Monday, January 10, 2011

Dengeki Daisy Volume 3

By Kyousuke Motomi. Released in Japan by Shogakukan, serialization ongoing in the magazine Bessatsu Comic ("Betsucomi"). Released in North America by Viz.

Another volume in the highly enjoyable Dengeki Daisy has come out, and the plot is moving quite fast. I was actually startled by the end of this volume, as one of the big plot points gets taken care of much faster than I expected. Except it doesn't really, of course. More on that later.

There's still lots of comedy here, mostly in the interaction when Tasuku decides to ramp up his 'jerk' side towards Teru. This is highly frustrating to her, of course, as she's suddenly realized at the end of the last volume that she's falling in love with him. That fact, actually, gets surprisingly little explicit acknowledgment here, even though it's clearly influencing Teru's actions. We can see it most in the first chapter, when Teru finally moves out of Tasuku's apartment and into an apartment shared with her guidance counselor (and Tasuku's old friend) Riko. There's a lot of stuff left unsaid in this series, with many things communicated by expression rather than words, and it works well, showing also that the artist has the skill to carry it through.

There is a nice pile of drama as well, of course. A lot of it relies on the fact that both leads have low opinions of themselves, and tend to wallow in the 'I don't deserve to be with them' mode that shoujo manga is so fond of. This can be justified at times - Teru being an underage high school student is brought up again and again, by both Tasuku and others, which adds a frisson of forbidden love to his actions, as it's clear much of the time that he has trouble keeping himself in control when he's around Teru. (We still don't know what his actual age is.) Meanwhile, Teru is still having issues recovering from her brother's death - it was raining at the time, and so she associated the weather with sadness - as well as her own conflicted feelings about both Tasuku and Daisy.

Teru continues to stride a fine line between cheerfully dense and savvy. She gets goaded into a stupid fight with some other girls, though it's implied that that's the weather's doing, and she'd never have done that with a clear head. More to the point, at one point she's actually kidnapped by one of 'the enemy', a colleague of her brother's who's looking for the secret data he hid. Teru even allows him to 'charge' her cell phone, whose batteries had run low... but then reveals that she's totally aware that he's searching her phone. (It's not there, by the way.) This also allows her kidnapper to be humanized a bit - in fact, Teru's noting that her brother told her that there's always someone that has to do the dirty work' manages to be both cynical AND idealistic at the same time, and probably sums up Teru very well.

And then there's the final chapter, which gives us a big reveal. This was done very cleverly, featuring a music box (and for those curious, yes, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Cyndi Lauper were in the original - in fact, Time After Time seems incredibly apropos for this couple) and a typhoon. The question now is how will Teru and Tasuku's relationship change because of this - Teru is simultaneously delighted and devastated, and it's another good example of the author's ability to capture facial expressions. Also, things are now reversed in a sense so that SHE is the one with the secret. The power balance between this couple is very entertaining - it has to remain with Teru most of the time, given their ages, but that doesn't always work out - and no doubt will shift again in Volume 4.

The shoujo romance and dramatic moments of this manga are excellent. However, I find that it's the mystery that I'm enjoying most. Dengeki Daisy is a technological thriller in the guise of a love comedy, and it's so far ahead of the author's previous work, Beast Master, that it's ridiculous. Can't wait for the next volume.

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