Dengeki Daisy 10

Kyousuke Motomi – Viz – 2012 – 12+ volumes

This series. As I mentioned last time, it’s a little strange getting what I’ve wanted all this time, now that Teru and Kurosaki are together. Everything is so happy and light, I’m just not sure what to think. It’s going so well, in fact, that even their normal bickering has lost some of its bite, and was striking me as a little less funny through the first chapter or so this volume. That’s a shame, because the funny bickering is the absolute best part of this series. It’s worth reading for that alone.

The first chapter was loosely based around midterm exams, and I literally rolled my eyes when the first page of chapter two opened with some super-cliched illustration of what happens over the winter holidays. Christmas dates, New Year’s celebrations… you know. I’ve just read too many of these. But it’s shoujo manga, and these can still be great if I like the series well enough. And I definitely like Dengeki Daisy that much.

Then the second page of that chapter just skips all that. A character yells loudly about how it’s a shoujo manga, and you need details. Teru recounts memories from the break… that another character points out is from a side story in volume 6. Which was probably a Christmas extra from a year or two before. So not only are the winter holidays not worth rehashing in the world of Dengeki Daisy, we get repeats of bonus content that the characters loudly object to.

That’s why Dengeki Daisy is so special. Actually, it subverted expectations again at the beginning of the chapter, when a bully from early in the series shows up and threatens to blackmail Kurosaki unless Teru does him a favor. The set-up is ripe for another episode where Teru gets caught up in something over her head, except she just says no. And it turns out the bully doesn’t know a thing about Kurosaki save for the stupid rumor that was spread to cover the truth.

It happens again later in a one-off chapter where Kurosaki explains to a teacher that there is nothing between he and Teru, and Teru overhears. Rather than a storyline that lasts a whole volume about how Teru is so heartbroken and won’t even listen to Kurosaki… after the preliminaries, it turns out the incident just… uh, turned both of them on, for some reason. Because that’s how awesome Dengeki Daisy is.

The plot transitions in this volume from the happy stuff back into the Akira/international espionage stuff, but it’s less heavy and serious this time. Hopefully it’ll stay that way, since the pasts of all the characters have been resolved and they seem comfortable with each other. The second half of the volume contains another run-in with Akira, and Rena is once again connected to the bad stuff. Bad luck for her.

The volume ends on a cliffhanger, but with the story in a good enough place that it’ll be easy to wait for the next one. Which won’t be out until January. Sob sob. But! In the meantime, this is definitely one worth picking up if you’re looking for a good shoujo series! It’s sense of humor is the best part, which is tied into the way it tends to delight in subverting a lot of the more common shoujo plot devices. But it’s also a good romance, and a genuinely good read. It’s one of my current favorites.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Dengeki Daisy 9

Kyousuke Motomi – Viz – 2012 – 9+ volumes

Like Blue Exorcist, I think Dengeki Daisy is caught up to the Japanese volumes, and we’ll have to wait a while before the next one. Also like Blue Exorcist, this is one of my favorite series. Unlike Blue Exorcist, Dengeki Daisy has reached a good stopping place.

After the ridiculously long flashback and explanation last volume, the story catches back up to the present. In a hilarious panel that admits the problem, the characters mention that it seems like it took forever, like, four whole months, to tell (which is probably how long it took the chapters to run in the original magazine). I forgave it a little for that.

I could see the reunion between Teru and Kurosaki coming. It happens. I was a little worried about this, because Dengeki Daisy… it’s better at humor, and I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about an overly sentimental reunion between Kurosaki and Teru. But there was no other way I could see, because… you know. They both knew everything, and both now realized how much they like each other, so it was bound to be mushy.

Then Dengeki Daisy proved me wrong. The plan to get Kurosaki back.

It wasn’t at all the dramatic storyline it was made out to be. In fact, it was perfectly suited to Dengeki Daisy.

Then. The way Teru broke the tension between the two. It was perfect. Utterly perfect. And hilarious.

I’m sorry, Dengeki Daisy, for ever doubting you. The slow volume of flashbacks was worth it for everything in this volume. I ate it up.

Weirdly, there’s… almost a smutty scene here. Everyone seems to be all about this, and it… seemed like that’s where it was going. It’s side-stepped a little clumsily, and I can’t figure out why after all that lead-up. But still. Uh. I was not prepared for that. Again, though, I love that Kurosaki is a little dirty here. The guys are always such white knights in shoujo manga, and I’m happy that a little seinen dirty old man creeps into Kurosaki at times. It makes him feel more like a regular person.

