Ojojojo, Vols. 1-2

By coolkyousinnjya. Released in Japan by Takeshobo, serialized in the magazine Manga Life. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Ben Robert Trethewey. Adapted by Clint Bickham.

Well, this was a pleasant surprise. We’ve seen a lot of this author’s works over here recently, including Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, which I dropped after a few volumes as I found it overrated, and Mononoke Sharing, which I didn’t like at all. Here, though, in a 4-koma series that lacks either monster girls or fanservice, I’ve found a series I can get behind. It helps that this handles the ‘4-koma slice of life’ genre very well. There’s always a danger in these sorts of titles that it will end up being plotless and lacking in forward motion, moving through the school year, festivals, etc. and ending up at graduation. Ojojojo, though, seems to actually care about character development, and things do, in fact, happen. Indeed, our leads end up dating by the end of the first book, which surprised me a great deal. That said, it’s not a surprise, as they complement each other perfectly.

…OK, perhaps they don’t complement each other perfectly immediately. As you can see by the cover, where they stand as far apart as they can and still exist, there’s a bit of awkwardness. This is because Haru Jikogumeguri (you can tell she’s rich because the name is *six* syllables) is socially inept and therefore acts like an arrogant rich princess, and Tsurezure Kawayanagi (who seems to be of modest status, despite also having a “rich” last name) is sopcially inept and therefore doesn’t really interact at all, preferring to stare at nature. When she transfers into his class, they bond almost despite themselves, and the joy of this book is watching the two of them grow close and learn how to communicate honestly. They’re helped by Akane Tendou, Haru’s first female friend in class and the relatively “normal” one of the group, Haru’s acid-tongued butler, and Chris, an English transfer student who has a similarly arrogant introduction as Haru did, but gets away with it more (probably as he’s a guy.)

Haru is the sort of arrogant rich girl you can’t help but love, especially once you get her semi-tragic backstory and see her earnest yet awful attempts to change her ways. The first volume is fairly normal 4-koma stuff, as we learn about our heroes via various quick gags and the occasional sweet moment. (The author says he planned to end it with the first book.) In the second half, he starts to deepen things, particularly the relationship between Haru and Akane, which turns out to involve a lot of misplaced guilt on Akane’s end. (The last name is a bit unfortunate – be assured she is not crossing over from Ranma 1/2.) By the end of the 2nd volume our leads have progressed to holding hands (which, given their personalities, is a big jump), and Chris is beginning to get over his own arrogance. There is one more omnibus to go, though, and since we know next to nothing about Tsurezure (who is unrelated to the Children of the same name, speaking of which) I suspect the next book will go into his past in an effort to move things along further.

Add to this next to no fanservice (Akane is jealous of Haru’s large chest at one point, but it’s a normal large chest, not the massive bosoms we see in Dragon Maid and Mononoke Sharing) and you have a title that’s a perfect introduction to casual fans who want to read a nice romantic comedy and don’t mind the “gag comic” format. A nice pleasant surprise.

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