by Julietta Suzuki; adapted by Peter Ahlstrom
published by Tokyopop; $10.99 US
The female Pinocchio returns with more stories about a girl robot going to school. This volume expands her supporting cast, with boy robot Chris returning from the first book to join her little family.
I still like it. Odette’s restraint is a pleasant contrast to the emotional roller coaster experienced by her friends with crushes. She wants to be like them, learning about love and human interaction, but her quiet presence has its own appeal.
A class stud calls her “cute”. Asao, who knows her secret, confuses her by saying she’s not, but that’s more a reflection of his own uncertainty and youth. Still, she doesn’t have enough experience to know that, so she works to make herself “cuter” without ever really understanding what it means and how it differs. I find it amusing how much the odd behavior of a mechanical girl can be mistaken for weird teenage moods.
A friend breaks down because everything isn’t “perfect” when it comes to the boy she likes. Odette is perfect, but that makes things more complicated, not less. Actually, that’s not true, because the foreshadowed weakness from the beginning of the story of course affects Odette when she sacrifices herself to help her friend.
Adding Chris to the cast is a great idea, because he’s even less aware of expected behavior and human nature than she is. She’s no longer the most naive person in the story, and watching her try to shepherd Chris along and share the benefit of her experience with him is charming. He’s got no opinions about anything yet, other than his growing feelings for her. She tries to introduce him to her friends, but he’s making his own acquaintances, a fledgling leaving the nest more quickly than she’s ready for.
Another story tackles that convention of the shojo genre, making a bento box for a boy you like. Odette, since she has no taste buds, of course makes atrocious dishes, but she has a comforting faith that feeding your loved ones is a worthwhile activity, that nothing warms her heart like hearing them say that her food is “tasty”. Asao once again demonstrates his unique role in her life, being the only person who will tell her the truth, whether her food is actually any good or not.
Watching these young people learn about life and grow into their own personalities is touching. The robot concept just makes the normal problems of adolescence more prominent, providing great material for these stories. Also of particular interest in this volume are the artist’s sidebars, where she posts sketches of some of the cast done with brush inking instead of pen. They’re lovely. (The publisher provided a review copy.)