by Koji Kumeta; adapted by David Ury
published by Del Rey Manga; $10.99 US
With Del Rey becoming just a distributor for Kodansha U.S. in December, it’s difficult reading their recent books, knowing that they are likely to be the last Del Rey Manga titles I see. (Of course, we don’t know what Kodansha plans to do, since little information has been forthcoming from them. They may continue many of these series, or very few of them. I’m preparing myself for the worst while hoping for a better outcome.)
Looking at this series in the bigger picture, then, I’m forced to admit it’s become rather predictable. The pessimistic teacher notices something, which leads into a rant with lots of examples listed. One of the students puts a twist on it, with another list. End chapter, and repeat. I suspect that this winds up playing better as an anime at times. Then again, there’s nothing wrong with formula if the result is enjoyable.
The observations are often thought-provoking, as when he points out how many obligations people put on themselves that no one is requiring, like blog updates, or how the public likes familiarity in their entertainment, with key bits and costumes repeated out of habit. (This one shows up again in a slightly different form in a chapter about trends, with some amusingly exaggerated art.) A cell phone number portability rule spurs discussion of both how you can’t shake your childhood nickname and the manga convention of two characters magically switching personalities. Other chapters tackle getting pulled into other people’s drama, rites of passage, deception, and useless gifts.
I suspect, in looking at the book’s repetitive structure, I’m engaging in sour grapes, finding things to dislike so I won’t be so disappointed if we never see more of the series. I enjoyed many of the chapters, taken on their own, especially the one about people doing things that aren’t age-appropriate. And the art is still impressive, with its stark contrasts. There’s a lovely image of most of the cast in traditional dress with gorgeous patters in the New Year’s Eve chapter. (The publisher provided a review copy.)