And the story leaves off in an unexpectedly good place, as well. Without giving too much away, the treat is nearly neutralized, and most of what the characters worry about vanishes. It feels a little unreal, and it’s almost certain that things are not settled, but it does seem like the story might move on to something else for the time being.

Ah, but Dengeki Daisy. I love you so much. Teru and Kurosaki together is a little more serious than I’d like, but they’re slowly getting more comfortable around each other, and it seems like the kinks are slowly being worked out in favor of the funny for later. I can’t wait to see how good that gets later. Alas, that will be some time away, but I’m ready to wait. Dengeki Daisy is worth it.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Dengeki Daisy 8

Kyousuke Motomi – Viz – 2012 – 9+ volumes

Oh, Dengeki Daisy. I like you because you make me laugh. And yet, you’ve gotten so serious. Not just that, but the unveiling of Kurosaki’s backstory is all about sad government deals and technical computer stuff and betrayals and death. It’s neither sad nor romantic. I’ve wished for it for awhile, and it’s nice to get it out of the way… but it’s way more long and involved than I thought it would be, and Kurosaki isn’t around while we learn about it. Also, it commits the sin of “I totally murdered him, except I didn’t actually cause his death but I still feel bad sob sob sob.” I hate that plot device. On the other hand, I knew it was coming, so it’s not that bad.

There are still moments of funny scattered throughout. As long as Teru’s around, there’s bound to be. Her dream conscience always appears as her brother, and when she has dream conversations with him, she argues that she can look however she wants in dreams, and makes herself have big breasts, appear as a samurai, her brother as a maid, et cetera. I was hoping the flashbacks with her brother would be humorous, that he would have the same personality as her, but alas. There’s no room for mirth in those flashbacks.

So yes. After a chapter or so where Teru gets over the shock of Kurosaki leaving, the adults in her life see fit to let her in on just what is happening. And then the rest of the book is spent explaining the links between all the characters, as well as Teru’s brother, and how all of this has led up to the current situation. It’s a necessary story, and it would have to be quite involved in order to be as big as it needs to be… but it’s also about computer programming and hacking. It lost me a couple times. And it’s soooo long.

But, as always, Kyousuke Motomi makes up for it somewhat with her hilarious side notes. Before, I commented that I couldn’t believe she implied that Kurosaki masturbated to thoughts of Teru. This time around, she published a few side sketches, and one of them is Kurosaki scoping out Teru’s breasts over her shoulder when she’s looking down into her swimsuit top to shake some sand out. It’s terrible and completely out-of-place in a nice shoujo manga. But I’m so happy that Kurosaki is that kind of guy.

I still love this series. I really do. That it can still make me laugh with a story this serious is a testament to how good it really is with its funny characters. And again, the events in this volume have been foreshadowed since volume one, so it had to happen sometime. The story carries over into volume 9, and I really hope that it concludes, and we can get back to our regularly scheduled manga after that.

Two things, though. One is that Kurosaki’s super-serious hacking software is called “Jack Frost.” You really can’t call it that. Too many people already know what Jack Frost really looks like.

Read the rest of this entry »

Dengeki Daisy 7

Kyousuke Motomi – Viz – 2011 – 9+ volumes

What an awful cliffhanger! Seriously. I loved that the author note on the last page apologized for… “super go-bald-Kurosaki” story twists, and said that it was just a dumb romance manga, and Kurosaki would go back to flirting before too long. I’m glad she left a reassuring note, because I was just thinking that this series was way too serious for how funny it can be. These serious parts about whether or not Kurosaki will tell Teru his identity… they were getting tedious. The cat is out of the bag, but matters are not settled, so this is going to take at least one more volume to resolve. Sigh. But that more laughs are promised is great news.

Secretly, I also liked the author note in the side bar that implies Kurosaki masturbates to thoughts of Teru. That ranks high on my list of things shoujo mangaka should never ever say, but I love that she crossed that line.

This volume is about as depressing as you would think, and Teru really does find out about Kurosaki’s identity and the things he did. I hate that the point of contention is a stupid blown-out-of-proportion misunderstanding, as is often the case in shoujo manga, but I hate even worse that Teru doesn’t really fall for it, but Kurosaki assumes she does. Shoujo manga! Why must you drive me crazy though I love you so?!

