We have ourselves a brand new series from Kodansha Comics by the name of Magatsuki (though the title on the front cover and binding calls it Maga-tsuki). I don’t know much about the manga or its creator, but let’s give it a shot.
Magatsuki Vol. 1 (Kodansha Comics)
Written and drawn by: Hoshino Taguchi
Translated by: Ko Ransom
Lettering by: AndWorld Design
Yasuke is your average 15 year old living in Japan. He lives at a shrine with his sister, a Shinto priestess of said shrine, and has a big crush on his old childhood friend, Akari. One day by accident, he breaks this sacred mirror at the shrine and unleashes the sealed goddess within it, Seoritsuhime (later called Orihime for short). She is the goddess of misfortune and when breaking her mirror, Yasuke has been cursed and must constantly hold onto her or else he dies. Wacky shenanigans and hijinks to follow.
The Initial Impression
I have read a lot of romantic comedies, harem comedies, and magical girlfriend series in my time: Love Hina, Negima, Pretty Face, Nisekoi, Girls Bravo, Midori Days, My Monster Secret, and the like. Magatsuki, from just reading the first volume, unfortunately doesn’t do much to separate itself from the crowd and feels like a very paint-by-numbers type of story. Even one of its more unique aspects, the goddesses, has kind of been done before with stuff like Oh My Goddess!, and been done much better.
But before discussing the problems, let’s talk about some positive points of the manga. For one, while the series definitely has familiar and done-to-death comedy tropes, there are moments in the book that are funny. Whether it be new twists or just very good execution of old jokes, I found plenty of chuckle worthy moments. They were usually scattered throughout the book and not as plentiful as they should have been, but they were there. Chapter 2 was the highlight of the volume, with a lot of good gags revolving around Yasuke having to bring Orihime to his school and try to hide the situation going on between the two. I especially love the scene with them trying to figure out how to use the restroom in a crowded school.
There are also some other small, decent bits to the manga throughout the volume. Yasuke’s sister, Miyano Arahabaki, was probably best character in the bunch. While some of her actions are questionable, she is presented as being rather smart and clever and provides some of the better moments regarding the comedy. The scene where she manages to convince Yasuke’s school to allow Orihime in and makes an excuse for why the two cannot be apart is a great example of all three of those aspects. It’s absurd and contrived, but this being an absurd and odd world, it works and makes enough sense. I do like how both Yasuke and Orihime can’t be physically away from each other and some of the humor that stems from it. It sort of reminds me of some moments from the Oh My Goddess! anime with the leads having to stay together, though this book took that to more of an extreme. I did like Amaterasu when she was first introduced and some of the conflict she brought, saying how Orihime had to return to her world. Sure, it was a bit disappointing that she wasn’t a dog like in Okami (and not even a pop star like in The Wicked + The Divine), but hey, she initially seemed interesting.
Lastly, the artwork itself I found to be alright. While it doesn’t leave much of an impression and some of the characters have these dead and pupil-less eyes, none of it is awful or ugly. The characters look fine (though a lot of the female characters have the same face), the layouts are easy to follow, and some of the more fantastical elements look good. There are some positives to this manga to be sure.
That being said, this is a very dull and standard comedy harem series. It doesn’t really offer anything all that unique, any real fun twists on the tropes and clichés (at best, it takes some aspects from other series and just makes them more extreme), and there’s not a lot going on. Besides having the leads stuck to each other and someone’s appearance later on, there was little plot going on throughout the first volume. The characters just get into wacky situations and have all sorts of misunderstandings and miscommunication that ends up causing problems, which is so irritating to read. Those moments always artificially extend things and make the characters look like idiots. Sometimes points like that can work, like in Nisekoi on occasion, if they are backed up with good comedy. However, most of the comedy is not particularly funny outside of Chapter 2 and when Miyano is around, just doing crap that’s been overdone for so long. It’s so predictable and clichéd most of the time. Reading the book feels very tiring, especially after getting done with books like Yamada and the Seven Witches and My Monster Secret, which are much more clever at using its tropes and making its characters so much fun.
Since I mentioned it, let’s talk about the characters. Besides Miyano, everyone is stock harem comedy character. Yasuke is the slightly perverted, but otherwise normal main character who finds himself in an odd situation and doesn’t know how to handle it. Akari is the childhood best friend who Yasuke is crushing on (and she secretly is crushing on him) with a temper and harsh exterior a lot of the time, but also is secretly warm and sweet on the inside. Orihime is the magical girl character who is clueless to the world and its own rules, for the most part, and often causes problems that she did not intend due to her naive innocence. Then lastly, we have Amaterasu, who seemed interesting initially. She’s Orihime’s sister, who cares about getting her home where she belongs because Orihime’s own powers could cause problems for the world. However, it turns out that she is the standard little sister character who cares way too much about her big sister and is very possessive of her, very immature, and… well looks like a little girl. Everyone here is such a cliché and there’s very little progression here that makes them unique or memorable in any way.
Magatsuki Vol. 1 leaves a lot to be desired. While not completely devoid of bright spots and comedy, this is a very typical and formulaic harem comedy with little done to make it stand out. The story is almost nonexistent, most of the humor is predictable or falls flat, and the characters lack personality to go beyond being a cookie cutter stereotype you always find in this genre. I cannot recommend this one, especially when there are so many series out there that are better, like Niseoki, Yamada-kun, or My Monster Secret.