Okay, I wanted to do more manga reviews, so here I am. As a note, I have not read all of this (just what’s out in English through various means) and from what I understand, it’s still going on. I’ve read something like five volumes of it, though, and so I’ll only review up to that much. So, some background information. Shitsuji-sama no Okiniiri is a shoujo manga by Izawa Rei. I don’t know anything else she’s done, but she’s certainly done a great job on this work. It’s a shoujo manga, which means it’s for girls. Yeah, I’m not really part of the target demographic, but shoujo manga has always been my guilty pleasure. And this is one of my favorites. So let’s run through it piece by piece.
Starting with the plot. Well, it’s kind of a typical shoujo manga plot? It’s not that it’s overdone or anything, but if you read a lot of shoujo, this plot wouldn’t strike you as something fresh. So the main character, Himura Ryou, is more or less a normal girl who’s put in an extraordinary circumstance (aren’t they always, in shoujo?) . Her parents have just died (for some reason lack of parents is just common in manga in general) and because her grandparents are extraordinarily wealthy, she’s sent to a very expensive boarding school for the wealthy and famous. Unfortunately, Ryou is not used to being either, so she’s kind of a fish out of water in this new school. She tries her best to fit in (as only an energetic girl like herself can) but finds little familiarity in the school. She does happen to meet one Kanzawa Hakuou as she gets lost in the school. He’s a dashing sorta guy in the way only shoujo can really do. Clearly excels at every single thing he does, and modest to boot. Yes, for most people that kind of hero can get a little tiring, but what can I say. I eat it up.
Anyway, Ryou learns that the school has two separate classes, L and B. The L class is essentially for Lords and Ladies such as herself, who get into the school via financial means. The B class, or Butler class, is entirely merit-based and takes only the best of the best (guess which class Hakuou is in?). Now, a standing tradition in the school is that, from time to time, people from the L class will take students from the B class to be their personal butler. Due to a small altercation with some bullies, Ryou finds herself in need of a personal butler. And of course, in pure shoujo style, at the last minute Hakuou comes to sweep her off her feet. Of course, he’s the most desirable guy in the school, and now he’s Ryou’s personal butler. As you can probably tell, this fulfills some sort of deep rooted fantasy I’m sure the author has about having her own hot personal butler or something to that effect. Anywho, the story continues from their, detailing the trials and tribulations Hakuou and Ryou face together, along with their eventual blossoming romance. Shoujo is pretty much always like that.
Moving onto the characters. The main character his Himura Ryou, and if you’re familiar with shoujo (or really a lot of manga in general) you’ll probably recognize her character. Earnest, spunky, and an all-around energetic girl. She tries her hardest, fails sometimes, but will always get back up to give it another go. Yes, I think she’s a fairly generic character, but there’s just something about her. I don’t know, maybe I have a thing for the earnest girls. Like Ohana from Hanasaku Iroha. Anyway, there’s honestly not much more depth to her character. Or any character in this, from what I read. The other main character is who I assume will be Ryou’s significant other, Kanzawa Hakuou. The immaculate shoujo male lead, he’s pretty much perfect in everything. Honestly, there’s not much more to his character either. He’s heir to a giant company and could have been in the L class if he wanted, but instead preferred to join the merit-based B class. I know I gave really barebones descriptions of the characters, and honestly that’s how they feel to me when I think about it.
As for the art… Okay. I don’t know anything about the technical side of art, as you may or may not know about me. I couldn’t tell you if proportions are right or wrong, or that hand has six fingers (I’d honestly probably miss that if no one pointed it out to me) or not. All I can tell you is that I like what I like, and there are certain styles I’ll prefer. For example, in anime I generally really like the washed out kind of pastel-y colors of shows like Aoi Hana or Hourou Musuko. As far as Shitsuji-sama no Okiniiri is concerned, I really enjoy the art. I think the character designs are cute and the outfits are nice. The art strikes me as really crisp and a pleasure to look at (even moreso to read). And that’s all I have to say here.
Okay, for the most part I’ve just been talking this manga down, when in all honesty I really really love it. And looking at each of the parts of it individually, maybe it’s not so great. But I think the author really ties it together well and presents a really fun story. So maybe the characters individually aren’t so great. But I think Ryou and Hakuou’s interactions are really fun to watch, they play off each other well. The plot may be nothing to write home about but the setting is just a little bit more than your normal school story and I think the plot benefits from that, coupled with Ryou and Hakuou. Additionally, I’m really fond of the art. A big issue in manga can be the pacing, especially from panel to panel. This is especially true in action manga, so it doesn’t apply as strongly here. Still, Izawa Rei manages to keep the panels fairly orderly and there’s a clear line of action from page to page. While that should be expected, there are some manga that won’t do it, so I’m considering that a point in its favor. Essentially, I think Izawa Rei manages to bring together several disparate and maybe generic elements in her story to be something just a little bit better, and something I quite enjoy. For that reason, this is my favorite shoujo manga (ongoing, anyway).