Kakafukaka, Vol. 1

By Takumi Ishida. Released in Japan by Kodansha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Kiss. Released in North America digitally by Kodansha Comics. Translated by Erin Proctor & Molly Rabbitt.

I’ve talked before about the fine balance that some titles need to walk with character development. It’s good to have characters with notable flaws, so that you can show them growing, learning, and changing. On the other hand, particularly in manga where a casual reader can drop a series after the first volume (when most stories have only just laid out the basics), if a character is too unlikable they risk annoying the reader too much. Kakafukaka is a josei series with two people who, at separate points and together, may grate on the reader’s nerves. The supporting cast also has its own issues, and there isn’t really a character that I can hang my hat on here and say “well, at least they’re sympathetic”. On the other hand, this sort of cast and plot is the reasonIe’ve been wanting more josei in the first place, and seeing these broken twenty-somethings blunder through life is why I’m here.

Aki is a young woman who feels it’s been a bit of a downhill slide since middle school. She’s drifting through life, can’t find a steady job, and has a self-loathing complex a mile wide. Oh, and she walked in on her boyfriend screwing another woman. Which means she’s now looking for a new place to live as well. Fortunately, one of her friends is getting married (which comes as a surprise, as she hadn’t told Aki yet) and is looking for someone to take her room in a share house she’s living in with three other boarders. To her surprise, she knows someone else who lives there: Tomoya was her classmate in middle school… and also the boy she lost her virginity to. That said, everything got awkward after that and they drifted apart. Now we’re ready to pick up where we left off? Not quite. Tomoya, it turns out, has erectile dysfunction… something that seems to be cured when he’s around Aki, much to his surprise and Aki’s discomfort. As a result, they reach a very uncomfortable agreement.

Kakafukaka’s issues are front and center, and also the point. Tomoya asks Aki to sleep in the same bed with him, both so that he can get a good night’s sleep (he’s been dwelling on this) and also so that he can see about curing himself. He promises not to “do anything dirty”, but as Aki herself notes, the entire premise kind of revolves around his getting hard when in contact with her. In addition, Tomoya is not all that happy with Aki’s super-low opinion of herself, one of the other flatmates has a crush on Tomoya to a disturbing degree, and Tomoya himself is simply hard to read – one of those “mild-mannered” mellow but stoic types that you see a lot of in titles like this, so Aki can’t help but receive mixed signals.

And so you have a series that shows a lot of promise, but has working against it the personalities of the two leads and the basic premise of their needing to be together. I’m optimistic that the series is going in a positive direction, but the reader might want to wait till a couple more volumes are out and read them in one big gulp.

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