by Kio Shimoku; adaptation by David Ury
published by Del Rey Manga; $10.95 US
It’s a time of change for the fanboys and -girls who make up the club dedicated to manga, anime, gaming, cosplay, and porn. Saki, the non-otaku who only hangs around because her boyfriend belongs, almost burned down the school by accident at the end of last volume, resulting in the club being put on suspension. To make it up to the members, she agrees to participate in a costume contest.
There’s also the problem of them being locked out of their meeting rooms and having to gather in member’s apartments. Saki works well as a contrast to the club fans, since she’ll say or do anything without reference to their feelings. She’s brusque and uncaring, to better distinguish herself from them (although she’s just as obsessive, only her obsession is her boyfriend). She doesn’t respect their boundaries, hunting for their secrets when invited into their rooms. Terrible behavior for a friend, but great to push stories forward.
When I read Book 1, I didn’t get it, mostly because I didn’t know the characters. Over several more volumes, they’ve grown on me. I know them better, and they’ve gotten to know each other as well, resulting in more nuanced character interaction. Shimoku portrays them honestly but not meanly. And the art’s still full and detailed, making for a dense read.
Halfway through this volume comes a significant turning point. The president steps down (to engage with real life, as it’s time for him to start thinking about life after school and finding a job) and a new one is selected. With a new leader comes a new mission for the group, to produce their own manga and sell it at Comic-Fest, a large upcoming convention. Existing members form new relationships, and new members join.
It reminded me of the way high school TV shows add new cast members with a new season to keep the show young and gain different character combinations. The new guy here seems creepy obsessive, but I’m intrigued by Ogiue, a manga fan who hates otaku, especially other females. She wears her hair so that she looks like Alfalfa, but her strong personality has a lot of potential.