Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon by COOLKyoushinja

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A friend of mine started watching this anime, so I thought I’d check out the manga.  She described it this way, “O.M.G. It is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. It’s a semi-lesbian harem anime about a dragon who falls in love with an office worker and decides to become her maid.”

Yep, that’s pretty much it.

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I’m discovering something about myself.  As you know, gentle readers, I often have trouble with comedy manga.  I bounced out of two really popular manga because of humor: Assassination Classroom and One-Punch Man.

But, here’s the thing, I decided to try watching One-Punch Man to see if I had more tolerance for humor/parody when it’s animated (as opposed to static).  Turns out?  I do.  In fact, I’m on episode 10 out of 12 already and quite enjoying it–and I could barely get through volume one of the manga!

I think that’s going to be the same for Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid.

I read the first five chapters of the manga and… well, let’s just say I’m not surprised to discover that COOLKyoushinja-sensei has also written a number of ecchi titles, since Tooru (our dragon maid) ends up stripped naked in public randomly, and there’s at least one cup size joke (D for Dragon!)

There are a LOT of boob wiggles both in the anime and the manga.

Apparently, COOLKyoushinja-sensei is most famous for something called I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying/Danna ga Nani o Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken and Komori-san Can’t Decline / Komori-san wa Kotowarenai (both of which also have anime.) So, if you decide you really, really like his work, there’s a lot more to choose from.

Even though I’m poo-pooing all the boob wiggle, I’m absolutely willing to try watching this.  I mean, why not? After I finish the next couple episodes of One-Punch Man, I’ve got nothing in my queue, especially since I’m not willing to try season 2 of Attack on Titan, given how much I ended up LOATHING the manga.

Humor works much better for me when it’s moving by me quickly, I think.  I’m too judge-y when I have time to ponder and consider, alas.

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One-Punch Man by Yusuke Murata (One)

Since all the cool kids were doing it, I thought I’d finally get around to checking out One-Punch Man.

I read the first volume and I sort of feel like my review could be summed up by this (web) comic strip from Questionable Content: “I can’t tell if it’s a brilliant deconstruction of shounen anime tropes or just garbage.”

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Yeah, it’s pretty brilliant parody.  I mean, I guess.  I don’t fail to see the humor in a guy who “over trained” and can now defeat all his enemies with one punch. I kind of even adore that he got into hero-ing for “fun,” (although the author seems to change his mind about this backstory and there is, at least, some sense that Saitama has a well-honed sense of justice that go him into hero-ing even earlier.)

But, will the joke sustain me?

Eh, I’m not sure.

This is where I get into arguments with people who try to tell me that the best comic book superhero movie of all time was “The Incredibles.”  Yes, it’s a good movie.  But, to say that “The Incredibles,” which is intended as a send-up, a parody,  is the best superhero movie  is to actually discount what I LIKE about superheroes, and to only enjoy the ways in which people make fun of superhero tropes.

I feel very similarly about shounen.

I know it’s cheesy. I know it’s melodramatic.  I know that so many of the fights are unrealistic and drawn out and could just be over if someone would just Do The Thing (or if the villains weren’t quite so OP, too.)

But, okay, one of my favorite themes is good conquering evil–and part of that story is always how HARD good has to fight to win.

I dunno.  Maybe I wasn’t in the right mood for this.  Probably it’s better consumed as an anime, even though it was the web comic that went viral.

The robot is cute, though. I now at least understand the copious amounts of fan art of him. And I do kind of love this art style when it crops up:

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So, I don’t know. I guess I’m going to go against the grain here and say, “whatever.” Have fun with it, kids. I’ll just enjoy your fan art instead of canon, k?

Kuma Miko / Girl Meets Bear – vols. 1 & 2 – by Yoshimoto Masume

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Comedy is a hard sell for me, but I found myself paging through Kuma Miko at Shoreview the other day. I know next to nothing about Shinto shrine maidens (miko) and I’m endlessly fascinated by other religions, so I thought I might as well take this one home and give it a try.

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I find it interesting that at some point this got translated to Girl Meets Bearsince even with my limited Japanese I know this says “Bear Shrine Maiden.” Possibly, though it’s not obvious to me by looking at the Mangahere site, that “Girl Meets Bear” is actually the title of the first chapter.

The back cover flap reads: “In the deep mountainous regions of the Touhouku area, the comedic story of the miko of bears, 14-year-old Machi, and her childhood friend, the talking bear, Natsu, takes place as Machi struggles to qualify for city-life with Natsu’s assistance.”

What’s important to note is that, while Machi really, really wants to go to high school in the city, the story actually never gets her there (at least by the ending of volume 2, BakaUpdates seems to think it’s on volume 7 in Japan and still on-going.)

Given the set-up, I initially thought we were going to leave shrine life and the humor would be all about a fish-out-water/country bumpkin lost in the big city (with a bear companion.)  But, no.  The joke is that Natsu tells Machi that she COULD go to the city, but she has to pass a series of tests to prove that she’s prepared… so we end up with jokes about watermelons (a homonym for the JR rail pass, apparently,) that go so far over my head that I’m thinking I should be studying this book myself, before I consider heading to Japan.  I almost wonder if some of the native appeal of this manga is that a lot of people can relate to how baffling life in the big city is.  As an American, unfortunately, the jokes are mostly just baffling.

Even though it’s comedic, you get a sense of life in the deep recesses of rural Japan.  We find out, for instance, that there might be electricity in a mountain village, but not gas.  There’s also another scene where the town councilman finds out that the old people in the town are expecting a ritual, but no one is exactly sure what it’s supposed to be.

