Tag Archives: Satsuki Yoshino

Manga Review: Barakamon Vol. 18

The contrast between city and rural life has been a source of entertainment since the time of Aesop’s fables. It remains a popular subject in manga and anime today, and joining the ranks of Silver Nina, Non Non Biyori, and Silver Spoon is Yen Press’ series Barakamon. Read on for my review of Volume 18! (For my reviews of previous volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

It’s been a year since Handa arrived on the island, and a lot has changed for the residents of Nanatsutake Village. Hiroshi’s in Tokyo, Miwa and her friends have graduation on their minds, and Naru and her classmates are going into their second year of elementary school. With everyone looking to the future, the time to say goodbye approaches in the final volume of Barakamon.

The Review

It’s been a year since Handa arrived at the island, and this final installment notes how the characters have moved forward over that time. Some progressions are mundane. The kids advance another grade in school but are otherwise exactly the same. The notable exception is Tama, who achieves a significant milestone when her work gets published as an honorable mention in a manga contest. The subject of that work, however, is a massive detour from her usual genre and turns into a bit of a running joke.

Unlike Tama, who’s been diligently working at her mangaka dream, Miwa has been more a giant goof-off, but in this final volume, Miwa decides to become a brewer. Because she’s the flaky type, I took it as a joke at first, but apparently she’s serious. (Or as serious as Miwa can get.) I found it rather sudden, nearly as sudden as her dad shutting down his store to take a job on Yuuichirou’s ship. Overall, the timing feels odd because there wasn’t foreshadowing for either development, and because the series is ending, we don’t actually get to see Miwa set out on the path of the brewer or how she adjusts to life without her dad at home.

An arc that actually achieves a kind of resolution, however, is the relationship between Naru and her dad. Theirs is definitely not the typical parent-child dynamic, but it starts to shift in that direction with some help from Miwa and Handa. Unfortunately, it is not entirely satisfying because we never get any information on Naru’s mom, nor does Naru show any interest in learning about her.

As for Handa, this final installment has him growing into his calligraphy teacher role although he remains as immature as his students. This is evidenced by the final chapter in which the now second-grade kids designate Handa their substitute first-grader at the school’s first years welcome party. While the villagers have become accustomed to Handa and he’s found a way to support himself, he hasn’t changed that much.

Extras include translation notes.

In Summary

The series concludes! It doesn’t exactly go out with a whimper, but it’s not a strong finish. Some loose ends get wrapped up, like Naru’s relationship with her dad, but Yoshino-sensei oddly chooses to introduce a couple new elements with the story about to close. As for our main character Handa, he merely exhibits his usual immature behavior for the last chapters.

First published at The Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Barakamon Vol. 17

The contrast between city and rural life has been a source of entertainment since the time of Aesop’s fables. It remains a popular subject in manga and anime today, and joining the ranks of Silver Nina, Non Non Biyori, and Silver Spoon is Yen Press’ series Barakamon. Read on for my review of Volume 17! (For my reviews of previous volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Spring is coming, but without Hiroshi, the villagers are in a bit of a funk. What will Handa-sensei do to cheer everyone up? Find out in Volume 17 of this hot ‘n’ hearty island comedy!

The Review

Handa’s a professional calligrapher and has spent a lot of effort (sort of) getting his calligraphy school started. Despite that, there’s no calligraphy at all in this installment of Barakamon. Rather, this volume is a collection of short episodes that poke fun at Handa’s immaturity and the folly of city folk.

However, there is one gag that runs throughout. Volume 16 focused primarily on Hiroshi’s departure from the island, and his absence is still keenly felt, especially by his mother. As a result, Handa gets the harebrained idea of becoming a Hiroshi substitute in Chapter 122, and ta-dah! One blond-dyed Handa for the duration of Volume 17. Obviously, it provides more fuel for the villagers to tease Handa, but Handa’s Hiroshi impersonations are pretty funny, too.

