There are *so* many ways Morita-san ha Mukuchi (森田さんは無口) could have been annoying. But it isn’t annoying. Not at all. It’s very funny and very enjoyable.
Morita Mayu is, compared with other people, more silent. It’s not that she can’t talk, or that she doesn’t want to talk, it’s just that she thinks before she speaks – she thinks a lot before she speaks and sometimes misses the chance altogether. Or the mood isn’t right, or her timing is off. Honestly, she’d like to speak more, it just never seems to work out.
At home, her mother tries to coach Mayu, but between Mom yelling at Dad or them being really lovey-dovey at each other, Mayu feels the mood is rarely conducive to her saying anything.
Despite her silence, Mayu is not at all ostracized by the kids at school. Once the girls get used to it, they tell her all their secrets because they know she won’t tell anyone. They trust Mayu and like her and she likes them back. There’s one or two girls that find her a little odd at first, but when they realize she’s really nice, and it’s just that she isn’t great at jumping in and talking, they are fine.
Yuri is in dribs and drabs throughout the book. At first, there’s a girl who is a little scared of Mayu, but they quickly become friendly enough to develop a pleasant skinship – mostly playing with each other’s hair. Another girl stalks Mayu throughout the book, and although we never learn her name, when she overhears one of the other girls saying that she “likes” Mayu, she comes down with a case of raging jealousy. And lastly, towards the end of the book, Mayu overhears a confession from one girl to the class president in the Library. The class president thinks she and Mayu are actually very similar – they both hate mess and are always picking stray hairs off people’s school uniforms and retacking falling posters up. She assures Mayu that this thing is pretty common for her, she’s used to dealing with it. Smiling, because she *knows* Mayu isn’t going to say anything, she asks Mayu to not tell anyone for the other girl’s sake. :-)
This manga is a typical 4-koma with a few gags repeated over and over, but it never gets tedious. It never cloys, never irks. And, from time to time, it’s absolutely laugh out loud hysterical. In mostly every way, Mayu is perfectly normal. She likes sweets, she laughs (silently) and she enjoys time with friends. Other than the fact that she rarely speaks, she’s just another girl. So, the laugh out loud moments are less about her silence and more about just something silly. For instance… (Click on the picture below for the full size image)
Do not worry about what is being said in these panels, they don’t appreciably add to to gag. Just notice that the two girls in the foreground are laughing already, *before* we see the gag. Mayu is the girl with dark hair. This strip made me giggle like a child for a good ten minutes.
*This* is the kind of thing that made Morita-san ha Mukuchi work for me. It’s a good example of a 4-koma that is just the right blend of everyday minutiae and silly weirdness. Sure, there’s basically one gag per character, but the story doesn’t ask ridiculous amounts of handwave allowance from us. One handwave and everything else just fits in place neatly.
Art – 6
Story – 6
Characters – 8, closing in on 9 by the end
Yuri – 4
Service – 1
Overall – 8
If Mayu had been ostracized, if she had been full of self-loathing, if the boys and girls in school had been creepy about it, it could have been a really bad manga. Instead, it was a totally fun read and a good example of a 4-koma that makes the format work.