.Wazuka Icchomae article published in Animerica Extra Vol. 4, No. 12, November 2001
This article was written by and is copyrighted to Patricia Duffield and may not be reproduced in part or whole without permission.

Wazuka Icchomae* (Wazuka on Her Own) is so much fun! Okay, that's not very objective... Wazuka Icchomae is a sweet, delightful story about a girl and her dog. This comic is the creation of Mochiru Hoshisato, who demonstrates in this one-volume story his undeniable talent for writing touching, heartwarming stories.

After school, young Wazuka stops by the local sushi take-home shop. It's her birthday, but her single mom's busy working. So Wazuka buys two of her dog's favorite --Mach- go (long o)* loves chakin-zushi!

On her way home, Wazuka sees some boys bullying an animal. Naturally our heroine stops them. Although the boys think it's a mouse, it turns out to be a large, tailless, unidentifiable rodent with a fanny pack strapped over one shoulder. Wazuka scolds the boys. They've taken care of school pets and think rabbits are cute, but they think mice are nasty? The boys sneer at her for using her teacher's pet reasoning and run away. Dubbing the creature Nezumi (meaning mouse or rat), Wazuka kindly offers the rodent one of Mach-go's (long o) wrapped sushi. She's surprised when Nezumi politely bows his thanks. Alone again, Wazuka goes to a little grave, Mach-go's (long o) grave. There, she announces she's twelve and asks, "Please eat this with me," as she tearfully consumes the chakin-zushi. At home, she assures her mother over the phone that she's fine, but it's plain she's lonely and badly misses her dog.

From Heaven, Mach-go (long o) observes Wazuka's pain and debates with Kami-sama (god) to let him return to earth. Kami-sama is unsympathetic, as it was Mach-go's (long o) own fault he was killed by a car in the first place. But Megami-sama (goddess) is moved to tears over the plight of Mach-go (long o) and Wazuka. When they observe the boys bullying Wazuka, Megami-sama gives Mach-go (long o) a dog collar with stars and sends him back. He will remain on Earth as long as there are stars on his collar. Then Mach-go (long o) finds himself plunging to Earth. His initial fear turns to determination as he thinks of Wazuka. He recovers from his dramatic landing to discover he's only a spirit, but he can talk like a human. Once he gains his bearings, he's off to help Wazuka. Just as Mach-go (long o) is about to enter the scene, someone shouts, "HALT!" It is Mach Kamen (Masked Mach) to the rescue! ...It's really Nezumi in a mask and cape, but he does a fine job of chastising and chasing off the boys. Mach-go's (long o) thunder is further stolen when Nezumi, after consoling Wazuka, announces he is Mach-go (long o). What's a poor dog spirit to do?

Mach-go (long o) finds Nezumi an unsympathetic but helpful ally. He also learns things he never could as a regular dog, such as the fact that the leader of Wazuka's antagonists kind of likes her. Taichi may come off as stupid ruffian, but he's actually smart, always second in class behind Wazuka. He's just too much of a kid to express himself properly.

So amidst all the amusing antics involving caped wombats (it turns out Nezumi's a wombat) and dog spirits is a story about growing up. At only one volume in length, this series is not a major financial commitment. The story and dialog make it an excellent choice for people learning to read Japanese as well as for those who just want to enjoy a charming, heartwarming tale. Published by Tokumashoten, Wazuka Icchomae is sure to tug at your heartstrings.

*The back of the manga spells it "Icchomae."
Please include this footnote:
Mach-go (long o) is the Japanese name of Speed Racer's (Go (long o) Mifune's) car in Speed Racer (Mach Go Go Go).