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Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai Manga Quarterly Review

Here, I’ll give you an excerpt from the Wikipedia article for Methylethanolamine:

“N-Methylethanolamine is an alkanolamine and toxic flammable corrosive colorless viscous liquid. It is the biochemical precursor of choline. With both an anime and an hydroxyl functional groups…

That’s right. Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai is a 6-volume (ongoing) light novel series, with two manga adaptations – Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai and Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai+, which I imagine is better than Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai as Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai does not have that plus at the end of its name. However, Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai+ is not electromagnetically neutral and I suppose that’s why nobody has scanlated it.

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai may be an alkanolamine, and in its liquid form, it is toxic, flammable, corrosive, colourless, viscous, and vicious. It may also be the biochemical precursor of choline. With an anime adaptation coming up, I suppose this has many similarities to Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu – not only in their untranslatable translatable Japanese titles beginning with ‘B’, having three words, and two particles, but also in their having the same amount of chapters, being based on a light novel, and its harem-esque setting.

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai, literally ‘I don’t have (m)any friends’, is about Hasegawa Kodaka, an exchange stud.

Kodaka lives with his sister, Hasegawa Kobato (who can be imagined as a cross between Kirino and Kuroneko), in his old home in Japan. He moved to England with his Japanese father and English mother in elementary, but his father kept on hopping to weird jobs. Eventually, his father found a job overseas, and Kodaka and Kobato are now living in the house he used to live in, with Kodaka attending his first year of high school.

Unfortunately, as a child, he was bullied because of his bully’s hairstyle (read: Bleach). Ironic much, huh.

Although Kodaka was bullied as a little kid, he learned how to fight, along with a friend of his who he will NEVER MEET AGAIN (by never meet again, I mean ‘He’ll meet in the sixtieth chapter after the author has ran out of other ideas’). As a result of this, everybody is scared of him, and he has no friends.

Kodaka is attending St. Chronica’s Academy, a Catholic school with the enviable and venerable Christian ideals of “Let’s avoid foreigners”, “Let’s bully Hideyoshis because they don’t look manly enough”, “Let’s make girls think that they’ll get raped even though nobody will actually rape them”, and “Let’s make an Englishman get a harem of Japanese girls because Japanese men don’t matter”.

One day, he meets Mikaduki Yozora, a riiiiiiiiiich and beautifuuuuuul girl (who actually isn’t rich nor beautiful). Since she’s neither rich nor beautiful, she has no friends. Kodaka and Yozara decide to create a club to make friends, the Neighbours’ Club, but of course, nobody wants to be friends with people with no friends.

Four more people join the club. Kusunoki Yukimura is a MANLY MAN trying to FIGHT his way past his TORMENTORS, who BULLY him every day because of his MANLY appearance. Yukimura, who oddly enough looks exactly the same as Hideyoshi and every other trap there is, is in fact a MANLY MAN underneath, who will not hesitate to do MANLY THINGS like putting on MAID DRESSES, serving TEA, and witnessing Kodaka RAPE UNDERAGE NUNS.

The underage nun in question is Takayama Maria, a supposed ‘genius’ who managed to become a teacher at the age of… ten. However, not only is she not a genius, she is also not a nun. Thus, I was lying when I said that Yukimura witnessed Kodaka rape underage nuns. Yukimura did not in fact witness anything, there was only one underage nun, and she was not a nun. Thus, the only thing that happened was Kodaka raping Maria.

The second female lead is Kashiwazaki Sena, a passionate gamer of interesting games, including ‘Snake’, ‘Snake 2: the Revenge of the Apples Being Eaten by the Snake’, ‘Snake 3: the Hydra with Three Heads’, ‘Snake 4: SNAKE? SNAKE?! SNAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAKE!!!’, and ‘Snake 5: the Curly Snake’, of which a screenshot is pasted below of her extreme passion (and at times, enigmatic speech bubbles) towards such interesting games.

As you can see, with the exception of the MANLY MAN Yukimura, everybody in the club is NOT a MANLY MAN. Even Kodaka, because MANLY MEN do not get witnessed by other MANLY MEN while they are raping underaged nuns. However, since Kodaka was NOT witnessed, was only raping ONE underaged nun, who was NOT EVEN A NUN, I suppose Kodaka is a MANLY MAN too.

In fact, there is one more MANLY MAN in this assemblage of obviously-not-very-MANLY men. His name is John Yossarian, and he was a bombardier during the SECOND WORLD WAR.

You may not trust what I say, but that is alright, as Shiguma Rika is a supposed ‘genius’ who managed to become a genius at the age of… whatever-her-age-was. However, not only is she not a genius, she is also not… whatever-her-age-was. Thus, I was lying when I said that Yukimura witnessed Kodaka rape underage nuns, because not only was Kodaka NOT witnessed, he was only raping ONE underaged nun, who was NOT EVEN A NUN, and was in fact Shiguma Rika.

Lieutenant Scheisskopf had the facts at his fingertips.

What the Neighbours’ Club did is evident by the tags on this manga and how it is 18+: “Ecchi, Harem, School Life, Seinen, Rape.” However, they also do many other activities such as: practising their drawing skills, playing Snake 40: SNAPE? SNAPE?! SNAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAPE!!!, being MANLY MEN (even though there are only THREE manly men, of which one is a woman, one was witnessed by the other MANLY MAN as to raping underaged nuns and so is not or maybe is a manly man, and the final one may actually not be such a manly man, so I suppose there are no MANLY MAN in this manga), and not going to school.


Actually I think Kodaka /receives/ the rape

This manga is the best harem manga I have ever read, which is saying nothing. How about evaluating its humour?

