From the stack: Dengeki Daisy vol. 1

When running through the winners of this year’s About.Com Manga Readers’ Choice Awards, I realized I hadn’t actually reviewed the first volume of Kyousuke Motomi’s Dengeki Daisy (Viz). Since I expressed puzzlement over its win in the shôjo category over two very superior titles, I thought I should go into more detail. To be honest, I can’t muster much. It’s solid enough, but I find it lacking in some essential ways.

It’s about an orphan named Teru whose older brother has died. She finds solace in communication with a mysterious person named “Daisy” who texts her via a cell phone Teru’s brother left her. Teru gets grief from her well-to-do classmates, but she holds her own. She does wind up in service to the school’s weird handyman when she breaks a window, but the handyman, Kurosaki, is concealing a protective streak towards his indentured minion. Could this jerky loner be the mysterious Daisy?

I was surprised at how little mileage Motomi got out of that question, to be honest. She seems more interested in moving into a narrative groove where Teru acts impulsively, gets into trouble, is saved by Daisy, and doesn’t realize that her taskmaster is also her text-message angel. It’s sad that Teru’s spunk only goes so far and that she’s so prone to requiring rescue. It’s also one of my pet peeves when a character withholds knowledge that could empower another and enable them to make better choices but doesn’t.

It’s conceivable that Kurosaki could have a persuasive reason to keep Teru in the dark, but it feels very by-the-numbers by volume’s end. I admit I would find it a tough sell under any circumstances. It’s hard to invest much in the series when the driving relationship is unsatisfying and, in my opinion, badly constructed.

But I’d love to hear from Dengeki Daisy partisans, especially if they feel the problems I have with the series are mitigated in later volumes. What say you?

Comments

  1. I have to admit that I don’t love this series as much as a lot of people do but I can see that it has potential to become better as the story develops. I have read the three volumes that have been released by VIZ Media and it is starting to grow on me and making me looking forward to what will happen next. Kurosaki is the one I am interested in the most. I hate to say this but I didn’t like Teru much. She is not that bad of a character but I don’t really care much for her.

    I like about this series that the main characters are not lovey dovey and that it is not your typical shoujo. Typical, predictable love stories bore me.

    I also found it a bit surprising that the first volume of the series won in the shoujo category. I was expecting either Natsume’s Book of Friends or The Story of Saiunkoku to win. I voted for the latter. Well, I guess people like this type of shoujo more.

  2. I’ll link you to my somewhat spoilerish review of the first volume on GoodReads – I have read six volumes in scanlation, otherwise I also would never have bought a shoujo romance so obviously cliché at the start. Kimi ni Todoke is far better for school shoujo romance. Saiunkoku Monogatari is a better shoujo, but obviously not known well enough.

  3. I love Dengeki Daisy, but I can really see where you’re coming from and why that might put you off. In all honesty, I think I originally liked this manga because of my love for Suzue Miuchi’s Garasu no Kamen and it’s treatment of the Daddy-Long-Legs type character. At the time, I had recently read a LOT of 1970s and 1980s shoujo manga where this character is particulary popular. You know, a young (usually orphan) girl who is down on her luck has a mysterious protector/benefactor who works from the shadows, etc. He was usually a handsome and wealthy (sometimes older) man and at the end of the story the herione would discover his identity and they would, more often than not, get together (although they didn’t in Candy Candy which is another notable use of this character type).

    Glass Mask really made it interesting in that her benefactor was also a villain and the audiencce watches over him create his alter-ego and pull off his “acts of kindness” (which in that series were more like acts of atonement) and the trials he goes through to keep that secret, just as we watched the herione become encouraged by his kindess. And that sense, Dengeki Daisy is a interesting take on that kind of story which used to be so popular in Japan. Like in Glass Mask, the hero isn’t always the nicest person to the heroine for the sake of keeping his secret (although he isn’t a villain) and we watch him as he watches over her. But in this case, Dengeki Daisy uses technology as a valuable tool. “Daisy” is a virtual identity and inventions like cellphones and internet only add to his anonymity. His aid is also in virtual form, from the loving text messages he sends Teru to his attacks on enemies through hacking.

    Although this is just my personal opinion, Teru may be the protagonist of the manga, but Kurosaki is the hero (whether this is good or bad depends on the person). Later on, the manga focuses more and more on Kurosaki’s past and present and the “plot” is intimately tied up in his character (although the manga is always from Teru’s point of view and Kursaki become more and more physically absent). It is not for nothing that he’s the titular character after all. A lot of characters (the adults, including Master who has already appeared at this point) show up in later volumes who offer aid to Teru, but they are primarily there for Kurosaki and it’s their realitionships with Kurosaki that make them important to the series (with the exception of Riko is there for both Teru and Kurosaki equally).

