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?