the title says, this is merely a biased complaint from a very biased Tokimeki fangirl, mixed in with some trivia from 90s Ribon that I thought some people might find interesting. If any Ririka SOS fans are reading this, I really don't want them to take offense! I'm a Tokimeki fan but also an Ikeno Koi fan, and I don't mean to disrespect any of her works (although I retain the right to complain about Akimoto Yasushi, ahem).

This was originally published on my tumblr on May 13th 2014 as part of a "30 Day Manga Challenge".

Ririka SOS tankobon vol. 1-4

30 Day Manga Challenge day 22 -- a manga you wish didn’t exist
Nurse Angel Ririka SOS by Akimoto Yasushi (story) and Ikeno Koi (art)

As some of you might have noticed, I'm a huge fan of Ikeno Koi's long-running manga series Tokimeki Tonight. In 1994, Ikeno was writing the third installment of the series in Ribon magazine. At that point it had been running for twelve years, accumulating 30 best-selling tankobon and continuously staying at the top of the popularity polls, even though Ribon was full of other massively popular manga at the time (Chibimaruko-chan, Marmalade Boy, Hime-chan no ribon, Kodocha, and so on).

And then, Akimoto Yasushi (yes, AKB48's Akimoto Yasushi) came along. There were talks of him providing the story for a new magical girl anime, and the tie-in manga was going to run in Ribon. Akimoto had been a famous person with quite a bit of power to yield in the entertainment industry since the 80s, but at this point in time, Akimoto was also a powerful force in the shojo manga industry: Azuki-chan, an anime that he wrote the story for, had become a long-running hit on NHK, and its manga version was one of the top titles in Ribon's eternal rival, Nakayoshi. Moreover, Nakayoshi had a strong lineup of both manga and anime around this time, with Sailor Moon at the top followed by Magic Knight Rayearth and Kaito Saint Tail.

As a result of Akimoto's popularity with Azuki-chan and Ribon feeling threatened by Nakayoshi (which had even managed to surpass Ribon's circulation for a time), Akimoto could do pretty much whatever he wanted. So he did: he picked Ikeno Koi as the artist for his upcoming manga and anime project. Even though she was in the middle of writing a popular, long-running work. And he wouldn't settle for anyone less.

This is how the serialization of Tokimeki Tonight was cut short in 1994, with Ikeno unable to complete the storyline she had planned all along, and forced to tack on an ending which failed to resolve some very obvious foreshadowing and left the readers wondering what the hell had happened.

The manga and anime that came into existence by sacrificing Tokimeki Tonight was, obviously, Nurse Angel Ririka SOS.

The thing is, it's not even like I think Tokimeki Tonight was all that good towards the end. I mean, it's 30 volumes long. I absolutely love the first 16 volumes, quite enjoy volumes 17-22, and the rest is, well, fine. But it was Ikeno Koi's life work, and she had supported Ribon with her work all these years (only taking one break in 12 years, when she had to deliver her baby), and she obviously had plans for how to continue and end this last storyline. She didn't deserve what happened. No one does!

And it'd be one thing if Ririka turned out to be a world-changing, massively popular title like Sailor Moon, but it kind of... didn't? I'm not saying it bombed, exactly, but it only ran for 35 episodes and four volumes! While Sailor Moon and Cad Captor Sakura are modern classics dear to millions of girls' hearts, and classics such as Minky Momo or Creamy Mami are still beloved by fans, Ririka is barely remembered! I know it has its fans, I'm not going to say it was horrible or anything, but let's face it, it wasn't that good or popular, either.

So, basically, I'm bitter. And this is why I've held a grudge against Akimoto Yasushi even before I got interested in AKB48.