Then after a silly mini-mystery involving Handa’s refrigerator and two (ugly) stray cats, two college kids show up. Unlike previous visitors to the village, this aspiring idol and film student have no connection to Handa or any locals. They’ve come to make a documentary about rural life for a class assignment and are as intrusive as Kousuke was. They are also out of touch with reality, and most of the humor in this two-chapter arc stems from the disconnect between their idyllic notions of country life and actual Nanatsutake. Although Handa usually plays the part of the clueless city-slicker, this is a rare case where he’s more villager than not as he grudgingly hosts the students.

The volume then wraps up with two single-chapter stories. If you’ve ever wondered about squid-fishing, Chapter 126 will tell you more than you ever imagined about it. Even if you don’t care about squid, you get to see Handa interacting with a group of village men, which he doesn’t do often. And finally, Chapter 127 has all the Nanatsutake residents working together at the village’s cleanup event. “Working,” of course, is a relative term where Handa and the kids are involved, and the chapter is a stellar example of what happens when sensible Hiroshi isn’t around to keep everyone on task.

Extras include bonus manga, translation notes, and another installment of “Barakamon News.”

In Summary

There’s no major story arc or calligraphy in this installment. Rather it’s a hodgepodge of vignettes, ranging from a squid-fishing excursion to clean up day. Two Tokyo students briefly take over the clueless urbanite role when they traipse in for a class film project, but between cats raiding his fridge and his inability to cook for himself, Handa strongly continues as the village silly city slicker.

First published at The Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Barakamon Vol. 16

The contrast between city and rural life has been a source of entertainment since the time of Aesop’s fables. It remains a popular subject in manga and anime today, and joining the ranks of Silver Nina, Non Non Biyori, and Silver Spoon is Yen Press’ series Barakamon. Read on for my review of Volume 16! (For my reviews of previous volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Life never seems to get easier for Handa-sensei in this funny, heartwarming slice-of-life series!

The Review

Handa may be the main character, but Hiroshi steals the spotlight for most of these chapters. This installment even includes sketches of Hiroshi at different ages in between chapters. So if you’re a fan of the village’s “ordinary” teenager, you won’t want to miss this volume.

It begins with graduation day at Hiroshi’s school, in which Yoshino-sensei uses the four-panel style she used for the Handa-kun series. And in the midst of parting words from educators, well-wishes from younger students, commemorative photos, and other classic graduation moments, Rina Tajima struggles to make a love confession to Hiroshi. However, Hiroshi is extraordinarily dense for an ordinary person, and Rina’s attempts to express her feelings get misinterpreted time and again. For those who enjoyed the comic miscommunications of the Handakun manga, Act. 115: ”Hiroshi Graduates” offers the same flavor of humor.

The book then delivers two brief, silly chapters about Handa and the village kids before shifting the focus to dads. Although it begins with Handa senior’s latest calligraphy piece, Act. 118 turns into a joint reflection between Handa and Hiroshi about their fathers. Then Act. 119 takes it a big step further with Handa pondering Naru’s relationship with her father as Yuuichirou Kotoishi mails a steady stream of one-line messages to the young calligrapher. We only got one glimpse of Yuuichirou before, and his postcards don’t provide any additional solid information about him although they do confirm his quirky personality. However, the mail exchange does prompt Handa to ask Hiroshi about Naru’s mom (something I’ve been wondering about this entire series). While Hiroshi also doesn’t have any concrete facts to offer, his reply does confirm that none of the villagers—with the possible exception of Naru’s grandpa—knows the true circumstances behind Naru’s origins.

Then Hiroshi retakes the spotlight with a barf-inducing roadtrip to a local landmark and finally his grand exit via ferry. Departures generally spark memories, and we get lots of anecdotes—both funny and fond—as friends and family give Hiroshi a ticker tape style send off. Personally, I’ve liked Hiroshi a lot, and I’m sad to see the village’s most level-headed member go.