The latter part of the volume is a lot of drama that I’m not really going to talk about (you should read it yourself! It’s really good!), but it does involve Kurosaki’s identity being leaked, a cute amusement park date, and the re-emergence of some bad guys that have been loitering around lately. The first chapter is a cute one-shot story about Teru sticking up for Kurosaki to one of her snobby teachers, who thinks Kurosaki is a bad influence. Teru agrees that if she doesn’t score at the top of her class, Kurosaki will have to dye his hair black. This is too much of a temptation for many members of her class, who try to prevent her from studying.

In an another moment of just how awesome Motomi is, she draws Teru imagining what Kurosaki would look like with black hair, but has never once drawn him bald. I love that the latter is so horribly unimaginable.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Dengeki Daisy 6

Kyousuke Motomi – Viz – 2011 – 9+ volumes

It’s been a while! I still think this series is a bit too dramatic considering its strength is in its humor, but it’s so adorable I forgive it all the melodrama.

The first half deals with the mystery of Mr. Arai and what he’s up to. Teru gets kidnapped, Kurosaki rushes in for a rescue… we know how this goes. The Mr. Arai situation winds up being much different than it seems, and I liked that he turned out the way he did. And admittedly… though Teru gets kidnapped a lot, I loved that this storyline played on the fact that Teru and Kurosaki knew what each other would do, and thus pulled off the rescue and recovery that way.

And in case that wasn’t exciting enough for you, someone threatens to blow up a building, too.

After this, the story goes over more well-trodden ground when Kurosaki tries to figure out whether he wants to tell Teru that he’s Daisy, while at the same time Teru is trying to figure out whether she wants to tell Kurosaki she knows he’s Daisy. This is starting to drive me a little crazy, but to Motomi’s credit, it’s pretty fresh in context. I dread these chapters when they come, but at the same time, I love reading them.

And Kurosaki and Teru are still hilarious together. Again, that’s what makes reading this series so fun. There’s less and less of the two of them interacting with no innuendo, but every bald joke is precious, and they’re still stuffed in there intermittently. The last chapter in the book is pure funny, when a former enemy shows up to dote on a puppy.

I do love this series. It’s starting to slip into its own formulas after six volumes, but at the same time, I still adore the characters and relationships. I just got another volume in the mail, and I’m hoping something new happens. It looks like there might be a new bad guy coming soon, so I’m hoping that’s what I get to see next time.

Dengeki Daisy 5

Kyousuke Motomi – Viz – 2011 – 10+ volumes

Let’s see… lots of things happen! There was a terrible cliffhanger last volume that resulted in Kurosaki taking a massive blow to the head. Teru feels guilty, and even guiltier when the person who did it blames her for innocent people getting hurt. Because it’s Kurosaki, Teru feels ten times worse, and there are about a million adorable scenes between them at the hospital. Somewhere in here too, there’s a lengthy chapter where Teru has to stay with Kurosaki, and there’s a nice and very awkward/funny gift exchange that’s one of my favorite scenes so far. Anyway. Of course, Kurosaki and company have to figure out just who it is that’s targeting Teru, and Kurosaki is very serious now that they’ve tried to harm her, so he’s willing to use his hacker skills again. Teru is trying her own strategies, including sniffing around school and following up old leads on the former Student Council Advisor, Mr. Arai. Ms. Mori, the suspicious health teacher, also gets caught up in things. But the investigation doesn’t get very far here, and it looks like this plot will resolve itself next time.

Again, it’s not really the plot of the series that interests me, but I suppose the characters have to do something. It’s the amazing chemistry between Teru and Tasuku that makes this so much fun to read. Friendly, funny, affectionate, romantic… a nice mix of just about everything nice. Motomi pegs the main characters absolutely perfect, and it’s an absolute joy to read.

Since the big secret was revealed to Teru a couple volumes ago, the remaining question is how long she can pretend everything is the same. It becomes clear in this volume that it’s not possible, but the dynamic is still interesting (and leads to a lot of hilariously awkward situations). Now, though, there is still some tension surrounding the secret, mostly just about when the air will be cleared. But that would advance things, and this being a shoujo manga, that needs to be put off as long as possible.

Even at its darkest moments, the humor and levity and general niceness surrounding the characters is quite bracing. It’s like Kimi ni Todoke in that it’s impossible to read a volume and not be in a good mood afterwards. It’s definitely high-quality shoujo, and it’s one of my current favorites. It’s a must for anyone who loves shoujo.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Dengeki Daisy 4

Kyousuke Motomi – Viz – 2011 – 10+ volumes

Although the secret between Teru and Tasuku was revealed earlier than I’d like, I can’t say I’m not happy with the fallout in this volume. Tasuku is completely oblivious to what’s going on, but the reality of her situation hits Teru hard, and it makes others around her worried. Actually, I love that one of her current best friends was the jerk girl from the first volume. She’s still a jerk, but all the same, she’s a great friend to Teru, and the fact that she’s still a jerk is one of the numerous bits of endearing humor that make me adore this series.

