We’ve talked about how similar 4-koma comics are to each other many times. They are usually slice of life, perhaps at a school, in a club, a bunch of friends, all hangingoutandbeingsilly. Life, you know.
Well, Kanamemo isn’t like that. It has a rather depressing set up, as it happens. Kana’s parents had passed away when she was young and she was living with her grandmother until she also passed away, leaving Kana alone. So alone, in fact, that not a single adult, government agency or busybody neighbor even notices that she’s got to go somewhere. As the movers begin to take her grandmother’s items, it struck me as odd that whoever was in charge of the funeral thought to get the old lady’s personal items cleaned up, but somehow forgot to find somewhere to put her *granddaughter.*
When Kana panics and runs off with only a rucksack, she finds, after much travail, a live-in position with a newspaper delivery office populated by 4 adults, an elementary school girl for an office chief and I started to realize that this was going to be a problematic series for me. Specifically – there are too many handwaves.
At the Fanfic Revolution, we had a few rules for writers. One of them, coined by Adam Jones, was the “one handwave” rule. Every author gets one “handwave” – one thing that can just be passed off ’cause. If you are writing a story in which aliens land in your house, then that is the handwave. Everything after that ought to be internally consistent with that and everyone’s actions ought to make sense given their personalities. If people can fly – fine. But if people can fly, then suddenly some of them also have telepathy and, oh, didn’t I mention the Morlocks? Well, there are Morlocks. ….No.
Kana’s grandmother dying and her being completely, utterly forgotten and forlorn was the one handwave. Then she finds a live-in position at Fuushin Newspaper. Okay. Not *quite* a handwave. Acceptable.
The other staff members are a lesbian couple, a drunken pervert, a 3rd year ronin. Acceptable. Stupid, but acceptable. Not a handwave as such.
The office chief is an elementary school girl. No.
But then, above and beyond all that, I am being asked to believe that Kana, who I must remind myself is only 13, is also an idiot. And that was it. When she failed to ride a bicycle – failed to even let go when she repeatedly fell(!) – I developed a deep dislike for her. She’s hopeless, I thought, throw her in the river in a box and have done with it.
And then there’s the pervert. She is the Japanese male audience, wrapped in a sexy woman suit. She behaves the way the viewers would want to, if they were dressed in a sexy woman suit and had any cojones at all. Which is the final handwave. When I am reading a manga, I can skip over things that bore, irritate or annoy me – I can make distasteful scenes last microseconds. To have to sit and linger lasciviously on every violation perpetrated by Haruka on the underage characters makes me stabby.
By the second episode the depressing premise is pushed into the position of “tool used to provide Kana with a means of narration,” we can move on. Setting aside the issue of Haruka, let’s turn to Yume and Yuuki, the resident lesbians.
They are, in fact, a lesbian couple. No one will say that – no one will even imply it in conversation, but they are. The first time we see them, they are giving each other a goodbye kiss and while it is not lasciviously lingered upon, it cannot be denied or passed off as anything else. They continue on in this vein, as the provider of silly, eminently undeniable “they are a couple” humor. Yume is cheerful, energetic and studying to be a pastry chef, Yuuki is clingy and passive-aggressive, so clearly, she’s a lesbian. They are quite cute together.
Saki, the aforementioned elementary school office chief is wise and competent beyond her years. Basically she’s a 40 year old woman in a loli-bait body. I don’t pretend to get why the hell that is, but she’s hardly the first such and will hardly be the last.
And Hinata is the only character that seems in any way realistic. A student who has failed the university exam three times, she is working and, one hopes, studying. She is the other cipher for the viewing audience – the Dr. Jekyll to Haruka’s Hyde.
It’s not a godawful tear-my-eyes-out series, but it makes me depressed. It’s not a fun 4-koma, it’s a miserable drudgery of a 4-koma inside a decent 4-koma suit. I’d like to watch the suit, without the creature inside it, plskthx.
Art – 4 to me, but rather typical for 4-koma, so 6
Story – 4 to me, 7 to people who like that kind of thing or can not see the obvious
Characters – same as above
Yuri – 8
Service – 7
Overall – 5 to me, maybe to climb higher if it gets rid of that thing inside it.
I think there are some cute elements. They just happen to not be the things that the Japanese audience thinks are cute elements.