Extras include bonus manga, translation notes, translated advertisements for Barakamon related merchandise, and another installment of “Barakamon News.”

In Summary

Like so many small town kids, Hiroshi’s been fixin’ to leave for the big city once he’s graduated, and that moment has arrived. Although the long-suffering teenager has gotten the short end of the stick time and again, these chapters do show how well-regarded he is among family and friends. So amid Hiroshi’s aspirations for the future are fond memories and comical last-minute attempts to make memories before he leaves home.

First published at The Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Barakamon Vol. 15

The contrast between city and rural life has been a source of entertainment since the time of Aesop’s fables. It remains a popular subject in manga and anime today, and joining the ranks of Silver Nina, Non Non Biyori, and Silver Spoon is Yen Press’ series Barakamon. Read on for my review of Volume 15! (For my reviews of previous volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Severely overestimating the villagers’ wealth, Handa-sensei finds himself quite short on students for his calligraphy school upon announcing his exorbitant tuition rate. But as his hopes begin to fade, a savior appears!?

The Review

Handa has settled into the island community for a while now, but the calligraphy school arc has a similar vibe to Barakamon’s early chapters where he was struggling to adjust. This time, however, instead of being the clueless city boy learning how to live in the country, he’s the sheltered artist figuring out how to make a living. Yoshino-sensei makes clear just how sheltered Handa’s been when he discovers his father’s been paying rent for him all this time. When village chief informs Handa that his father now expects him to pay his own rent, the young calligrapher’s stunned speechless. What’s more, Handa doesn’t have even a basic grasp of how a calligraphy school functions as he’s only ever trained at home.

Handa’s definitely not the type of protagonist to figure these kinds of things by his own strength. Unfortunately, the islanders can’t offer much help in his latest endeavor, and he takes on an almost predatory view of his friends as prospective students. (Naru’s comparison of Handa to a sea anemone is quite funny). As such, it’s up to the friend who’s always handled the business aspects of Handa’s calligraphy—namely Kawafuji—to help with the business aspects of starting Handa’s school.

As a result, there are a lot of parallels with earlier chapters as Handa fails to plan ahead, gets overwhelmed to the point of paralysis, and exhibits no practical ability whatsoever to Kawafuji’s frustration. If you enjoy watching Handa’s occasional moments of brilliance amid mostly incompetent behavior, you’ll have a lot to like.

The remaining two chapters are brief holiday-themed stories. The first is Setsubun—Gotou style! As part of this Japanese holiday, children pelt a “demon” with beans, and you can easily guess whom the kids choose as their demon. Then we shift to the middle school for Valentine’s Day. There’s little romance to be had, but quite a few delusional girls.

Extras include bonus manga, translation notes, and another installment of “Barakamon News.”

In Summary

In the early chapters of Barakamon, Handa struggled as a clueless city boy unused to country life. Now he’s struggling again—as a clueless person unused to basic adult responsibilities. And once more it’s up to Kawafuji to do the practical thinking for his sheltered artist friend. If you were hoping for more Kawafuji-style tough love, you’ll get it in this volume.

First published at The Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Barakamon Vol. 14

The contrast between city and rural life has been a source of entertainment since the time of Aesop’s fables. It remains a popular subject in manga and anime today, and joining the ranks of Silver Nina, Non Non Biyori, and Silver Spoon is Yen Press’ series Barakamon. Read on for my review of Volume 14! (For my reviews of previous volumes, click here.)

Back Cover Blurb

Reality is tough, but…surely, the future must be bright. Handa-sensei has returned from Tokyo with a new declaration–he’s going to start his own calligraphy school! But will he find any students!? But when an unusually cold winter brings rare snow to the island, is Handa prepared to hibernate the time away?

The Review

Handa’s returned to the island! However, he is a (somewhat) changed man with a new dream. Before he was an artist striving to find inspiration and his own unique means of expression. Now Handa’s quitting contests and commissioned work to open his very own calligraphy school!

