It’s always a pleasure to find a new series to read. It’s especially a pleasure when both my wife and I find something in common to enjoy. So, when it turned out that the author of one of her pretty demon boy series turned out to also be doing a series about a robot girl, we agreed to try it.
Karakuri Odette by Suzuki Julietta, is indeed about a robot girl, Odette. (That’s Odette looking decidedly Utena-esque on the left of the cover.) Her guardian and inventor, Professor Yoshizawa, created her in the image of a high school girl and Odette is taking her role very seriously. In the beginning of the series, when she realizes that there are differences between her and the girls she saw going to school, she tells the Professor that she would also like to go to school. So, she does. And little by little, she closes the gap between her and the human girls around her.
Odette’s a good kid. She’s thoughtful and kind and wants to be a good human, so she throws herself into things like school and making friends and learning to eat with zeal, surprising, but not displeasing, the Professor. When a second robot, Chris, shows up to kill the Professor, Odette befriends him and ultimately, he’s adopted into the Yoshizawa household.
Crises in Odette can be just about *anything.* From wanting to understand “flavor,” to android assassins, to staying over a friend’s house for the night – the chapters run the gamut from sweet to freakish with nary a breath between.
In Volume 4, Odette is sent to the house of spoiled, creepy Ringosaka Shirayuki. And true to her name, Odette plays the prince to this Snow White, waking her from a lifetime sleep of loneliness and unhappiness. The entire volume follows Shirayuki as she is awakened by her prince (sadly not with a kiss) and as she changes her whole life to be closer to Odette. It’s not quite Yuri, but it’s sort of on the edgier side of akogare and friendship. Shirayuki has to learn to share Odette and play well with others. The end of the volume sees the two of them hand in hand as they walk off to face tomorrow.
There’s really nothing to dislike in Karakuri Odette. The character is charming in her sincerity; her relationship to the Professor never fails to make me smile. “Professor! I want to go to school.” “Whah? Okay.” “Professor! I want to be able to eat.” “Why? All right.” “Professor! I want a cell phone.” “No.” His reactions are very much those of a parent of a teenaged girl. ^_^
The human drama is spliced into silly android drama, so that any chapter might be about “what is love” or escaping from people trying to kidnap Chris, by shopping for sneakers. Because it is a “high-school romance” shoujo story, there are several rivals for Odette’s affection. Yukimura, the first-year boy who has no idea she’s a robot, Chris the other robot, who does, and Shirayuki, who also does. And then there’s Odette’s sempai Asao. He’s a “bad,” but sensitive type, who is blunt with her about important things, but is very protective of her. One of the best things about the story is that there isn’t that “He’s mean to me because he loves me” dynamic that rules so much of shoujo manga.
Art – 8
Story – 7
Characters – 8
Yuri – 2
Service – 1
Overall – 7
So, while mild on the Yuri side, I have to say that I’m quite enjoying having a new shoujo manga series to follow (the first one since Marimite!) and, as an added bonus, I can share it with the wife. ^_^