As I reflect back upon this year’s spring anime, I think about the bottom 2 anime on my list – Sofutenni and A Channel. The former, I just found impossible to find interesting; and the latter I just loathed with every fibre of my being. Anyway, both have the similar trait of having 4 girls as their characters and being adapted from a 4-koma – I’ll be focusing on the 4-koma aspect here.
I’m not discriminating against 4-koma adaptations- there are some that are among my favourite (K-On! And Working!!) but I never really got down to reading the manga itself. Honestly speaking, it has quite a lot to do with the 4-koma style – the plain, 4 panel boxes and the very ordinary pacing that comes along with it. This is made especially more since I’m used to the flashy slashy jumpy panels with my shounen manga. Stories that I would usually like a lot end up being liked only a little, which I find is such a huge shame.
So I tried something kinda of 4-koma ish, but not exactly a 4-koma. I started with Sonna Mirai wa Uso De Aru, also known as That Future is a Lie.
Sonna Mirai wa Uso De Aru (そんな未来はウソである) / That Future is a Lie
Manga-ka: Sakuraba Koharu
Genre: School life, Shounen, Supernatural
A girl who can see the future. Another girl who knows if what you’re telling is true or not.
For anyone out there who’s in more or less the same predicament as me, I think this is a good step forward (especially if you found the characters in A Channel absolutely intolerable). The two female leads are pretty typical of the 4-koma variety I know – pretty much ordinary girls, but there’s something different about each that would add to the 4-koma essence. That ‘something different’ doesn’t use the usual ingredient of having some outrageously quirky or moe personality – it’s in their special abilities of clairvoyance and lie-detection respectively.
Now here’s the thing – this isn’t actually a 4-koma. It’s a bit of a cheat, but I suppose 4-koma for beginners needs a starting point and this is as good a manga as any. The story style, pacing and characters are pretty 4-koma ish, and the panels are simple but not in the 4-koma style. It’ll get you in the mood.
Besides the whole 4-koma for Dummies thing, what I like about Sonna Mirai was Uso de Aru is how normal everything is on the surface. It’s a nice diversion from the usual precog = action HAIYAH! And lie-detection = drama SOB SOB SOB! kind of stories. The friendship between the two characters is really sweet, especially with the way they try not to get in the way of each other’s abilities. It is really like an everyday high school life story, except for the once or twice flash where their powers come into play.
Overall, a nice start for those trying to start enjoying 4-koma – the art may not be much, but the chapters are short and sweet so it’s still worth your time! =D
Now that we’ve done a bit of introductory 4-koma, let’s move on to the real stuff – and for that, I decided to choose Wa!
Manga-ka: Kojima Akira
Genre: Comedy, Romance, School life, Shounen
At Takamanohara School, lots of the students have crushes, but all on different people. In fact, if you trace out who likes who, it makes a full circle! This is the story of that circle of crushes.
What caught me first was the title is reminds me of the chapter titles for the Durarara! manga. I’m not much a love triangle/pentagon/chiliagon fan, but I thought – this is a 4-koma. It should be some straight, simple humour.
And it is.
I suppose it is here that I have witnessed the beauty of 4-koma. In other stories with the usual love complex theme, where excessive weeping and running added to a dash of stabbing and dying are common *ahemSchoolDaysahem*, the 4-koma template shines like a beacon.
What makes it a good step into the 4-koma world is how it isn’t too everyday-ish. It’s not like Nichijou where the whole timeline and plot seems stagnant from the present moment – there’s that sense of something actually happening as it would in the non 4-koma manga I usually read. The only difference would be the 4-koma style, which actually enhances the pacing rather than drag it down.
The whole set situation actually kinda reminds me of School Rumble – it’s just absolutely hilarious, for both the non-romantic (my favourite is definitely the student council president and her vice-president XD) and romantic (?) relationships. The 4-koma panelling adds a lot to the whole comedic setup; I’d say that it’s got a lot to do with the way so many things can happen in those 4 panels. It creates the sort of unexpected humour that just slaps you in the face at the end of the page where you just crack up.
Honestly speaking I never thought that I’d be able to appreciate 4-komas, but these 2 manga were really a nice step into the more plain panels in the manga world – give it a try! =D