*Warning: This may contain minor spoilers*
First and foremost, let’s get something out of the way. I’m not a huge romance fan when it comes to anime. I’ll watch it if I have to, otherwise, I really won’t go near it unless I’m really in the mood for something fluffy. However, when it comes to manga, I do a complete 180. I’m a total sucker for shoujo manga. I could sit and read them all day and never tire of them. It’s one of my guilty pleasures.
Now that that’s out of the way and out on the table for the world to see, I decided to check out the highly praised Warau Kanoko-sama. It only has 3 volumes with 15 chapters altogether and has a well-spoken-about sequel. So, I thought, “Let’s give it a go!”
Synopsis: This manga is described in places around the internet by a single phrase: “It’s high school meets nature documentary.” A third-year in middle school has transferred schools about 185 times altogether. Because of this, she keeps to herself and doesn’t make any friends. She considers herself an ‘observer’ and narrates everything that she sees happening around her including love triangles, steamy gossip, inner-school politics, you name it. But what will she have to do in order to remain an observer and not get dragged into any drama of her own? That’s where our story begins.
Story/Plot: I must admit that I try to go into every anime and manga without reading the synopsis or summary, just because I don’t want to have any types of expectations, whether good or bad. But, I decided to do it with this one since the reason why I wanted to check it out in the first place was because of its positive reviews from the community. It sounded so unique and interesting to me and I was very excited, especially since it has a sequel, so I knew there’d be plenty more to the story than just a mere 15 chapters.
Oh my God. I was deceived and oh, so wrong. I’ll admit that I was super into maybe the first two or three chapters. But then I noticed one of my most hated story-telling techniques: repeating the same exact formula for every single chapter. I can’t explain with words how much I can’t stand those types of stories. I would be fine with this one if the mangaka didn’t have a formula/blueprint that was followed for each chapter. It’s actually the biggest reason why I have a huge problem getting into detective shows (don’t kill me). After a while, you just start to guess the order in which everything happens.
In this case, every chapter started off with the same phrases of her just explaining to the reader for the umpteenth time that she transfers a lot, that she’s an observer, and that she loves it. We get it. Each chapter, or I guess ‘scenario,’ that she encounters at her new schools starts off the same exact way, too. She overhears some drama, says she’s not going to get involved, but stalks those people anyway, and then voluntarily (even though I’m sure she doesn’t think it was) steps in to “save the day.” That’s every single chapter apart from the last one. Fun.
Characters: This was the saving grace for this manga. I have to be honest that I did initially drop this manga when I first picked it up. I let it marinate in my head for a few days and then I realized that I was still super curious about some of the recurring side characters and whether or not they would all stay together. So, I picked it back up and suffered through the story just to get to the points that I wanted: the other characters.
So, there’s the protagonist, Kanoko, who honestly didn’t make much of an impression. At least, not as much as I was hoping when I first started reading. I was too busy skimming through her dialogue because I was bored with the story and of her constantly repeating herself. Sure, she had different qualities that 99% of other shoujo heroines don’t and that’s great and makes for a unique read! But when someone talks about the same things every single time they have the spotlight on them, I won’t be paying any attention the fourth time around.
The other three were the three most popular and beautiful students from one of her past schools (that we get reminded about and re-introduced to nearly every time they show up again). One was smart and ‘dark,’ I guess you could say, and the others were more of the comedic relief. But to my surprise, they weren’t the forcibly ditzy and funny kind. They were actually very adorable and charming and I found myself smiling whenever they showed up.
Favorite Character: I just know that everyone who reads the response to this is going to say, “Yep, of course,” but whatever. So, my favorite character from this manga was none other than Tsubaki. Why? Well, first of all, he was the only one of Kanoko’s friends that would travel miles just to see her (even though he always had some type of convenient excuse of being near her current school; don’t lie to yourself, Tsubaki). It may just be my inner girl talking, but that’s very touching. In this day and age, some so-called friends won’t even walk two minutes to see you. So, I thought that was a plus for his character. The other factor that came into play for this choice was the fact that he just seemed to always know exactly how to handle Kanoko, even when she was at the edge of insanity, which was also refreshing. I’m pretty annoying in real life, so it’s always nice to see when there’s a person that can correctly handle me during those moments. I think that’s why I took an instant liking to Tsubaki.
Overall Score: My rating will have to be a 4/10, purely for the surprising enjoyment that I got out of the other characters surrounding our heroine. Otherwise, for the story alone, I would give it a 3/10, maybe even a 2/10. Funny how just liking some characters can make me raise the score, huh? That’s a character freak for you.
Do I Recommend This?: So, this is a tough one for me because I don’t really want to recommend this to people, but I’m actually about halfway done with its sequel, Koi dano Ai dano, and that one I would recommend to shoujo lovers, so I’ve kind of reached an impasse… Because, I mean, you kind of need to read this one before that one, so… It’s just a vicious circle, so take it as you may. On the other hand, it’s only 15 chapters…
I’ll let y’all know my final thoughts on its sequel once I’m done with it!