Kakifly – Yen Press – 2011 – 4+ volumes
On one hand, I’d heard that this series was pretty cute and funny, and I’d been wanting to try it out. I know the anime is particularly popular, and I thought a story about a girl band might be a lot of fun. On the other hand, me and 4-koma manga don’t get along that well. The only series that’s overcome this barrier for me was Heartbroken Angels.
Unfortunately, K-ON has many of the traits that I dislike in 4-panel manga. Mainly that the jokes are a bit too weak for me to enjoy. For instance, jokes in K-ON include punchlines about two girls saying that they’re disheveled hair twins, but are really nothing alike at all. A girl clearly cancelling her plans on the phone, then claiming that she’s not busy at all. One of the characters getting confused about the explanation behind an expensive guitar. One girl can’t stop smiling because her face is frozen in fear.
There is a bit of a plot going on… the strips are grouped by story, which are things like… monsoon season, post-graduation plans, air conditioning in the club room, Valentine’s Day… actually, most of those are super-common plot devices, and not all that interesting. Especially with the weak jokes. The five girls in the band are mostly just character types that exist to set up the jokes, so you have the nice rich girl, the hyper empty-headed girl, the shy sensible girl, the perky underclassman, a perverted advisor, et cetera.
The part I thought I was going to like, that the characters formed an all-girl rock band, was downplayed quite a bit. They talk about being in club a lot, and occasionally they discuss their instruments, but they only actually perform twice. And even then, it’s mostly just for one panel in the 4-panel strip.
I did like the story in the back of the volume. Not only does it start out with a performance/practice, but it goes into a little more detail in the lives of the girls, and was pretty cute about it, too. It was a regularly-paneled story, not a 4-koma, so the punchlines weren’t necessary. I liked it a lot better that way, but on the other hand, it also sort of defeats the purpose of the format.
This was a review copy provided by Yen Press.
It’s just not my flavor. I do like the book design (the 120-page book feels like just about the right amount of strips for this kind of story), and I like the color pages a lot. I can see how some might enjoy the cute, low-impact jokes and the banter between the girls (who are clearly really good friends, I’ll give them that), but it’s not for me. One day, I will find a 4-panel strip that is.