It’s a well-established fact that Handa has no practical skills to speak of and that the Kawafujis have always handled the business end of his calligraphy. That combined with Handa’s unrealistic expectations regarding his new endeavor now gives readers the beginnings of an extended arc with a lot of potential. But before Handa can attempt to recruit Gotou students for his ¥20,000 per month (approximately $200 per month) lessons, he has two obstacles to contend with: the daikon bet and Kanzaki.

The daikon bet was struck a couple volumes back between Farmer Mush and Handa and further complicated by Kanzaki’s thoughtlessness. With Handa certain that Mush will ask for the rights to his house if the daikon are not up to snuff, Yoshino-sensei packs quite a bit of tension into the daikon picking. However, the ultimate outcome culminates in a hilarious illustration that took me completely by surprise. Chapter 103 mixes up the fallout from the bet with the village children’s tag game, which, though not quite as funny as Chapter 102, still incorporates a lot of entertaining action.

As for Kanzaki, he can’t bear to see the artist he idolized leave the calligraphy world. And unfortunately for Handa, a blizzard snows them in so he’s stuck having to listen to Kanzaki’s protests. While it’s funny watching two hapless city boys trying to cope when the water pipes freeze, Kanzaki’s whining comes off as annoying and shrill rather than comical, so it’s a relief when he finally flies back to Tokyo.

Extras include bonus manga on the inside of the cover flaps, translation notes (which are for some reason placed between Chapters 106 and 107), and another installment of “Barakamon News.”

In Summary

A new dream for Handa means a new arc for Barakamon! Opening a calligraphy school out in the sticks poses a whole different set of challenges for our displaced Tokyoite, starting with securing his teaching space from Farmer Mush and defending his decision against Kanzaki’s protests. While the daikon showdown is quite a bit more fun than I expected, Kanzaki’s whining gets irritating fast, and it’s a relief when he finally leaves the island at the end of the volume.

First published at The Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Handa-Kun Vol. 7

Fans of Satsuki Yoshino’s Barakamon can now get even more Handa-centric comedy. Yen Press has released Handa-Kun, a prequel series which chronicles the high school days of our favorite genius calligrapher. Read on for my review of Volume 7. (Click here for reviews of other volumes).

Back Cover Blurb

Just when you thought it was all over, the whole crew makes a surprising return for three extra chapters! How will the Handa Army react to the news that their beloved Handa will be the focus of an anime series? By blowing it all ridiculously out of proportion, of course! The final volume of Handa-kun is full of high jinks with the Handa Army, plus some special extras from the author.

The Review

It’s the final volume of the series! But it’s not so much a final arc as it is a collection of illustrations, comics, and mini-stories. It opens with a Special Comic Gallery: nine full color pages of color manga that had previously been only published in the magazine.

Next are three mini-arcs, each with a lengthy note from the Yoshino-sensei about its creation. Although all the stories take place after Handa realizes he’s not actually an outcast, the feel of first two stories don’t differ all that much from the earlier arcs. That is because even though Handa’s eyes have been opened to the truth, that doesn’t mean his classmates are suddenly cured of HND-syndrome. As such, fans of the impassioned hijinks of the Handa Army will get to enjoy one additional chapter of the same in “Handa-kun and the TV Anime.” As you might guess, this mini-arc includes a tie-in to the actual Handa-kun anime as well as the Handa Army’s disastrous attempt to create an anime of their own. As for “Handa-kun and the Person in Front,” it follows the “Handa-kun through a side character’s POV” format. Again, even though Handa realizes he’s not despised, that doesn’t stop his classmates from grossly misinterpreting his words and actions.

The final mini-arc, “Handa-kun and the Handa Army,” is a more standard type of postscript story. Handa’s homeroom class holds a reunion, and we get to see how everyone looks six years later. One of the nice touches of this volume is that the cover illustration is a class photo and the book’s final illustration shows everyone in the same pose as adults. Since Handa has a whole series dedicated to his life after school, Yoshino-sensei instead uses the reunion as a way for the class to gossip about Handa and each other. However, she does manage to connect it to the Barakamon series at the end.

