Karakuri Odette 4

August 31, 2011

Julietta Suzuki – Tokyopop – 2010 – 6 volumes

I won’t lie. I read this entire series in one sitting. I stopped writing reviews between the volumes after the first three. But it was that addictive. Odette makes for a great main character, and it’s fun to see her grow and catalog the changes around her.

In this volume, Odette gets a new friend named Shirayuki. Shirayuki is a rich young lady who grew up in seclusion, and doesn’t interact with the outside world very well. This problem is only made worse by the fact that she can “feel” what people are thinking by touching them, so she gets angry when people say nice things to her face and think different things. But her power doesn’t work on Odette, since Odette is a robot. She gets angry at first when she can tell Odette is lying (mainly just to cover up the fact she’s a robot), but when she learns the truth from Professor Yoshizawa, she decides she wants to be closer to Odette.

So, Shirayuki enters school. She has some of the same problems as Odette fitting in. Since she’s grown up apart from society, she sticks out like a sore thumb, and doesn’t know how to talk to people. I loved the parallels to Odette’s story, and how Shirayuki and Odette were the same, but different. There’s a story about how Shirayuki was surprised by how many friends Odette had at school, and how she had the idea that she and Odette would be all each other had. There’s another story about how Shirayuki has to do things for and by herself, or they don’t mean anything. There’s another story where both Odette and Shirayuki learn a lesson about being lonely when they go to the lively home of a classmate (complete with ugly dog) and then to their respective empty houses.

It’s rare to see a shoujo story emphasize friendship as much as this. The interaction between Shirayuki and Odette is quite touching, and I loved that aspects of any normal life could be highlighted and made interesting again in stories about both girls. It’s Suzuki’s gift as a storyteller that she can get the most out of her characters like this.

But having said that, I read shoujo manga for things like the Asao chapter here. Odette gets a romantic rival, and the two spend the chapter competing to see who can get Asao to eat their cooking. While Asao’s preferences are never stated outright, he does seem to be quite friendly towards Odette.

Actually, the relationship between Asao and Odette reminds me a lot of the relationship between Ponta and Mirai from Guru Guru Pon-chan, where Mirai falls in love anyway even though he knows he shouldn’t. Except Asao hasn’t fallen in love, and Karakuri Odette isn’t really a romance. And in Guru Guru Pon-chan, it’s creepy even though the story goes all out to make that not the case. But it’s still a fine manga.

I love Asao as a character, though. That Odette’s romantic interest is a punk-ish kid is amusing to me. His infrequent interaction with Professor Yoshizawa (usually only when Odette breaks at school and Asao has to take her home) is also always funny, and his ambiguous feelings for Odette are all kinds of adorable. The scene where he throws Odette at the Professor, crushing the Professor’s model plane, and then makes the Professor sign a paper that says Odette will never bother him at school again, is one of my favorites in the series. Asao is a good balance of romance and humor, and I’m a sucker for that.

Two volumes left! Both of them are good ones.

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