By Soichiro Yamamoto. Released in Japan as “Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san” by Shogakukan, serialization ongoing in the magazine Monthly Shonen Sunday. Released in North America by Yen Press. Translated by Taylor Engel.
After reviewing the first volume of this charming series as a full review, I did Bookshelf Briefs for the 2nd to 4th volumes. I’m still loving it, but there’s usually not a lot to break down over the course of 500-plus words. Takagi teases Nishikata, he tries to overcome it/turn it back on her, he fails, next chapter. It’s a formula, much the same way that My Neighbor Seki follows a similar type of formula. And we do get several chapters here that show off that formula. Nishikata’s desire to beat Takagi in a school run is foiled by his ignorance of the fact that girls have to run shorter distances he’s tricked into helping Takagi pick out a swimsuit (this is a two-parter); and Takagi sees him pretending to be a wizard during a typhoon and mocks him for it, which may be the funniest chapter. But the first and last chapters are why I wanted to give this a review.
I’ll start with the last chapter of the volume, ‘Critical Hit’. This starts off pretty normally, with Nishikata thinking this is his day to finally win against Takagi because his horoscope and blood type fortune were both super lucky. Takagi knows his star sign AND blood type, of course, so shuts this down right away. But he tries anyway, as his horoscope says he’d get a “critical hit” today. So when his friends want him to go buy a game he wants with them, he rejects them and, not wanting to say the real reason, tells Takagi that he wanted to walk home with her. He DID it! He ALMOST won! Technically, he did win… but he’s too embarrassed at the implication, can’t look her in the eye, and backs off. And we see what he didn’t – Takagi is blushing. An important chapter as it shows Takagi is vulnerable and not perfect, and that Nishikata could win if he had more confidence and less second-guessing.
Then there’s the first chapter, Memories, which takes place well over ten years after the main storyline, and shows us Takagi as an adult with her daughter, Chi. The series is about Takagi being someone who likes to tease, but it doesn’t HAVE to be Nishikata. Here, she teases the reader, reminiscing about her middle school yearbook and implying that Nishikata is either a) dead or b) she didn’t end up with him. Any reader who looks at Chi and sees her daddy’s eyes is not going to be fooled, but, like most of Takagi’s “teasing”, this isn’t meant to be hard. She’s just having fun, and sure enough, at the end of the chapter, we see who she’s married to. This chapter is important as it shows us that things are not going to be static forever – sure, the manga may not end with a confession or anything like that, but we see that eventually there is a happy ending. This also helps make the teasing more fun.
Chapters like these are worth ten of Takagi teasing Nishikata about drinking coffee to be more “adult”, and are a big reason I still adore this cute series. Also, it’s now out digitally as well!