By Tekka Yaguraba. Released in Japan by Kodansha, serialization ongoing in the magazine good! Afternoon. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Andrew Cunningham. Adapted by Betsy Aoki
I’ve mentioned a few times before that ongoing manga series in Japan tend to be written with multiple plots and endings in mind, depending on how popular the series ends up being. The classic example is the failed Shonen Jump series that ends in about two volumes with “and the adventure continues”. And sometimes you see shoujo classics that begin as what seems like a series of one-shots before they pick up an ongoing plot – because that’s what they were. In my opinion, it’s easier to do the cut short version. In fact, editors are experts at it. I imagine it must be a bit more difficult when you have a cute idea that seems to be something that could go nine, ten chapters and then you realize that it’s got enough readers that you need to do more. Sorry for My Familiar feels like the latter. As a cute, one-shot, it’d be fantastic. As an ongoing series? Ummm…
The plot is pretty simple, and drive by comedy. Patty is a very nice little Devil girl who happens to be burdened with the classic deadbeat dad – in fact, as the book goes on you begin to wonder if the dad was written by Rumiko Takahashi. She’s in a demon world where most of her fellows have some sort of magical animal familiar. She’s not strong enough to get those. Instead, she has Norman, who is a human, a demon researcher, and completely and utterly WEIRD. Norman is the reason to read the series – Patty is nice and all, but is mostly used as the straight man and occasional tsukkomi. (In fact, Patty’s niceness may come down to her background – she has no idea what kind of devil she is, and Norman spends some embarrassing moments wondering if she’s actually a cow.) The series involves the two of them trying to find her father and getting into scrapes, usually because Norman is endlessly curious and kind of rude.
The start of the volume is the best, as you will find that Norman is just so appalling most of the time in his dedicated research above nearly anything else that you can’t help but be dragged along, much as Patty is. His research does come in handy in getting out of several scrapes, but honestly I think a large part of it may also be his inhuman endurance – not implying he’s secretly a demon or anything, if anything I suspect his ability to overcome any hardship is meant to be an extension of his “anything for research” side. The main trouble is that Norman is not only somewhat exhausting to Patty, but to the reader as well – about two-thirds of the way through the book I was ready for it to be over. This is not uncommon in many comedy manga, admittedly, and it’s why it’s so hard to do properly.
The series seems to be three volumes and counting in Japan, and I was definitely amused enough to get a second volume – it’s fun. But if you end up falling behind, a word of advice: don’t binge read this. Little sips.