Interspersed amid the mini-arcs are a lot of bonus illustrations, and finally, the volume wraps up with several pages of mini-comics, even more bonus illustrations, and the last installment of “Handa-Kun News.”

In Summary

It’s the final volume of Handa-kun, but it feels more like a fan book with all the illustrations and bonus material crammed inside. However, Yoshino-sensei does deliver three final mini-arcs. Two are simply more manifestations of HND-syndrome, but the third is a fun glimpse of Handa’s classmates as adults and how they’ve grown up (or not).

First published at The Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Handa-Kun Vol. 6

Fans of Satsuki Yoshino’s Barakamon can now get even more Handa-centric comedy. Yen Press has released Handa-Kun, a prequel series which chronicles the high school days of our favorite genius calligrapher. Read on for my review of Volume 6. (Click here for reviews of other volumes).

Back Cover Blurb

Handa-kun and company have survived the class trip, but now the culture festival is right on top of them! Will Handa get to contribute to the festival preparations, or will the culture festival be his biggest high school frustration yet?

The Review

The previous volume mentioned that this would be the final volume in the series. As it turns out, Volume 6 is the penultimate, not the final volume. The Handa-kun News at the end of the book explains that, due to popular demand, a seventh volume with an extra arc will be released as the last in the series. However, the structure of Volume 6 is very much that of a finale.

A single arc focusing on the school’s annual cultural festival comprises this book. Three chapters are about the festival preparations, two chapters about the event itself, and one about the festival after-party. Because the entire school is involved in preparations and the festival is an open event, it provides the perfect setting to revisit the impact HND-syndrome has had on the cast, even the White Shirts from the rival school. Thus, seemingly everyone, from fortuneteller Tsugumi to the carnivore girls, gets a cameo, like in so many manga and anime finales.

The setting also lends itself to some comical visuals, ranging from various Handa themed games to the fake Handa’s Handa Clone Army. In addition, we get the novelty of seeing Handa’s class in period crossdress for their drama cafe.

Unfortunately, the plot is lackluster. Yoshino-sensei has relied heavily on Handa and his fans misinterpreting one another throughout the series for laughs, and getting more of the same at this point is rather tiresome. The drama cafe play is an inane interpretation of Romeo and Juliet with a badly selected cast, which is a situation that has been done to death in anime/manga. The introduction of the “black suits” makes things interesting for a while, but then it just gets confusing when they reveal why they’ve come to the festival.

As for the conclusion to the arc, Kawafuji’s remorse and efforts to rectify the situation are believable. The final resolution is not. After several volumes of reinforcing Handa’s paranoia of his classmates, the sudden collapse of the “Handa wall” feels like cheating.

Extras include the title illustration in color, bonus manga, translation notes, and an installment of “Handa-Kun News.”

In Summary

It’s not the final volume of Handa-kun, but it’s definitely written like one. The school festival provides a recap of Handa’s impact on his adorning fans. However, many gags are just variations of jokes we’ve seen before. A seventh volume follows this one, but it already feels like the series has gone on too long.

First published at The Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Barakamon Vol. 13

The contrast between city and rural life has been a source of entertainment since the time of Aesop’s fables. It remains a popular subject in manga and anime today, and joining the ranks of Silver Nina, Non Non Biyori, and Silver Spoon is Yen Press’ series Barakamon. Read on for my review of Volume 13! (For my reviews of previous volumes, click here.)

Back cover blurb

Tagging along on Handa-sensei’s visit home, Naru finally arrives in Tokyo! Trains, tall buildings, the zoo-the big city’s full of amazing first experiences! But what will Handa decide when his dad asks him to come back to Tokyo? Volume 13 promises growth, courage, and farewells!

