Happy Mania 11
December 2, 2004
I was gonna hold off on this series until I reread the entire thing after the last volume came out (which was 11). I’ll admit that I don’t really know who to recommend Happy Mania to in general, because it’s not a great series. It really improves around volume five though, and it’s been getting better and better each volume. This will sort of be a fond retrospect looking back at the series, picking out the good parts, about volume 11, and about the resolution, so beware of spoilers, please.
In other words, stop reading if you don’t want the end of Happy Mania spoiled for you. Seriously, this is your last chance.
I think I was pretty happy with 11 overall. It sort of brought the themes of marriage and happiness full circle for all the characters, really. Fuku and Hideki finally settle down and have a kid (though it kind of sounded like they settled down because Hiromi got pregnant, which is weird but fitting somehow). Kayoko realizes after she gets chased by a knife-weilding maniac that she should stick with Takahashi and it winds up making her happy. Takahashi resolves his marriage with Taka with a divorce. I sort of liked the element of a loveless marriage in the series, I like the way it built up to the divorce, and I loved the character of Taka (but maybe not Taka herself), but the fact she finally just gave up easily and the marriage ended with an agreement from her and a slap across the face… hm. Not so good. Fuku moving away was good because Kayoko then had no one. And ending with Kayoko’s marriage seemed appropriate, as did her final comment about just wanting love that gave her butterflies. I was a bit sad that it didn’t end with the happiness that Kayoko had been seeking… but I realized in a way that it did, and that the fact that Shigeta was thinking of boyfriends even on her wedding day just seemed appropriate. She had found the happiness she had been seeking, and after all, who doesn’t have doubts about getting married?
Kayoko I didn’t like in general, she’s the kind of person I hate in real life, and I know she exists. But I still like the series because I think you’re supposed to hate Kayoko, to really hate her and everything she does, and to realize she doesn’t really have any redeeming characteristics. I think the point of the series was to see a character like that develop through trial and error. Sometimes it seemed like she learned, particularly by the middle of the series, and definitely at the end, but she never stopped being herself, and Hiromi never stopped being there for her, no matter what happened. I loved that. The way the series built up and worked its way slowly from a crush and casual dating to more serious, obsessed dating and estranged relationships, to serious relationships, to eventually marriage and adulthood, was wonderful. The characters were dynamic, even Shigeta like I mentioned earlier. And the fact that it stuck to Hiromi, Hideki, Takahashi, and Shigeta through the entire series was also very good. The addition of Taka in the middle was also welcome. To see the characters grow and develop along the plot, after reading a new volume and putting it as a piece with the others, was wonderful. The whole “Happy Mania” theme of girls seeking happiness and not being happy when they get it I think rings true for most people. The climax of the series comes at a great moment when Hiromi sits down and has a conversation about how both she and Shigeta wrecked their relationships with the guys they were meant to be with because the search was more fun. I’m not saying that it was a life-altering scene or anything, but it does sometimes make you re-evaluate and think about whether or not you really are happy with your life, because maybe you are and you don’t realize it.
I’m willing to admit that Moyoko Anno’s art is not great. I’m also willing to admit that Shigeta and even Takahashi are two of the most annoying characters ever made. And I’ll go so far as to say that it’s no good to read volumes and consider them individually, because the stories in the individual volumes are more often than not nerve-wrackig and cumbersome. But after reading it all, I really think I view this series as a somewhat mature classic for an acquired taste. It’s good, and it overcomes the fact that it is extremely flawed.
God, I love Happy Mania. It was worth the more than the $110 I paid for it over the past year and a half.