Anne Happy: Unhappy Go Lucky! Volume 1
For cute and silly manga fun, Anne Happy: Unhappy Go Lucky! by Cotoji is a pretty good choice. It’s got a weird yet approachable premise: unlucky kids are all put in one high school class together.
Hibari, with long dark hair, is our identifiable protagonist. She’s bemoaning her bad luck on her way to the first day of class when she meets Hanako (the Anne of the title, with a short orange cut), who managed to wind up hanging off a bridge because she tried to rescue a puppy (who bit her). Hanako loves animals and has really bad luck, but she keeps a good attitude in spite of it all, finding the most positive interpretation of any situation.
Filling out the trio is Botan, who gets easily sick or hurt, to the extent that shaking her hand too hard gives her finger fractures. As a result, though, she’s really good with first aid and health supplements.
The class goal, since everyone has “negative karma” and is weighed down by misfortune is “to find happiness”. It’s that focus on keeping a good attitude that kept me enjoying the stories. It’s fun to see how they manage to win through in spite of things. The girls are adorable, with short plaid skirts, so I am not at all surprised to learn that there was an anime adaptation as well.
In this volume, we’re introduced to the girls and the premise; the friends find out the unusual person that Hibari has a crush on; the girls take physical fitness tests; the class goes on a hike; the friends visit Hanako at home when she’s sick; and the class plays a life-size board game. Many of these events are ridiculous, but they’re shown with good humor.
Although rated for Teens, I was surprised to see the translation use the occasional profanity, as when the teacher snaps the class to attention. I liked how quickly the chapters moved along, and the fullness of the art, with plenty of background and establishing detail. With everything that happens, this feels like a substantial, worthwhile read, with more time spent than some other manga.
Hibari sums things up nicely as the girls picnic in a lovely outdoor settings: “Maybe that’s what these ‘happiness training’ lessons are all about? Helping us notice the simple, small ways to be ‘happy’ that are right under our noses.” I can get behind that idea, and this humor manga is a great reminder of how important that attitude is. (The publisher provided a review copy.)