Wave, Listen to Me!, Vol. 1

By Hiroaki Samura. Released in Japan as “Nami yo Kiite Kure” by Kodansha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Afternoon. Released in North America digitally by Kodansha Comics. Translated by Adam Hirsch.

The digital-only manga is something we’ve seen pop up quite a bit over the last few years, and now the big print companies are getting into it as well. Hiroaki Samura is well-known and beloved for his classic samurai series Blade of the Immortal, so you’d think that his next project would be an obvious get. But just like you don’t necessarily pick up the Fullmetal Alchemist creator’s new work when it’s a farming manga, you don’t necessarily have a built in audience for the samurai guy writing about a brash young woman who finds herself recruited for the wonders of the local radio station. Luckily, Kodansha is releasing this digitally, and I think it’s strong enough that with good word of mouth, it could warrant a print release.

Wave, Listen to Me! runs 100% on its heroine, and if you don’t like her, you’re not going to like the book. She doesn’t exactly make it easy to like her, either. When we meet Minare she’s drunk, talking to an older guy in a bar simply because he’s there, and bemoaning her recent failed relationship. You’d expect that this is the sort of behavior that would only come out when she’s drunk, and that she’ll regret it later. This is only partially true – she regrets some of the whining and bad relationship talk she gave, but it turns out that she’s pretty much like this when sober as well. Why is she regretting what she said to some guy in a bar? Well, turns out he recorded her… and that he’s a radio producer. When she hears her ranting monologue on the air, it leads to the possibility of a brand-new career. Which is good, because Minare’s life right now is a hot mess.

This is a fun, funny manga, and I enjoyed that it allowed us to be amused at all of Minare’s horribly wrong choices without actually making her look pathetic or annoying. (Also, ten points for her athleticism in taking out the guy who supposedly is assaulting her – though again, this turns out to be an error in judgment.) Minare says what she thinks and tends to act impulsively, which is why she’s a walking disaster, but is also why she has guys like Nakahara who are totally smitten with her. The parts of the book dealing with her radio career are more interesting than the romance, and I am very wary of the “other woman” who shows up to allegedly help at the restaurant Minare works at to make up for her brother’s running over the owner (as is Minare). But honestly, I would read 200 pages of this woman reading the phone book to us. It is very much a one-character title, and I really love the character.

Luckily, I won’t have too long to wait – the second volume is out next week. If you enjoy manga about strong, loud, flawed adult women and their misadventures in living, or even if you just love radio, this is a winner. Go buy it so we can get it in print.