I’m taking the next few days off writing for Okazu – nothing bad, promise. ^_^ Luckily we have a few Guest Reviewers who have stepped in to give me a much-needed break. Today we have a new Guest Reviewer- Ayra – with a look at Ichiroh!, Volume 4. Let’s give Ayra a warm welcome! Yaaayy!!!
Nanako and Akane are modern day ronin: Students who failed to enter university after high school, and are struggling for a second chance during the following year. The first three volumes of Ichiroh! consisted of various hijinks as Nanako and crew go through that year, meeting new people, facing minor issues and dealing with various situations with comedic results. In Ichiroh! Volume 4, absolutely nothing happens. But who ever said that ‘nothing’ cannot be amusing?
The story of volume 4 revolves around a ‘study’ trip to Okinawa, with only a few minor subplots. A reader could easily skip volume 4 and miss absolutely nothing storyline-wise: No new characters are introduced, and no events change the status-quo.
Ichiroh! volume 4 is both the lowpoint and highpoint of the series. It is the volume with the most character development, the best jokes, the most cringe-worthy moments and with fewest events actually happening.
However, there’s been quite a few changes regarding the content of the strips themselves:
The ‘harem’ feelings from volume 2 and 3 are pretty much gone. While Shino is still insanely obsessive of Nanako (same for Nanako’s brother although he only appears in a few bonus pages in the end), and Akane is still extremely friendly to Nanako (but, then, she is to nearly everyone), the other characters don’t show any special interest in her anymore. Kozue actually finds herself falling for Akane more and more, instead, and Mai is more interested in seeing her fantasies rather than taking part in them.
The story is less Nanako-centric. While she’s still obviously the main character, the other characters interact with each other far more often than they did in previous chapters. For example, Shino talks with Anko, Akane and Mai more than previously and actually develops a personality that SLIGHTLY goes beyond pure obsession for Nanako. There’s also an hilarious subplot that revolves around Mayura taking Nanako’s miko job at the shrine and ‘helping’ children do their homeworks, plus a fair amount of strips where Nanako isn’t present at all (Unlike the previous 3 volumes which had very, very few strips without Nanako being present).
The characters are more ‘aware’ than they used to be. While that’s been increasingly so as the volumes went by, in volume 4 the characters are very much aware of both their own failings and of other characters’ behavior. For example, Nanako, Akane and Anko are all extremely aware of Shino’s obsession and often see through the reasons behind her plans. The characters in this volume feel slightly more intelligent, more realistic and deeper than in the previous ones (slightly being the keyword here).
The fanservice amount has been increased overall, drastically so in the first 25% of the volume. There’s a good amount of color pages at the beginning, and they mostly consist of Akane choosing a swimsuit, with a few full-page display showing her in said swimsuit. Since the majority of the volume consists of a summer vacation in Okinawa, there’s a LOT of swimsuits and flesh around, but, fortunately, that’s rarely the focus of the strips – as opposed to those early pages. You also have the requisite maid pages near the end, of course.
Generally-speaking, the first 25% of the volume is fanservice-focused. The last 25% felt a bit flat overall, except for a few specific pages that were actually quite good. The middle 50% were in my opinion the best pages out of all the Ichiroh! volumes thus far. In particular, Mayura “teaching” are some of the funniest pages I’ve ever read in any 4-koma comic.
If you liked the previous Ichiroh! volumes, by all means buy volume 4: Although there’s some very definitive low points in the volume, I personally feel that this is overall the best volume out of the four so far. If you were kind of ‘meh’ regarding the first three volumes, there’s certainly chance you’d enjoy the excellent middle portion of the story, although you might want to skip the first part. If you disliked the first few volumes, definitively skip this volume; while there’s been some changes, they are very unlikely to change your opinion.
As far as translated 4-koma comics go, Ichiroh! is certainly decent – one of the better ones in my opinion, especially volume 4. While it likely won’t set your world on fire, it’s definitively an enjoyable and a quite funny read. The final volume, volume 5, comes out in July, and for one I’m certainly looking forward to it.
Note: While it would be possible to read volume 4 without having read any of the first three volumes, I’d still recommend to read at least the first volume first so that the setup makes more sense (sort of). Also, do keep in mind that Ichiroh! is pretty much only comedy: There’s absolutely no drama, no touching moments and no action sequences of any kind.
Art – 8 (By 4-koma standards. Definitively one of the better-looking 4-koma, but do keep in mind that it’s still a 4-koma comic).
Story – 3
Characters – 7
Yuri – 5 (Shino is obsessive about Nanako, Kozue is definitively falling for Akane and there’s a maybe for Akane with Nanako, but it’s unfortunately extremely unlikely that any of this will ever lead anywhere.)
Service – 6 (Higher early in the volume, lower afterward)
‘Unbiased’ Overall – 7
Own Biased Overall – 8 (Varies from 5 to 9 depending on the section)
Erica here: Thank you very kindly Ayra. I am among those who were not particularly blown away by the first three volumes, so this review saved me having to get the fourth at all! ^_^
Since I am requesting and receiving a lot more Guest Reviews these days, let me relink to the Okazu Guest Review Guidelines. If you’d like to write a Guest Review for Okazu, you must read and follow these. I’d hate to think that you went to the trouble of writing a review, only to find that I had the book and planned on writing about it or that I don’t accept reviews of scanlations or something else. ^_^ Thank you in advance for your consideration and your assistance!