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Review: Ichiroh! (Vol. 01)

Reviewer: Marsha Reid

Manga-ka: Mikage
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: May (16+)
Release Date: July 2009

Synopsis: “Nanako and her two best friends, Akane and Shino, have been in the same class since elementary school. Now with the entrance exam just around the corner, the girls have big plans for spending their college years together as well. Unfortunately, those big plans hinged on all three of them passing their exams…Now Nanako and Akane are ichiroh, first-year students at the local prep school. Nanako is determined to do better next year, but it’s going to be a real challenge — the bossy dorm/shrine manager puts the pair to work as miko, Akane can’t kick her video game addiction, and the neighbor’s pranks are getting out of hand! With all this nonsense, Nanako will be lucky to get any studying done!”

Nanako is a young girl with big dreams of going to college. Unfortunately, it becomes apparent that there are several forces working against her; mainly her friends, family, and life in general, but nothing holds her back like her penny pinching ways. Poor Nanako finds herself in more trouble by trying to save a dime than her lecherous brother or Akane’s video game addiction could ever get her in.

The series is titled Ichiroh because this is Nanako’s first year as a ‘ronin’, someone who did not pass the collage entrance exam. I was completely confused for a long time about the meaning of the word Ichiroh, and it wasn’t until I remembered Yen Press puts language stuff in the back, that I found out how it worked. Frankly, when I saw the break down of the word I did a face palm. For anyone who’s studying japanese this might be painful:

Ichi = “One” and Ronin = “Masterless samurai” (literally). In modern day the same word is used to describe ‘school less student’ which would be anyone who failed either collage entrance exams.

Roh is the english way of spelling the first sound in Ronin. So we put the two words together, Ichi+Roh and imply some sentence structure, we get “First year out of school”. If you think of prep school like summer school you’ll get the gist of why it doesn’t really count as actually being in the educational system. This is where the -taught myself by watching too much anime- Japanese lesson ends.

The characters are fairly stereotypical of four panel style comics. Each has a single personality trait, which they live by. The gamer girl is always gaming, the shy one will forever be shy, and the predatorial lesbian… well, you get the point. Some of their designs are a little weird though, like what is up with Shino’s front ringlets? I’ve seen them before, and they seem to be a mark of way to much money. Maybe that’s because only rich people can afford to have hair next to their face, which is the same size as their entire head. Akane has flicky bits, which look like cat ears most of the time, but it’s actually pretty cute so I approve.

The story pulls itself along by introducing new characters occasionally, because lets face it, studying is boring. Each new face adds their own bit of chaos, and distraction, to the mix, furthering Nanako from her goal. It’s nice to put the brainpowers on the back burner and let the story read itself. There’s no hidden sub plots or twisted back-stories. All that matters is what’s happening in this small box right now. They don’t have the space to be more complicated than that.

I’ve diagnosed Ichiroh! with mild oblivi-osis. This sometimes fatal (occasionally annoying) syndrome can be recognized easily when a main character completely refuses to realize everyone she comes in contact with is inexplicably in love with her. Ichiroh!‘s infection is mild since Nanako only seems to be unaware of the unnatural affections of her brother and friend Shino. For a girl who’s supposed to be smart, she’s painfully naïve of their glaring stalker-like tendencies. It makes me wonder if she’s really meant for higher education. Maybe she’ll smarten up in the next issue!

Review written June 22, 2009 by Marsha Reid
Book provided by Yen Press for review purposes

Marsha Reid

About the Author:

Marsha Reid is a self-proclaimed manhwa nut – "It’s my not so guilty pleasure and my one true love." She has a group called Anime@ Large, which has become much like a full time job to go along with her full time job at a local theater. Marsha likes fluffy animals (even though she's allergic), manga/manhwa, anime, and make Lolita costumes in her spare time.

Kuriousity does not condone or support the illegal distribution of manga online.
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