    From that perspective, it is Teru who is the “love interest” character, not Kurosaki, and she’s actually very well-rounded from that standpoint. In addition to being Kurosaki’s object of affection, various parts of her character from her personality to her family relationships and personal circumstances all reflect on Kurosaki and his personal journay (and i can’t really say what I mean without spoiling the whole thing).

    I guess what I mean to say is that perhaps I like Dengeki Daisy because I’m looking at it from different angle than you are. I completly understand what you’re saying and I whole-heartedly agree that Dengeki Daisy has it’s share of problems especially in the earlier volumes when their personal relationship is even more unequal than what the age difference might imply and what is relfecting later in the manga. All I can say is, Dengeki Daiy does have it’s audience and I hope they take the chance to enjoy it.

    • David Welsh says:

      Thank you so much for offering such a thoughtful response to my rather off-the-cuff review. I think it really is just a matter of personal taste in how one likes to see relationships framed in a story and what kind of level of agency one likes to see the characters display.

      And it’s not like it’s Black Bird or anything. ;-)

      • No, thank you for giving it your honest opinion. Looking back, this volume wasn’t really all that great, and you’re right that Natsume’s Book of Friends, and I’m assuming you mean The Story of Saiunkoku and not Stepping on Roses, are far better manga. But I think Dengeki Daisy has its own merits and entertainment value. Take Ceres: Celestial Legend for example. It’s not the best manga, but in addition to it’s face value etertainment, it has a lot of interesting ideas when it comes to genre and use of character, which is something that I think it shares with Dengeki Daisy.

        Augh, Black Bird. Remind me again why this won the Shogakukan Award? Despite its problematic relationship between the leads and the message it’s sending to young girls, it’s not completely without merit, but still. This got chosen over all the other shoujo manga being released by Shogakukan at the time? In my opinion, Piece and Umimachi Diary got robbed.

    • You said the real good points much better than I did. You should put this up on GoodReads or Amazon, if you haven’t already ^^.

      • Thank you! Looking at it right now, I’m actually kind of embarassed. Commenting at 2 in the morning is not the best time to write coherent thoughts and decent grammar. The amount of typos in this makes my head spin. They really need to to have an Edit option for comments on these things.

        • Actually I was so fascinated by your observations – which clarified a lot of what I like about the series and where I think it is going strongest, too – that I must have overread the typos ^^. I love GoodReads for the ability to indefinitely edit all your comments and posts, I have to say. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if people abused that ability, too.

        • @shelby: would love to read more of your opinion pieces. if you read this comment please put up a link to your blog, goodreads profile or wherever it is you write reviews!

  4. I’ve been thinking a lot about this title and the issue of Teru needing to be rescued, and I realized that it doesn’t bother me as much as it does with other shoujo manga because Teru actually does ask “Daisy” for help and support. While in comparison, the love interests in S.A. and Maid Sama insist on protecting and rescuing the heroines even when both girls explicitly state that they don’t want any help and seem pretty capable of defending themselves. Usui in Maid Sama actually tells Misaki several times, “Don’t forget that you’re only a girl,” which absolutely infuriates me! But I feel like it’s okay for Kurosaki/Daisy to help Teru since she’s the one who asked for his help, if that makes sense.

    Kurosaki keeping Teru in the dark kind of bugged me at first, too, but there are major hints in books 2 and 3 as to why he’s doing it.

  5. What I liked about it was how Kurosaki has the two sides of his personality (I dont think it would be much of streach to call him a male tsundere.) In wich he’ll be a jerk in front of Teru than ematinally laciratew himself for being in love with her the sort of outward harshness and inward brokness makes for an intresting dichotmy and Teru is an intresting herione in that she’s not a complete door mat and the kind of bickering back and forth between her and Kurosaki is intresting to watch becuese they both secretelly like eachother but they dont want to admit it to the other. But than again maybe that’s more of a focus on volumes two thru three I thought volume one established the charcters well.


Trackbacks

  1. [...] (Playback:stl) Naomi Fry on The Complete Peanuts, 1979-1980 (The Comics Journal) David Welsh on vol. 1 of Dengeki Daisy (The Manga Curmudgeon) Johanna Draper Carlson on Ivy (Comics Worth Reading) Karen Maeda on vol. 1 [...]

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