Most of the conflict, the part I love the best, is that Teru is so completely thrown that she can’t write to Daisy. Throughout the entire series, through thick and thin, Daisy has been her one link, her one source of comfort through all the hard things. That she’s lost this friendship is utterly tragic, and to see her unsure what to write to sound normal is heartbreaking as much as it is romantic. That I’ve grown to love Teru so much in such a short time, that this affects me, is pretty fantastic. She’s torn as to whether she should admit what happened to Tasuku, and watching her debate that while trying to act “normal” for Daisy is just… hard. It’s hard, but it’s compelling reading.

This is followed by the inevitable “Tasuku is sick so Teru has to nurse him” chapter. Romantic stuff, especially after what just happened. My heart can’t take much more of this. I’m sure there are many who aren’t nearly as amused by this sort of sappy romance as I am, but seriously. Dengeki Daisy is good stuff for a shoujo junkie like me.

The rest of the volume… hmm. There’s some more discussion of Teru’s brother, a story that makes Tasuku afraid that Teru will stop liking him because of the terrible person he used to be and the terrible meaning behind the nickname “Daisy,” and… the creepy, creepy, AWESOME director of the school. That one’s mostly a gag chapter, but I think the director stays around and, in addition to being a sympathetic character who has many useful skills, continues to be a closet-hiding creep.

And, with all those stories, there are just countless sweet, funny moments between Tasuku and Teru. That’s really what this series does well. It can get kind of ridiculous with all the hacker stuff, and the plots about putting Teru in danger time and time again, but really, it’s all about these funny scenes between Teru and Tasuku. They always cheer each other up, bully each other, and just fit so well together. Not just in a romantic way, but as friends, too.

I love this series. Seriously.

Dengeki Daisy 3

Kyousuke Motomi – Viz – 2010 – 10+ volumes

So soon! Shame on you, Dengeki Daisy!

I’m spacing these reviews out a little bit, but as I said, I read four volumes straight through after picking up volume two. I couldn’t put it down. It’s just the right mix of sweet and funny for my taste. Kurosaki is just the right mix of antagonistic big brother and white knight, and Teru’s combined admiration of Daisy and her growing crush on Kurosaki coupled with her own antagonistic skills.

I love that this series seems to favor plots about poor Teru getting kidnapped and whatnot. Kurosaki wouldn’t have much to protect her from if it didn’t. In this book, there’s a story about a man after her brother’s program kidnapping Teru discreetly, right out from under Kurosaki’s nose, in order to search her cellphone for the program. He’s a relatively civilized kidnapper, but still. I loved Kurosaki’s frantic search for this man, and Teru’s interactions with him as well.

There’s another story at the beginning of the volume about Teru moving out of Kurosaki’s house. Again, it’s mostly a funny and very sweet story, full of character moments from the two. Lots of bellybutton flashing and bald chants, along with a few tears for the parting. What can I say, I’m an absolute sucker for this sort of thing. It’s really well-done here, too. Impossible not to like.

The third story is one about Teru being out with her friends. Sort of. Actually, that’s not what it’s about at all, but she does go to the beach with her friends. This story hinges on the song “Time After Time,” which, aside from being delightfully out of left field, is just about the perfect song choice. I love it when well-known, slightly nostalgic songs are used as plot devices (for instance, “Moon River” in Honey and Clover).

It’s just great. Wonderful stuff. It went from off my radar to one of my favorite current series literally overnight. This is an important volume too, though I am a little disappointed it… got to the part in this volume as quickly as it did. Still, the next volumes are no worse because of it.

Dengeki Daisy 2

Kyousuke Motomi – Viz – 2010 – 10+ volumes

Suddenly, I got in the mood to read another volume of this series. I loved the first, so I’m not sure why it took me so long to get back to it.

Now I do. I read all four of the released volumes one after another. I love it to pieces, and am thoroughly addicted.

The set-up is very simple, that destitute Teru, who has no family to speak of, depends on an e-mail pal named Daisy, recommended by her recently deceased brother. And of course Daisy is the janitor at her high school. And of course she falls in love with the janitor, and has to talk to Daisy about it.

