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All-Purpose Chemistry Club, Vol. 1

Welcome the latest midweek manga review from yours truly! This week I’ll be looking at All-Purpose Chemistry Club, Vol. 1 from DMP, but first some news…

And now onto this weeks review of All-Purpose Chemistry Club, Vol. 1!

All Purpose Chemistry Club, Vol. 1All-Purpose Chemistry Club, Vol. 1
by Sho Hidaka
DMP/Emanga.com, 210 pp
Rating: Teen (13 +)

Sho Hidaka’s All-Purpose Chemistry Club, Vol. 1 is, ostensibly, a romantic comedy about Ipponsugi Kaede, a high school student with a crush on his classmate Akiyama Momiji. In the hopes of wooing her and winning her affections he joins a club she’s in which is… odd. Lead by a hooded student known only as “Boss” the club leads him to wacky encounters with ghosts, aliens, rampaging komodo dragons and more. With so much insanity and seemingly random occurrences, will romance bloom for our beleaguered hero and heroine?

This is a series for folks who like their manga to make very little sense. The first volume is full of fourth wall breaking, hyper kinetic over reactions, chibified comedy bits and just about anything else that springs into Sho Hidaka’s mind. Supposedly at the core of non-stop jokes is a love story, but that’s usually lost amid the torrent of fast paced humor and running gags that occupy most of the page time. As a result, none of the characters have any kind of personality beyond a single quirk or two. In fairness, these quirks are pretty strongly defined and it’s Hidaka does little to deviate from the formula he sets out early in this volume. Kaede is the guy who’s hopelessly in love with Momiji, who in turn is fairly oblivious to this and basically just serves as the love interest, while Boss is a good natured, hooded prankster who torments Kaede and just about anyone else he can.Page from All Purpose Chemistry Club, Vol. 1

Sho Hidaka’s artwork suits the manga pretty well, in that it’s also full of reoccurring gags and something of a mess. The pages are crammed to bursting with panels, speed lines and toning to the point where you’ll probably feel tired from just trying to keep up with everything. Exaggerated perspective is used time and time against for comedic overreactions. Word bubbles, unbubbled text, sound effects and other text vie for readers attention amongst a sea of shojo dot effects, overlapping images and more. All of which makes this an incredibly busy, and messy looking book. The cluttered visuals aren’t helped any by the fact that this is Sho Hidaka’s freshmen outing, meaning his art’s a bit generic and many of his characters look exactly alike, making it difficult to tell them apart, with the exception of Boss thanks to his ever present hood. This is at it’s worst during the second half of the volume which is made up of some of short stories he did prior to winning the manga contest that landed him this gig. Strangely enough though, I think those pages might be the least cluttered and messy in the whole book.

All in all, All-Purpose Chemistry Club, Vol. 1 is a rough, rough read. It’s a mess of a gag manga, but given that it’s Sho Hidaka’s first profession gig I suppose we should expect it to be a bit rough around the edges. Japanese humor can be a hard sell for me and despite a few moments that got a smile out of me, this book mostly fell flat on it’s face. If wacky Japanese humor appeals to you though and you’re looking for some fast paced, goofy nonsense, then this might just be what you need.

All-Purpose Chemistry Club, Vol. 1 is available now from Digital Manga Publishing and Emanga.com. Digital review copy provided by the publisher.

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