Erica is on vacation this week. Please excuse her as she sets aside the important task of reviewing anime and manga to enjoy time with friends and roadside dinosaurs. Today we have guest reviewer Sean Gaffney to entertain and beguile us and make yet another series sound much better than it probably is. ^_^
Yuri is a girl who is utterly unlucky at love. She’s had 13 boyfriends, and been dumped by all of them. What’s worse, it’s always for the same reason – she gets too ‘heavy’ for them, too deeply involved and makes them want to back off. What’s a girl desperate to show her love to do?
Sounds like a typical shoujo manga, right? You’re expecting a bad boy to come along? Yup, he’s there. What about the misunderstood straight-man student council president with a crush? Present and correct. Tragic pasts up the wazoo? You have NO idea.
But it’s OK. Because Gatcha Gacha also has Motoko. Motoko is long-haired, long-limbed, and gorgeous, and many people think she has ‘Western’ looks. She’s the perfect pretty girl… till you get to know her. She’s grumpy, foul-mouthed, gets into fights constantly, and her bag is filled with the sorts of things only boys would like. There was a poll in Melody, the magazine that ran this in Japan, and Motoko was easily the most popular character, defeating the supposed heroine.
In case you’re wondering why this is an Okazu review, Motoko also likes looking at pretty girls. And seems to have no interest in guys. Now, for several volumes, that’s all there was, and I didn’t particularly regard it as a yuri series mostly as Motoko herself insisted she wasn’t a lesbian.
In later volumes, thought, we get a bit more to it. One part is a major spoiler, so I can’t get into it in this review. However, the other is a character introduced towards the end who knew Motoko in middle school. She definitely is far more yuri, and obsesses about Motoko as she seees them as being similar. As time goes on, though, she realizes that she’s just a cynic, while Motoko is an optimist who’s merely been crushed by events.
There’s nothing particularly original about Gatcha Gacha. But there’s likeable, interesting characters, a nice fast pace, and lots of amusing comedy and gripping drama. And even though it’s not original, several of the plot twists are layered and keep you guessing. The 7th volume, out from Tokyopop, ends with Yuri wondering just how important is her ‘BFF’ Motoko to her, and whether her friendship might actually be verging on a crush. And the 8th volume is the last, wrapping everything up.
Unfortunately, Tokyopop is currently going through difficulties, and Gatcha Gacha was never a very big seller. It’s currently on hiatus, with the final volume unscheduled. Despite that, I still recommend the series to all fans of shoujo manga, especially ones that feature actual strong women, which this title does.
Art – 6. Can get overly busy at times, especially during the action sequences, but is still well done, and makes all 4 protagonists very distinct.
Story – 7. It’s shoujo, but works its twists in well, so that even though the twist is obvious in hindsight, it can still keep you guessing.
Characters – 9. The main reason to read the manga, really. Even the ‘villains’ are fun and have depth.
Yuri: 3. Not really all that much canonically, but there’s some tease, and Motoko certainly has an eye for cute girls.
Service – 2. Motoko peeking at girl’s butts is the closest you’ll get, and it’s nowhere near as blatant as, say, Chikaru in Strawberry Panic.
Overall – 7. An excellent underrated Tokyopop series, and I hope they can get the final volume out some day.