Nichijou primarily uses randomness and cuteness for its humour. Azazel-san uses shock and weird art. Sukunai, on the third hand, uses unexpectedness (different from randomness) and situational humour. This isn’t saying that any one (type of humour) is better than any other, but Sukunai’s is quite different. It doesn’t look at the dark side of society or anything, neither does it rely on cute girls doing cute things (and it’s not going to tread that line anytime soon – another reason why I love this).

Really, you can’t look at Sukunai as a harem manga. In normal harem manga, the girls would be treated as, how should I put it decently, er… rape objects (deal with it!). They are unimportant objects for the otamot to sometimes fall onto in an awkward position. However, in Sukunai, the girls are more protagonist-y than the main character. They aren’t those perfect harem-girls either, as their use of vulgar language is quite… vulgar. Not reading this simply because it’s a harem manga (really, Rika’s the only person in this manga who would form a harem with Kodaka. Her and maybe Yukimura) is the worst decision you have ever made in your life. It’s even less harem than Kaminomi, which, btw, is like the second best harem manga I have ever read.

It’s pretty ironic how this manga will make you laugh, seeing as the people in it don’t know what that is.

Funny thing is, even though it’s set in a school situation, Sukunai has absolutely nothing to do with school. Not only is homework never mentioned, there’s also no scenes set in school at all, and school is never even talked about. Seems that more and more, school in manga is just a setting for the protagonists to meet each other – take anything set in a school. Does it ever talk about school? Even the ones that do talk about school hardly talk about learning, or at least regular learning. Blue Exorcist, Bakatest, Beelzebub, HotD. Regular things don’t happen in their schools. In others, it starts off with being in a school, but eventually that doesn’t even matter. Madoka, Index, Gosick, Durarara.

Even the ones where ‘normal’ school does play a part – Nichijou, Hourou Musuko, even GTO – do they ever talk about learning? If there was this other place that a bunch of protagonist-aged people went to every day and met a lot of other protagonist-aged people, is there any reason anymore to use school as a backdrop in animanga?

School is getting corrupted by this way of thinking – people may be starting to think of school as a place to meet people, have adventures, etc. instead of an institution of learning. Of course, one can argue that that /is/ the point of school, but what I mean is, there aren’t many mangoes focusing on /school/ anymore (Silver Spoon is one good one that is entirely dealing with school – perhaps the last one there is). Sukunai does bring up a major point early on – are friends actually worth it? However, it quickly puts this down the drain. Man, I hope it brings up more points like that later on – it’d be cool to see this become a literary manga debating the ethics of… rape. Why do I keep on saying that

Funny how highschool is so easy to use in Japan – you get that first-year transfer stud who’s new and needs to make friends etc., which isn’t uncommon – after all, it’s the first year of highschool. Furthermore, people are 16 in their first year, making it exactly the right time for… raping. That’s not the case in Canada, with there being no middle school and first-year of highschool having like 13-year-old idiots. I wonder what Canadian mangaka use, instead of highschool.

It’s funny how galges are getting worked into animango today, too. I thought the part where Sena forced them to play galges reminded me of… something that I’d seen before, and all of a sudden, I realized that this plot may have been copied straight and entirely out of Oreimo. Even if the story were original (which it may as well have been – I don’t know when Oreimo was published and when this was, or even if the author heard of Oreimo), this trend of stories aligning towards otaku culture is reaching a bubble. Gosh, this is what I hate about trends – you see one show, and another show with like the same premise. Eventually, once the bubble pops, you won’t see that premise again until it becomes another fad…

Traps, too, not just galge. Nevertheless, it is quite cool to see many variations on a theme – there are feminine traps, and then there are traps that want to become MANLY MEN. I wonder if Yukimura’s going to change his style of talking to sound like one of those gang members. Maybe he already is talking like that with his frequent capitalization.

The art for Sukunai is… fluid. The zeroth chapter was really nice and crisp, but the first got much ‘worse’. Eh, I like this style – it flows extremely well, and looks natural. Much better than having robotic faces or overdrawn-hair. Some scenes look bad, but other scenes look absolutely delicious. …that wasn’t a very good choice of adjective, was it.

What’s with the sudden explosive of ‘genius’ characters? They seemed pretty shunned-upon last decade. Yet, now we have ‘genius’ teachers and ‘genius’ inventors – never mind that they’re a loli and fujoshi, and how their ‘geniusness’ is never expounded upon.

That said, when this becomes an anime, I expect Rika to be the new ‘most loved character ever’. I mean, to most of the otaku community (read: fat, jobless creepers), there’s this genius girl that’s not fat, likes reading weird manga, says things about rape, and isn’t fat.

..Oh my, writing things down does clarify opinions, doesn’t it.

In conclusion, it’s easy to step into Kodaka’s shoes, and this strategy is much better than other harem-strategies, esp. of making the person a faceless, emotionless, personality-less idiot. See, it’s easy to think like him not because he’s stupid, but because he’s smart. He thinks about things logically, he understands things easily, he doesn’t understand genius-level crap, and he’s a /cool guy/. This is not only the person that most of us are, but the person that all of us want to be. Of course, he also looks like someone who likes wearing kilts and smoking beer, but OH WELL

Eh, let me wrap this whole thing up with:


P.S. OH MY FUCK 2184 words

6 responses

  1. Now if only the soon-to-be-anime will be on par with the manga’s level…

    I also started reading the light novels recently and like the much more detailed events from Kodoka’s perspective and thoughts XD

    2011/06/12 at 23:11

  2. Eh, reading in moonrunes or English? tbh I don’t like light novels, not to be literature-ist, but they seem very shallow with their depiction of events.

    I also hope the anime will be as good as the manga, though I already have a feeling it’s going to be even better…

    2011/06/12 at 23:36

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