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Kotoura-San, Vol. 3

Kotoura-San, Vol. 3Kotoura-San, Vol. 3
By Enokids
DMP/Emanga, 138 pp
Rating: Teens (13 +)

Kotoura and her friends struggle to deal with their involvement in a string of killings and come up with a plan to aid the police investigation. Time waits for no man or woman however, and Summer is fast approaching with its promise of fun in the sun… Assuming that Kotoura and her friends survive that long, that is! After the surprisingly dark turn of Kotoura-San, Vol. 2 with the introduction of a serial killer plot line, Enokids slowly begins to turn things down a notch as he returns to the series’ adorable, relationship based, comedic roots in Kotoura-San, Vol. 3!

The last volume of Kotoura-San saw some truly surprising developments as the story took an incredibly dark turn with the introduction of a serial killer plot line. Given how much of the focus had until then been on creating a sense of cute, simple and warmth, such a turn was something of a shocker. While the serial killer story remains much of the focus for Kotoura-San, Vol. 3, it’s abrupt and unsatisfying conclusion haunts the rest of the volume and left me scratching my head in confusion. Did something happen behind the scenes in the production of the series? Did Enokids simply have that ending in mind all the time? Did his editor look at what a huge tonal departure this plot was from the rest of the series and put the kibosh on it? I’d love to know, because it easily has one of the most anti-climatic resolutions that I’ve come across in recent memory. Following that unsatisfying climax, the book gradually returns to it’s adorable roots, as the focus returns to things such as dating problems and the ins and outs of Kotoura’s relationship with Manabe. This aspect of the volume felt like it was playing up Kotoura’s helplessness or shyness a bit more than usual, transitioning from being cute and warm to eyerolling-ly annoying at times. The beach trip story in particular rubbed me the wrong way with it’s depiction of how helpless and incapable she was. Page from Kotoura-San, Vol. 3

Despite the darker turn the series takes in this volume, Enokids maintains the same stripped down, simplistic and adorable art style he always uses. He never really veers away from the 4-koma layouts, though the few deviations here and there for side stories or chapter breaks are a welcome change from the monotony of the 4 panel column that dominates the series. Sadly, the wonderful Shojo-esque opening sequence from volume two doesn’t return and instead we’re treated to a fairly typical recap and short intro strip instead. It’s kind of a shame because that one break from the in house Kotoura-San style was quite fun, and the unexpectedness of it made it a pleasant and enjoyable treat. There aren’t a ton of new characters introduced in this volume as Enokids keeps the cast small with only the introduction of Yoshihiro Manabe’s brother to really shake things up. His initial design reminded me of a 1960s hippy or anti-war protestor and contrasted nicely with the rest of the young cast, but it doesn’t stay for long as he quickly transitions into a more typical office worker look for most of his stay. His introduction does provide some much needed movement in the Moritani/Kotoura/Manabe love triangle though.

Kotoura-San, Vol. 3 is a real mixed bag. Enokids wraps up the shocking plot line in an incredibly unsatisfying manner before largely returning things to status quo for the remainder of the volume. While the typical Kotoura-San hijinks are enjoyable enough, the volume is haunted by the quick and disappointing resolution to the serial killer story and, as a result, the rest of the volume suffers because of it. It’s enjoyable enough, but after the unexpected direction the story took, a return to the usual is just something of a letdown.

Kotoura-San, Vol. 3 is available now from Digital Manga Publishing and Emanga.com. Digital review copy provided by the publisher.

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