Hey, Kaushik here, and welcome to another manga review. Kure-nai is what’s up for review this week, and it’s recently been fully translated. Like a lot of works recently, this is originally based off a light novel. However, it has proved somewhat successful and consequently received both a manga and anime adaptation. While I was a fan of the anime adaptation, today I’m reviewing the manga version simply because it has been finished recently. The manga ran from November 2007 to June 2012, and was written by the same person behind the original light novel, Kentarou Katayama. It was collected in 10 volumes, but during its serialization it was serialized in the magazine Jump Square, a monthly shounen magazine.
The main character of this story is Kurenai Shinkuro, a young high school boy with something of a tragic past. While he does go to high school like most boys his age, he also has a job has a “dispute mediator”, working under a professional named Juuzawa Benika. The terms of the job are somewhat vague, but essentially it’s just as it sounds. When there’s a dispute, Shinkuro can be hired to help solve it. Of course, a lot of the time this involves combat of some sort, and Shinkuro’s no slouch when it comes to fighting. Though he’s still young, he’s built up an impressive name as an effective dispute mediator.
A young girl named Kuhouin Murasaki is put into Shinkuro’s care by Juuzawa Benika, and she is the other main character to this story. As she’s just seven, there’s understandably plenty of wacky situations involving Shinkuro’s less-than-scrupulous neighbors and Murasaki’s innocent mind. Murasaki comes from a very wealthy family and as a result she’s incredibly sheltered. Being with Shinkuro allows her to live the “commoner” life as she calls it, and she’s also very fond of Shinkuro.
The plot deals mostly with the daily life of these two and their friends, but with several major story arcs thrown in the way. Some of the major arcs include a confrontation with Murasaki’s family (who don’t seem to approve of the life she has with Shinkuro), a sordid past with a new friend, and one heck of an evil company. While it’s an action series, there’s a good bit of drama and comedy as well, so there’s a lot for everyone to enjoy. Of course Shinkuro has pretty much every girl gunning for his affection, but as the main character he remains delightfully oblivious to it all. Clichéd it might be, but for some reason that kind of material still draws me in.
Some of the other characters include Houzuki Yuuno, a girl around Shinkuro’s age who has known him since he was young. After a horrible incident took away his parents, Juuzawa Benika (Shinkuro’s savior) took him to the Houzuki family’s martial arts practice to become stronger. Yuuno has also been practicing her family’s martial arts and has shown herself many times to be just as strong, if not stronger, than Shinkuro himself. It’s a little funny how in a series with so much action and combat, the main character isn’t close to the strongest character. Both Yuuno and Benika are stated to be stronger, and many others can be assumed stronger as well. Still, Yuuno is head over heels for her childhood friend Shinkuro, though obviously he has no idea because he’s as perceptive as a rock.
One of the last main characters is another one of Shinkuro’s childhood friends, Murakami Ginko. A straight-laced bespectacled girl, it’s often her job to give Shinkuro new jobs and to keep him on the straight and narrow. Her grandfather was one of the most talented information brokers out there, and she is heir to that knowledge. She uses it to find Shinkuro jobs and generally support him on his missions the best she can. Of course she’s romantically interested in him (who wouldn’t be?) but unlike Yuuno she’s a bit more subtle about it. Of course, she wears glasses so she’s obviously my favorite character!
One of my favorite parts about the Kure-nai manga is the art. Something about the art and character design looks very sharp and generally pleasant to look at. The color pages look ridiculously awesome. I will say that the characters themselves, particularly their faces, are somewhat distinct in this style and maybe some people won’t like that (I’ve had a few friends remark to me that the art was even scary!) but I for one am a huge fan. The original light novel illustrator, Yamato Yamamoto, is behind the art for the manga as well. It’s interesting how the original author-illustrator pair for the light novel got together to do the manga release, since to my knowledge a lot of manga adaptations to light novels are generally done by different people. But it does lend a certain authenticity to the manga as its own work that I appreciate as someone who can’t easily access the original light novels.
Over-all the Kure-nai manga was a pretty enjoyable read. I won’t say that it was a groundbreaking work in its uniqueness or that I’ll never read anything like it, because, quite honestly, it sounds just a little generic. Still, I find that just because it follows somewhat of a generic formula doesn’t mean it’s bad. After all, for so many people to copy it, it must’ve started as something good, right? And some of those copies have to hit the mark from time to time. Kure-nai feels like one of those pieces. While it doesn’t offer anything exceptional, it works well in its predictability and I appreciate it for that.
— A fun read from start to finish, not really a dull moment to be found.
— Cute and interesting characters.
— Some cool action.
— Nothing particularly amazing going on for this series
— Boils down to a fairly generic shounen work (albeit done well!)
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