RSS icon Twitter Link  Facebook Page 
Home About Us Contact Us Banners Anime Watchers Club

NOTICE: Yumestate Anime is no longer being maintained and thus has been put on Archive mode. Links and functionality are limited.

Posted on: April 6, 2012 11:04 am by small image

Been a while since I did a manga author spotlight, but I haven’t given up on the feature! This time I’ll write a little about some of Kojima Akira’s works–particularly my favorite manga of his, the peculiarly-titled “Wa!” To put it simply, this manga is absolutely hilarious, and is likely my favorite four-panel gag series.

It’s another series set in high school, or perhaps more specifically, it’s a wacky romcom of sorts. Emphasis is definitely on the comedy, though there are some more serious–perhaps even heartwarming–moments from time to time. The hilarity lies largely in the premise: Character A has fallen for Character B, who has fallen for Character C, and so on…  all the way to Character G, who has fallen for Character A. In other words, it’s the most ridiculous love circle ever, since each character has a fairly silly reason for her or his infatuation. Love is blind though, and considering this is high school, I suppose each character’s “reasoning” is legit enough!

As the characters try to get the attention of their loved ones, they also engage in daily school life and hang out with their friends. In fact, I suppose the majority of comics are devoted to characters just conversing with one another… and generally about the most trivial of things!  Many of the jokes start along the lines of “Did you ever notice how… [INSERT RANDOM OBSERVATION HERE]?” Of course, it’s rarely something people actually think about, though many readers will realize “Oh yeah, that’s so true!” once it’s brought up. Some jokes (such as puns) are rather difficult to translate effectively (which may be a reason the series hasn’t been fully scanslated yet, and why it will likely never be officially released in English), but in general I’ve found most of the gags quite hilarious.

Perhaps what I like most about Wa! is how it manages to effectively blend two types of humor, namely 1) quick gags and 2) gags set up through a series of plot points. Many jokes stem from the wacky hijinks going on at that very moment, but at the same time Kojima Akira is using these wacky hijinks to actually move the plot forward in various ways… all to set up future jokes. At first it is a bit tricky to keep track of everything that’s going on with seven different protagonists (if you can really call them that), but the characters are very recognizable, so it gets easier as you go along. And if you enjoy the series as much as I do, you’ll go back to earlier chapters anyways to relive some of the gags.

It’s a bit rare for me to like every single character in a comedy series, but this is one of those instances where I’ve found every single one of them amusing in her or his own way. It’s a series that definitely plays with some of the character archetypes you are likely all familiar with, but it does so in ways that are fresh and amusing. The tsundere trope is particularly made fun of, such as when one girl repeatedly denies liking the boy she’s infatuated with, to the point of explosions bursting from the top of her head. The series includes a tsundere boy as well, though it seems that despite his best efforts to find some way to show his affection to the girl he likes, he’s fated to repeatedly abuse her in some way (generally through misunderstandings and comically bad timing). Wa! also plays with tropes such as the childhood friend and the otaku, but my favorite character is probably the tiny girl named Mizuki (pictured above, riding on a boy’s back for the sake of finding out what it’s like being up that high). She’s… eccentric, to say the least? Her hobby is spying on other people, and she’s the one that comes up with many of the funniest observations. She’s got a rather blunt personality, and is generally a rather straightforward character with a deadpan expression. Of course, she does have her more… enthusiastic moments. XP

Kojima Akira has another manga set in the same school, interestingly enough–this one is called Manabiya, and it focuses on a photography club. Because Manabiya and Wa! both take place at the same high school, characters from each series sometimes “guest star” in the other, which is a fun way to show how at any school there’s always a lot going on for all those students you don’t see, save for those passing glimpses. In the case of Manabiya, the story is more of a slice-of-life romance, so things are taken more seriously than Wa! (which is much more of a gag comic). The characters in Manabiya are pretty unique in their own ways, but unfortunately not much of the manga was ever scanslated (and it’s been a good while since there’s been any updates). It looks like a nice series though, and you’ll probably especially like it if you’re into photography at all.

The last manga I’ll mention by Kojima Akira is called Mahoraba, which I believe was adapted into an anime at some point. I’ve only read from the first volume of the series, and feel that it’s not for me. Like Manabiya, it also has a slice-of-life feel to it, but works with harem tropes (as it’s about a boy staying at an apartment with a bunch of girls his age). The twist here is that the main girl (his landlady, oddly enough) has multiple personality disorder, so most of the humor comes from the bizarre situations that ensue due to her drastically shifting behaviors (eg really sweet and kind in one scene, harsh and boisterous the next, and then like a little kid after that). It’s probably worth checking out if you’re into this sort of genre.

In conclusion, my #1 suggestion is going to be Wa!, which is currently one of my favorite manga in terms of comedy. It’s great for a laugh, and you may end up like me, anxiously waiting for more chapters to come out! I’m pretty curious to see if Kojima Akira will find a clever way for the series to end one day (if ever).