Also, it’s just pretty:

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Wikipedia tells me that there was an anime of Kumamiko (as one word) that aired from April to June of 2016.  The only place I can find to watch it is a fan site, KissAnime. However, there also appears to be a controversy around the ending episode.

I’m not sure I’m going to actively pursue this manga, but I would probably pick up the third volume if it showed up at the library.  If for no other reason that I’m fascinated by the in-jokes I won’t get and the details of life we see.

Diabolic Garden by Ichigo Shiraki

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Diabolic Garden is pretty much everything I would NEVER chose to read on my own.

But, once again, I decided to press the “Surprise Me” button on MangaPanda to see what it might find for me.  When this popped up, I thought, ‘No way!’

The art style was a big turn off and it had that label ‘comedy’ which is my least favorite.  I actually moved my cursor to hover over the button again, thinking I’d just try again,  but then I noticed that the manga looked to be complete at 10 chapters, so I thought ‘I can read ten chapters in one sitting, so why not?”

What a phenomenally bad idea.

Plus, this is another one of those manga that people just stopped scanlating. MyAnimeList.net tells me that what I have is about half the completed story.

In another weird turn of events, all the information I could find about this manga is in French.  According to the French Wikipedia (which Google helpfully translated for me): “The French version is published by Ki-oon in three volumes released between November 2010 and May 2011.”

So, you know how we’re always saying so-and-so is ‘big in Japan’?  Well, apparently, in Japan, Ichigo Shiraki is saying, “I’m big in France, you know.”

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The manga starts with a fake-out.

The first few pages looks like we’re starting middle-battle in some fantasy fairy land, but it turns out that what we’re reading is a manga being presented to an editor of Monthly Gothic Fantasy by a high schooler/wannabe mangaka named Makimura Kotone.  The editor tells Makimura that she needs some fresh ideas.  Her stories are getting repetitive.

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I tend to actually really enjoy manga about mangaka.  I read all 21 volumes of Bakuman and watched the entire first season of Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-Kun (which is also a manga that you can read here: http://www.mangahere.co/manga/gekkan_shoujo_nozaki_kun/.) I also really loved the anime of Barakamon, even though that one is about a professional calligrapher, not a mangaka, per se.  For reasons, I tend to find the writing/artistic life–particularly struggles within the industry–endlessly fascinating.

Thus, at this point, I thought ‘oh, okay, maybe this won’t be so bad.’

While wandering around town, trying to think up ideas for her gothic fantasy manga, Makimura stumbles across a spooky-looking teashop.

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Yes, they sell TEA, not books….

Here, Makimura meets the mysterious Tsukasa, his clown-like demon doll assistant Kanon, and uncovers the secret garden of Hell plants.  For reasons of plot, Makimura breaks into the garden uninvited and accidentally ingests some Hell-devil fruit in the garden, which she mistakes for a strawberry (I see what you did there with your name, Shiraki-sensei!)  The side-effect of this devil fruit is that Makimura now exudes the odor of the very tastiest in demon food, which of course makes her deeply attractive to them.

This is actually kind of bonus for Tsukasa, whom Makimura instantly crushed out on, but who previously had zero interest in her.  Turns out the tea shop isn’t exactly popular among humans, given that most of Tsukasa’s concoctions taste like crap to us, and so he makes his living as a demon hunter.

All those books you see? They’re actually sealed demons.

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Um, yeah, that’s not vaguely horrifying at all, why do you ask?

The next several chapters involve ways in which Makimura gets herself into trouble with various demons and Tsukasa gets her out.  At the end of chapter five, we meet up with the local boss demon and his mouse yokai assistant, Geschtalt.

Geschtalt is kind of a classic bumbling demon assistant, who generally doesn’t have a bad heart, except for the fact that he’s working for the bad guys, you know? Plus, he turns into an adorably fat little mouse. What’s not to love?

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Weirdly, this guy was one of my favorites. I blame Stockholm Syndrome at this point.

Turns out that it was good that I didn’t invest a lot of my energy into Makimura’s character because for the next four chapters, she completely disappears.  Her storyline gets entirely dropped and instead we follow Tsukasa’s younger sister as she, the mouse, and the clown doll demon attempt to infiltrate a Goth rock band that’s been infested by a demon, who has been leeching life-energy from the bands’ followers.  Luckily, the Goth band is holding a contest for a fan-band opening act, and it just so happens that Tsukasa’s younger sister is an expert vocalist who specializes in Goth glam music.

The series ends just as our heroes get on stage to do their audition piece to hopefully impress the demon band.

I probably would have kept reading to the end, despite myself. As you can tell from my review, there were things I thought were moderately nifty about the universe of Diabolic Garden.  What I’m not focusing on, however, is the so-called comedy.

Humor is one of those things that doesn’t translate terribly well.

I get that.  So, milage may vary.  For me, a lot of the humorous moments in this manga fell flat.  For whatever reason, a lot of the humor in Diabolic Garden is of the sort where one character basically says something cold or cutting to other character… and so the humor seems biting and unkind.  I’ve run across this kind of humor before, particularly in Tactics. I get that it’s supposed to be funny from the reactions of the other characters, but it always leaves me cold, and certainly not in stitches.

Because I failed the humor, there was a good half of this manga that I didn’t appreciate at all. Also, I didn’t find Tsukasa hot in any way, shape, or form, so I failed the romance, too.  The supernatural stuff–now that kind of almost worked for me.

So, would I recommend it?

Maybe if you’re French.