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Kimagure Orange Road, Vol. 1

Welcome to another midweek manga review! This week I’ll be looking at 1980s romantic comedy, Kimagure Orange Road, Vol. 1, but first, there’s quite a bit of news out of New York ComiCon from this past weekend…

And now, the midweek manga review of Kimagure Orange Road, Vol. 1!

Kimagure Orange Road, Vol. 1Kimagure Orange Road, Vol. 1
by Izumi Matsumoto
DMP/Emanga, 176 pp
Rating: Teen (13 +)

Originally created in the mid 80s, Izumi Matsumoto’s Kimagure Orange Road blends psychic powers, high school life, and teenage romance into a series that, as Jason Thompson put it in his House of 1000 Manga column, “was THE archetypal shonen rom-com”. Now, thanks to DMP and Emanga, this classic series is available for the first time in the US, and we’re finally able to take a look at the romantic misadventures of the love triangle made up of the secret psychic Kyosuke, the energetic tom-boyish Hikaru, and her best friend, the cool and aloof Ayukawa!

Despite the opening of the series playing up Kyosuke’s psychic powers, for the most part they’re relegated to a background element for much of the first volume. Instead, Matsumoto spends much of the volumes focusing on Kyosuke’s attempts to get closer to the mercurial Ayukawa, only for things to go quickly go wrong as he finds himself in a burgeoning relationship with her best friend, Hikaru. It’s a fairly typical high school romantic comedy full of mix ups, misunderstandings and hijinks galore. Much of the comedy comes from the relationship mix ups, along with various folks teasing and misunderstanding Kyosuke’s explanations or misinterpreting events. It never comes off as forced or awkward, and fits in naturally with the tone of the story. Admittedly, this is only the first volume, and it does do a good job at cutting right to the meat of the matter by establishing the love triangle pretty early on, but beyond that it just doesn’t feel like there’s much to the series right now. The love triangle is about as classic a love triangle as you can get, best friends confused and misunderstanding their feelings towards the same guy, with one suppressing her own desires in an attempt to be a good friend instead; something that will clearly lead to more drama, tension and comedic mishaps as the series progresses. One of the things that was a bit surprising in this volume, was the amount of missing words in the translation. On more than one occasion sentences start out alright, but then a word is clearly missing which causes one to stumble over the dialogue and pause, wondering if they imagined the missing word. Hopefully this isn’t something that’ll carry over into future volumes.

Kimagure Orange Road Page

80s Japan Disco Fashion!

Visually it’s clearly a dated book. The layouts are surprisingly restrained, mostly keeping to grid like patterns and eschewing the more common and over done tricks such as overlapping panels, tons of toning, bleeding images and more. The result is that Kimagure Orange Road is a very simple and easy to follow book visually. With a cast full of high schoolers, it’s not a surprise that much of the story features them clad in their school uniforms, but thankfully there are a few times they’re sporting a more casual look giving us a chance to luxuriate in mid 80s Japanese fashion! The characters themselves are fairly simplistic in design, but the main trio look different enough It’s also worth mentioning that Matsumoto does a nice job at imbuing Hikaru’s more energetic personality into her tom-boyish appearance.

While I’m not entirely taken by Kimagure Orange Road, I don’t dislike it either. There’s something fascinating about seeing a series from this period, especially one as influential as this apparently was. Early signs of what would evolve into the tsundere character type are already evident within Ayukawa, and the love triangle uses a set up that’s classic regardless of the country the series is from. The only real problem is how dated it feels. At one point this might have been cutting edge material, but now, decades later, instead of feeling fresh or innovative it just feels a bit too cliche. I’ll certainly be looking forward to other volumes of the series, and hopefully it’ll click with me as it goes on, but tight now it strikes me as an enjoyable but light read.

Kimagure Orange Road, Vol. 1 is now available digitally from DMP and Emanga.com.

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  1. October 16, 2014 at 8:43 am
  2. October 18, 2014 at 2:47 pm

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