By Kyousuke Motomi. Released in Japan by Shogakukan, serialization ongoing in the magazine Bessatsu Comic (“Betsucomi”). Released in North America by Viz.
I’m trying to think when Dengeki Daisy went from ‘shoujo series I quite like’ to ‘one of my top recommendations for shoujo period’. Probably around Vol. 8 or 9, when the thriller aspects of the title were at their height. Of course, this is not to take away from the comedy or the romance, but Daisy blends all three quite well. Judging from the cover, you might think that this was another melodrama like We Were There, and certainly there are a few dramatic angsty elements. But what’s most thrilling about this title is that it feels almost like a movie – action revelations, lots of running around, kidnappings and threats. A modernized Republic serial, without all the stupid bits.
This volume mostly deals with Teru’s friend Rena, who has come a long way from the ‘princess’-type we saw early in the series. She’s somewhat trapped in an arranged marriage due to her family’s business, and is not very fond of her fiancee. Nor should she be, as he is a jerk through and through, something that the author really doesn’t try to hide at all (she even apologizes to the reader for all the face time he’ll be getting). Amusingly, he’s also shown to be a second-tier bad guys, and the true villains such as Chiharu have little respect for him. But this doesn’t mean he’s not a danger to Rena herself, and the cliffhanger is set up beautifully. It also gives Teru a chance to experience what everyone else in her group goes through when she’s kidnapped or threatened… and I don’t think she likes it any more than they do.
Earlier in the volume, when everyone thinks that Kazuki is merely a jerk fiancee, they set about trying to support Rena and cheer her up – while at the same time allowing her to handle the situation, which she feels she needs to do. I love the way that this manga handles its romances. Both Kurosaki and Kiyoshi (who has a crush on Rena) want desperately to simply sweep in like a white knight and solve all their respective love’s problems, keeping them safe from all harm. But both know that that’s just selfishness, and try to keep a balance between protectiveness and simply being there when needed. (To be fair, this cast does get into danger constantly, so you can see why they’re edgy.) Honestly, few shoujo mangas out right now respect their female characters as much as Dengeki Daisy.
Other things to note: Rena’s trick to inform everyone of her true feelings was brilliant, and they’re right, I hadn’t even thought of that method since childhood. Also, when Kurosaki says “wholesome high school kids read Betsucomi”, all I could think was “And unwholesome kids read Sho-Comi!”. (Kyousuke Motomi, like Mitsuru Adachi and Rumiko Takahashi, likes to plug her own work and her bosses whenever she can.) And that final page simply looks fantastic. If you haven’t been reading this series, try to catch up. It’s a complete winner.