The Manzai Comics vol. 1
Author/Artist: Atsuko Asano/Hizuru Imai
Publisher: Aurora Publishing
Rating: T – 13 and up
Genre: Shojo, Comedy, Drama, School Life
*** Review originally appeared at The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society at http://liheliso.org. Check it out! ***
Manzai: Japanese stand-up comedy style. It is usually performed as a duo with one straight man and one funnyman (basically Japanese Abbott and Costello type routines).
Takashi Akimoto wants to make it as a manzai performer but he can't seem to find the right partner. That's the case until new student Ayumu Seta transfers to his school. Ayumu has had a rather traumatic past and wants to put that all behind him and be a normal middle school student. He hopes that will be the case until Takashi approaches him and asks, "Please go out with me." Being a bit weirded out Seta thinks that Takashi is gay, but Takashi only wants Ayumu to perform manzai. Ayumu eventually agrees, reluctantly. What Ayumu can't figure out is why Takashi insists that he is the one to perform. Takashi wants to convince Ayumu that being normal is overrated and that Ayumu is special. When the school festival approaches Takashi and Ayumu have the opportunity to perform. Will it work out?
When reading this story knowing what manzai is is definitely a plus. Of course you learn what is through the course of the story, but when I first cracked open this manga I thought that it had something to do with comics (you know the kind you read in the paper, etc.) You quickly learn that no, it's about stand up. I liked this first volume immensely, especially the humor. I loved Takashi's mom. She owns an okonomiyaki restaurant and has become fond of Ayumu. Ayumu's mom is a bit more solemn but knowing the past history of the family you can see why. She wants Ayumu to be a normal kid, but there just seems to be something special about Ayumu bubbling under the surface.
I loved the message that this manga presents. I know that in Japan standing out isn't much of a positive quality but in this manga it recognizes and celebrates those that stand out. Hooray for the unique! I wasn't a huge fan of the art but it's not bad either. The story is what makes this manga stand out. You'll laugh and be touched all at the same time. There's even a touch of what looks like BL (boys love) in it but who knows what's in store for us. This is a series of three volumes and I look forward to reading the rest of the series. Let's hope that the rest of the series is just as awesome! And remember being normal is highly overrated, I'd rather stand out and so should you, it makes life more interesting!
***Review Copy provided by Aurora Publishing***
***Reposted with permission from The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society***