Volume 2 is mostly about Teru and Kurosaki getting used to each other. Since Teru’s apartment was ransacked last volume, she has nobody to turn to except Daisy, and since Kurosaki knows this, well… you know. He’s gotta take her in. This isn’t nearly as creepy, or romantic, as it sounds. Kurosaki seems to enjoy tormenting Teru thoroughly, and tends to send her away when there’s any sort of crack in his bully mask.

It works because the two of them have such a playful friendship going. The way they torment each other is genuinely funny, and although Teru is still kind of a tragic heroine at this point, the terrible fact that she has nobody to rely on save for Kurosaki is downplayed quite a bit. She’s a very bright, cheery girl for how much trouble she causes. And because their face-to-face relationship is so funny and casual, it makes it that much better to see Kurosaki reacting to Teru’s sweet letters to Daisy, and sending his own tender replies.

And Teru does get into a lot of trouble that Kurosaki has to save her from. Her recently deceased brother was a genius software developer, and there’s a subplot in this volume about certain characters close to Teru trying to get ahold of software. Knife fights and car accidents ensue. For being a poor, cheery girl, Teru does attract all sorts of trouble. That’s the one thing I have a little trouble with in this manga. In order to make Kurosaki and Teru’s relationship work, there has to be a lot of dark plot elements that they can pull each other through. Computer hacking stuff is used quite a bit, but it begins to get unbelievable when such dangerous stuff keeps happening to Teru, and all the drama almost seems like it’s spoiling a perfectly good romantic comedy.

But it is necessary, and the fact that it takes the shape of computer hacking is very, very interesting. I do like that about it.

But mostly, it’s all about Teru and Kurosaki. I live for every single moment between those two. There’s another character introduced this volume, named Riko, who knew both Teru’s brother and Kurosaki from the past. She’s also pretty awesome. She’s both hilarious and offers very good advice for Teru.

One thing that I find interesting is that… almost without exception, I hate relationships that involve teachers or big age gaps in series like this. But it doesn’t bother me when it’s Teru and Kurosaki. Perhaps because Kurosaki is such a rough-and-tumble delinquent that seems little better than a student himself, or perhaps because his role as custodian isn’t really one of guidance, like a teacher? But mostly, it’s probably just that the chemistry between them is so good that it doesn’t really matter what their ages are. That’s just one of my quirks, though.

Sorry, this was mostly a collection of general thoughts after reading such a huge chunk of the series. I’ll comment more specifically on the plot next time. But it’s good, and truly addictive. And it only gets better with every volume. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of shoujo manga.

Dengeki Daisy 1

Kyousuke Motomi – Viz – 2010 – 8+ volumes

Wow! I liked Motomi’s other series, Beast Master, well enough, but I heard this was better. It certainly is. I’m sorry I’ve left it sit in my to-read stack for so long. It’s a very cheery series, with a tinge of romance and bittersweetness to it. It’s exactly my taste.

Teru, the main character, is alone in the world after the death of her older brother. On his deathbed, her brother told her that if she was ever in trouble, to call Daisy and she would be saved. Now, Daisy is Teru’s only friend, and though she’s never met Daisy, she does send Daisy daily e-mail updates about her life. And though she is teased a lot at school for being poor, and is lonely and sad at the loss of her brother and parents, she puts up with it because Daisy will be there for her if she really needs it.

Basically, the chapters consist of Teru getting into some bad situations and either directly asking Daisy for help, or having Daisy help without her realizing it. She does get herself into some awful messes, and puts up with a lot of sad stuff (mostly being horribly alone), but e-mailing Daisy really does help her put on a happy face and spread smiles wherever she goes. I am an absolute sucker for this kind of upbeat storytelling, and I love people like Teru, the eternal optimist.

The funnier side of the story is that Teru quickly becomes an unwilling servant to Kurosaki, the school janitor. Kurosaki teases her and puts her strong will to the test by making her do all his chores for him. But, of course, through all the bullying and meanness, Kurosaki is secretly Daisy, and secretly watches over Teru. He doesn’t tell her this, since Teru doesn’t like him, but he’s glad he can be there for her, even as a jerk. For some reason.

By the end of the volume, it’s clear that Teru sees nobody in her life but Daisy, and Kurosaki has developed feelings for her (less creepy than it sounds, since Kurosaki was the same age as her brother… I figure he’s probably about 20 or so?).

Happy, sad, a little action-packed, but guaranteed to make me smile, at least. I loved this first volume, and I’m looking forward to seeing where things go from here.


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