The Review

The tables are turned when Naru joins Handa on a trip to Tokyo. Now he’s the regional expert, and she can barely comprehend her hectic surroundings. But while she makes an atypical guest in the Handa household, this arc is less about her and more about the interactions Handa has with the adults of Tokyo.

For starters, Yoshino-sensei introduces Ojou, a college student working part time for the Kawafuji business. She’s also the girl Handa was asked to consider as a marriage prospect. After Handa turned the proposal down, I didn’t think she’d be mentioned again, let alone make an appearance. However, she is quite unlike her photo and, despite certain shortcomings, can hold her own in the art business world. Except for Kawafuji, Handa hasn’t had much opportunity to hang out with people his age, and as he and Ojou interact, we get a pretty good idea why he doesn’t have a girlfriend.

Then on the professional end of things, Handa meets the representatives for the major hotel project his father is working on as well as a young calligrapher just starting his career. Because Handa has been producing commissioned works and participating in contests (and is the son of a master calligrapher), I assumed he knew what a career as a calligrapher would entail. This trip to Tokyo shows just how much he doesn’t know about the art business. While Naru does have the opportunity to cause her particular brand of mayhem away from home, these chapters are less about her city experience and more about Handa’s reflections on the trajectory of his life.

However, the village isn’t completely left out of this volume. Kanzaki runs away to the village, supposedly to get away from “society’s strictures,” and Handa gives the kid permission to stay at his house while he’s in Tokyo. Thus the island gets another city boy in Handa’s absence. Kanzaki though is less of a clueless urbanite than he is an annoying, whiny one, and poor Hiroshi gets saddled with the brunt of Kanzaki’s damage.

Extras include two bonus manga, translation notes, and another installment of “Barakamon News.”

In Summary

Handa finally gets his chance to show one of the villagers around his home turf. However, this arc winds up less about city versus county life and more about the direction of Handa’s life. Naru displays some of her usual kiddie antics, but for the most part this arc is an intriguing glimpse into the demands on a professional artist and the relationship possibilities for Handa’s personal life.

First published at The Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Handa-Kun Vol. 5

Fans of Satsuki Yoshino’s Barakamon can now get even more Handa-centric comedy. Yen Press has released Handa-Kun, a prequel series which chronicles the high school days of our favorite genius calligrapher. Read on for my review of Volume 5. (Click here for reviews of other volumes).

Back Cover Blurb

The class trip has begun, but now it’s not just his own classmates Handa needs to worry about. When a rival school ends up going along for the ride, isn’t it a given that Handa-kun’s going to run afoul of a whole new set of kids? The Handa Army have met their nemesee…nemenisee…neemessss–their rivals! There is no way they will allow their beloved Handa to be diminished by the white shirts! Meanwhile, poor Handa-kun is trying REALLY hard just to fit in…

The Review

Volume 5 covers the class trip that Handa’s been anticipating as an opportunity to make friends. Although it does include the usual misunderstandings and failed attempts at bonding with classmates, most of the plot is dominated by students from another school. Nicknamed the “White Shirts,” they get along with the students of Handa’s school like cats and dogs. And this rival school has its own charismatic leader and minions to match Handa and his army.

By “match,” I do mean match. Ichimiya’s bodyguards are comprised of a burly delinquent, a bespectacled nerd, a pretty fashionista, and a no-name ordinary guy. The most entertaining of them is Sousuke Kojika, who goes to interesting lengths for the sake of beauty and has a unique connection to the delinquent of the Handa Army.

As with Handa and his Army, Ichimiya’s Bodyguards operate largely independent of the leader they idolize. So while Handa and Ichimiya are touring Kyoto’s sights, the Army and Bodyguards are waging war, which alternates between group efforts and individuals facing off against his equivalent. Much of this fighting is just a hyped version of the usual Handa Army antics, but the big surprise is the clash between the average guys. Kondou has been a levelheaded observer for most of this series, but it turns out he’s not completely dispassionate when it comes to Handa either.

