manga


This is a goofy school manga with a very specific focus: Rumi Yokoi is a studious and quiet girl who just wants to study but unfortunately, she sits next to Seki who does everything else than study. To amuse himself, he invents the most elaborate games. Sometimes, Yokoi tries to warn him to stop and pay attention to the teachers, but invariably she instead starts to follow his antics closely. Yokoi is also the one who gets in trouble for not following the teachers.

Seki sits behind the tallest boy on the class so he can do pretty much what he wants, such as building long domino rows, sculpting structures from sand with almost surgical precision, or bringing in cats to class. When he brings chess or go pieces with him, he ignores the official rules and plays his own games.

In a couple of strips, we get some continuity but the vast majority of the strips are stand-alones. At first, Seki and Yokoi seem pretty different from each other, but clearly Yokoi, too, has a great imagination; sometimes she invents her own stories from Seki’s play. Seki never talks.

Funny and goofy manga, although there’s some repetition. A few strips are set outside the class room. I liked the clear and detailed drawing style a lot.

The Finnish edition has three volumes called Pulpettinaapurit. Apparently, ten volumes have been published in Japan (and English). The Finnish editions have some clarifications about a couple of Japanese cultural points and the names. Apparently, most of the names of the characters are some sort of play on words.

This is a three volume Japanese comic based on Makoto Shinkai’s animated movie of the same name. I haven’t seen the movie.

The idea is very interesting: two young people switch bodies when they’re asleep. They know nothing about each other or each other’s lives. This is a very fine way to mess up each other’s lives.

The beginning of the story is somewhat confusing. Mitsuha is a young woman who lives with her little sister and grandma in a small village. She dreams of living in Tokyo and perhaps even being a young man in Tokyo, where life would be far better. Her father is the mayor of the town but they’ve grown very much apart.

One morning she wakes up, not knowing who she is. Then we jump to the next morning. Mitsuha hears from her family and friends that she behaved oddly the previous day, not even knowing her name. She has no memory of it. Then the next morning, she wakes in a boy’s body in Tokyo. Of course, his life isn’t as rosy as she thought.

Taki is the boy who switches his mind with Mitsuha. He works in the local restaurant and has a crush on his beautiful co-worker. He’s not happy about the switch.

I really enjoyed the art work. The beginning of the first volume was rather confusing but otherwise I quite enjoyed the story. However, I thought that the strange things that Taki and Mitsuha did during the first day in each other’s bodies was brushed off rather quickly. But when the dramatic story line started, it really drew me in.

A dystopic science fiction series of six volumes.

The series is set in a future Japan where the computer system Sibylla oversees everyone. Using psychometric scanners it scans the moods, emotions and thoughts to find out if the person is stressed enough to possibly commit a crime. It does it all the time and the results are seen in that person’s Pscyho Pass which everyone must wear at all times. If the indicator number is too high, the person is classified as a latent criminal and they must either submit to therapy or go to jail.

The Sibylla system is also in charge of figuring out which job each person is best suited for, and therefore the happiest doing just that. People can’t apply for jobs which the system doesn’t assign for them. In theory, Japanese people are happier than ever and crime, especially violent crime, is very low or non-existent. Of course, this is a dystopia, so things don’t work like they should.

The Public Safety Department is responsible for capturing any latent criminals. They have inspectors who are the equivalent of detectives and the enforces who are responsible for capturing the (latent) criminals, usually with violence. Enforces are usually themselves former inspectors who over the years have started to resemble too much like the criminals they’re trying to capture. This, of course, creates friction between the enforces and the inspectors.

Akane Tsunemori is the only one of her class who got the perfect score and so she can choose any vocation, including the inspector. Which she does. Capturing criminals is a very demanding job; most criminals seem to be devilishly ingenious murderers or serial murderers.

She’s immediately put to the field where she meets her team: one experienced inspector, four enforces, and one tech. Also, Akane’s immediate boss and a couple of other people from the department have significant roles in the story.

This is a pretty violent, grim and almost hopeless story. It calls into question the role of Sibylla but also the roles of inspectors and enforces and their relationships to the criminals. On the other hand, the violence isn’t an end for itself: the criminals are murderers and their victims are a necessary part of the story. Also, the characters, some of the criminals included, think about their world and their role a lot. The ending is good and appropriate.

This is a very high-tech world. The enforces use weapons called dominators which kill or stun a latent criminal. The weapons themselves need to scan a high indicator number before they function. Also, hologram characters and virtual reality are a big part in a couple of the chapters. Akane’s apartment can also change how it looks whenever she wants.

The manga is based on anime called Psycho Pass which I haven’t seen. I read the Finnish edition which is called Tarkastaja Akane Tsunemori and translated by Suvi Mäkelä.

I recommend this series for anyone interested in grim detective stories and dystopia lovers.

A ten-volume manga comedy series.

Nichijou (which apparently means Everyday in English) is a surreal comedy manga series set in a Japanese high school. It doesn’t have plot lines, but rather strips of varying length. Most of the time the strips have an ensemble cast of character but sometimes focus on just one character. We’re first introduced to trio of friends: the class clown Yukio who is often late and dodges doing her homework, quiet and industrious Mai, and Mio who is often cheerful and has a real drawing talent. We’re also introduced to Nano who is a robot girl but doesn’t want anyone to know that she’s a robot… except that she has a giant wind-up key in her back, and her eight-year old creator the Prof who loves sweets and building sneakily more stuff inside Nano. They later adopt (or are adopted by) a cat who can talk because of one of the Prof’s inventions. Later, the cast grows a lot larger.

Many of the strips start with an ordinary situation but either something surreal happens or something escalates to surreal proportions. It’s easy to read a strip now and then because there’s not much continuity between them. The further the series continues, the more absurd the humor becomes. However, if you like the first volume, you’re likely to like the rest, too. One of the strips has a science fiction / science fantasy feel and it was one of the few which actually had continuity. I enjoyed it and thought at first that is was some sort of weird video game one of the characters was playing. But no. The end left me quite baffled.

I read the Finnish editions and the translator has put in some notes about Japanese customs, foods, and other things which are shown in the series. They were very helpful. Here, it’s translated under the name Arki (ordinary days in a life).

The balance between the first three friends (Yukio, Mio, Mai) is quite good. Yukio tries to get the other two to do funny things with her, not always succeeding. She tried to copy off the other’s homework, also not always succeeding. At one point Yukio and Mio fight, which starts off a bit uncomfortable but end sweetly. Mio draws mostly handsome boys and is afraid that someone else sees her work.

I enjoyed the series and enjoyed most of the strips and the characters. However, some left me baffled. There’s also an anime series based on this manga, but I haven’t seen it.