Dengeki Daisy, Vol. 11

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.

Dengeki Daisy, Vol. 9

By Kyousuke Motomi. Released in Japan by Shogakukan, serialization ongoing in the magazine Bessatsu Comic (“Betsucomi”). Released in North America by Viz.

I haven’t done a full review of Dengeki Daisy in a while. It’s been a very rough stretch recently too, as Kurosaki’s past has finally come out and things have taken a relatively dark turn. It may be disquieting for those who were enjoying this manga for its wacky romantic comedy and physical and verbal abuse of the leads. Luckily, this volume not only wraps up the dramatic arc (while leaving room for more in the future, of course), and gives us plenty of laughs.

Sticking with the dramatic for a moment, I liked how this was resolved. The dramatic thrust wasn’t “how will Kurosaki stop the bad guys all by himself”, it was “how will everyone get Kurosaki to stop destroying himself with guilt”. I was therefore not particularly surprised when I saw that a deus ex machina (or rather, deus ex Akira) had taken care of most of what they had to do. This allows Kurosaki and Teru to return to some form of normalcy. In particular, their reunion is pitch perfect, bringing some comedy back to the series at last, and giving some real heart – you really wish Teru was older so that these two lovebirds could finally get together.

As Teru notes, she *can’t* forgive Kurosaki – because right now, he can’t forgive himself, and as long as he can’t, there’s no point in other people doing so. However, he at least now knows that separating himself from everyone is not the answer, and if anything his love for Teru is even stronger. (In a purely platonic sense, of course – this is lampshaded by Riko, who tells him to give Teru physical comfort without giving her physical comfort, if you know what I mean.)

This leads to the second half of the volume, which might be fairly frustrating for those who were expecting that we were nearing the end of the series. After a brief fight/misunderstanding regarding Teru’s emails, the two decide that they will email each other as themselves from now on, and ‘retire’ Daisy – while at the same time realizing what Daisy did for both of them. It’s really sweet. However, when Riko notes that Kurosaki still hasn’t confessed to her, he notes that after everything that happens, it feels like they’re starting over, and he wants to take his time and get closer to her again. This is known as the “your series is very popular, let’s find some new subplots to add” syndrome. Still, I’m not opposed to it when the cast is as fun as these guys are.

I’ve occasionally compared this series with Black Bird, which also features a heroine who seems to be in constant peril, but could not be more different from Teru. Here in North America, you’d have to actively seek out both series to compare and contrast them, so the chance of a crossover audience is smaller. In Japan, though, both run in the same magazine – Betsucomi. This might make it easier to read both of them – you get Black Bird’s sensuous guilty pleasure for 40 pages or so, then you can flip to Dengeki Daisy’s more dynamic heroine as an antidote. (And then they can read We Were There for crushing despair! Though that ended this month.)

Dengeki Daisy is a riveting romance, with lots of emotional rollercoasters, a great sense of humor, and a heroine who rises above her peril to be strong and likeable. Not to mention a handsome, admirable (if grumpy) hero, who is only called a lolicon about 6 times in this volume, which may be a record low. (It’s in fun, trust me.) Highly recommended.

Bookshelf Briefs pointer

For those who read my reviews by category (like me), I have reviews of Dengeki Daisy 6, Itazura Na Kiss 6 and Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney 2 in this week’s Bookshelf Briefs.