A major challenge Western readers will have with the arc is the Kyoto backdrop. In keeping with the tourist spots they visit, characters dress up as Japanese icons and make historical references in jokes and insults. If you’ve studied Japanese history or watched one of the many anime or Japanese dramas about the Shinsengumi/Ryouma Sakamoto/Bakumatsu, you have a decent chance of enjoying these chapters. If not, the translation notes in the back of the book provide a lot of information, but it will require much flipping back and forth.

Extras include the title illustration in color, bonus manga, translation notes, and an installment of “Handa-Kun News.”

In Summary

It’s delusion insanity squared when the Handa Army clashes with students from a rival school during their class trip. While the Kyoto setting allows for fun props and samurai cosplay, these chapters are heavy on historical references, which will go over the heads of most Western readers. And although most of the Handa Army’s hijinks are predictable, the trip brings out a surprising side of Kondou, who isn’t as immune to HND Syndrome as previously thought.

First published at The Fandom Post.

Manga Review: Handa-Kun Vol. 4

Fans of Satsuki Yoshino’s Barakamon can now get even more Handa-centric comedy. Yen Press has released Handa-Kun, a prequel series which chronicles the high school days of our favorite genius calligrapher. Read on for my review of Volume 4. (Click here for reviews of other volumes).

Back Cover Blurb

The trials of high school life continue to vex poor Handa-kun. This time he’s drawn the attention of the school’s wannabe manga creators and a passive aggressive library rep, but the true horror high school has in store for him waits just around the corner…

The Review

Of the Handa Army, Yukio is the only one who isn’t delusional. He’s also the one member who doesn’t actually want to be part of the group. But the others won’t let him go, and it’s only a matter of time before Yukio’s reputation is affected. Thus, we have Chapter 16: Handa-kun and the Mundane, in which Yukio experiences a classic high school manga scenario, the letter in the shoe locker. But instead of romance, it turns into a parody, thanks to his association with the Handa Army. While the Handa Army’s commentary on the subject is predictably off the wall, Yoshino-sensei does a good job of setting up Yukio’s expectations and then pulling the rug out from under him.

Then the story moves on to introduce new characters. In Chapter 17, we meet the Beautie-Girls Art Club, an otaku mangaka club. Although they make Handa the subject of their next bulletin in hopes of boosting sales, this chapter mainly pokes fun at extreme geek culture and mannerisms, which, for some reason, include an inordinate amount of puking. To add to the club members’ already unstylish appearances, Yoshino-sensei doesn’t seem to put much effort into drawing them. And despite devoting a 38-page chapter to the club’s creative efforts, we don’t actually see any of the Handa-centric manga they make.

Chapter 18 follows with yet another new character. Kasumi Hirayama is a more typical personality in that she is a Handa fan who admires him from afar. And as library representative, she does most of her admiring amid the bookshelves. However, just as Chapter 16 was more about Yukio’s interaction with the Handa Army than Handa himself, Chapter 18 winds up more about the Handa Army’s impact on the introverted student librarian than her interactions with Handa.

Then as if to showcase all those who’ve fallen under Handa’s spell, Chapter 19 offers a massive convergence of HND-sufferers stalking–I mean, lovingly watching over him as he walks home. The funniest is the most recent evolution of Miyoko Kinjou, whose nickname Eraser is surprisingly fitting. For the most part, Handa avoids direct interaction with his classmates but under such an onslaught, the chapter culminates in a rare moment where he directly addresses the fanatics (but gets completely misunderstood as usual).

Extras include bonus manga, translation notes, and an installment of “Handa-Kun News.”

In Summary

A little Handa goes a long way. Although his actions are minimal in the first three chapters, they’re still enough to save a club and revitalize the school’s neglected library. We do experience a bit of Handa’s thoughts when fanatics descend en masse after school, but even then, the focus in more on the victims of HND syndrome than the angsty teen himself.

First published at The Fandom Post.