Prior to reading this, I had heard a tremendous amount of good things about Yasashii Sekai no Tsukurikata, or Gentle World, as I will now on refer to it. As skeptical as I am to praise, I went into this manga with an extra focus on asserting its flaws. However, the focus wasn’t necessary, as the most flawed aspect of this manga was front and center from the first couple of chapters, along with the reason it’s probably so adored.
Gentle World is a manga about a guy. This guy is no ordinary guy, but a genius, capable of working various scientific and mathematical algorithms with ease. He was originally working on unnamed theoretical research when funding was suddenly cut, forcing him to take up a teaching job at an all-girls high school by the request of an old friend. Within this school houses a number of female characters that will impact the guy’s life and teach him things about himself, others, and what he truly wants to do, even if it means sacrificing other priorities.
Aside from the side chapters, Gentle World is 31 chapters, with each chapter being roughly thirty to thirty-five pages long. With this in mind, do you believe this manga would be capable of developing and giving meaning to five different characters? If you guessed “No,” you’d be half-right. The characters within this manga are given sporadic amounts of importance and development, but not all at once and not all in one particular arc. This is where Gentle World is most effective as a story. A number of different things happen in each particular chapter, especially later on in the manga. It isn’t much like a one-road character arc where the plot only focuses on a single girl and their relationship with the male lead, but rather the characters are woven into a variety of mini-conflicts that are comfortably wedged into a large, overarching story. However, the more the manga continues, the more the overall story becomes less important. By story’s end, the original premise is just a blip in a chameleon-like plot that’s always transforming to suit the conflict surrounding certain characters.
While the way the story is told is refreshing, the plot development itself is comfortably stale. To clarify, the conflicts themselves are rather uncommon. Teacher-student relationships, dealing with being a gifted student in a normal high school; a number of different themes that are not entirely present in most stories involving high school. However, most of these plots are progressed in a cliché way. Just be honest. Just stay strong. Just go with your heart. Just let go. It’s almost disappointing to see how simply a lot of these conflicts can be settled, but the problems continue to linger due to a character’s inability to speak or think logically. At this point, this is nothing new, but it’s tiring to see things turn out so melodramatically all the time.
The cast that makes up Gentle World is as diverse as anyone would expect from a form of Japanese entertainment media. We have the quiet, smart girl, the fun-loving, playful girl, the innocent romantic, and the male lead. Of course, there is another important male lead later on in the story, and the story has a large array of characters with varying importance, but they’re hardly worth mentioning. Almost like the way the sun will forever rise upon the horizon, each (major) female character is, at one point, interested in the male lead. Color me shocked, golly gee. It’s almost like the male lead is the male lead. Sprinkle in a few acts of residual shounen kindness, and the male lead is one step closer to becoming the king of his own harem. But wait! He’s a teacher! Relationships with students is strictly forbidden! How incredibly erotic!
Before I write an entry purely on how much I hate how easily female characters fall in love in Japanese media, the way the characters are dragged through the story only highlight their strengths or their flaws—most commonly their flaws. After finishing it, the only character I found myself liking was Touko, the aforementioned playful girl. That may or may not attribute to the fact that I like my fictional women feisty and witty. Even so, the characters don’t differentiate themselves from anyone else from any other story. Their personalities are copied and pasted from other characters of their type, even if their backstories and underlying motivations can sometimes be unique. It would seem that no matter how hard I think about it, the only thing really worth highlighting is the storytelling. Oh well.
The artwork, following the recently formed trend set earlier in this entry, is pretty standard stuff. Characters provide a wide arrangement of emotions and blank stares, but that’s basically it. I was never wowed by any one panel in this manga, but that’s not to say the manga doesn’t look good. I would say I was satisfied more than unsatisfied with the general look of Gentle World, but I was unimpressed with how little it tried to be, I don’t know, out-of-the-box? It’s almost like what one would expect from a military brigade: controlled, clean, and and uniform. It gets the job done, but it never does anything outside of orders. It’s a safe, stagnant look that, when all things considered, ends up becoming unmemorable the more experience one has to their credit. I’ll say this though: the fan service looked odd. There wasn’t a lot of fan service to begin with, but there were two occasions, in the beginning and the end of the manga, where a girl’s skirt is lifted by the wind (ugh), exposing her underwear. It looked… not sexual. There was no accentuation, no shading, no excessive use of lines. It could serve as the subject of “How Not to Draw a Female Panty-Shot.”
Overall, I enjoyed this manga more than I probably should have. There was something about how different it presented itself that got me interested in continuing each chapter that not a lot of manga are capable of. Despite an uninteresting cast of characters and some predictable moral resolutions, Gentle World manages to be entertaining enough to be worth a read, if only for the way it tackles its subject matter. It’s certainly not worth the praise that it receives in some corners of the internet, but there are some good things in place. I only wish that it tried to be more creative with its characters and its art.
The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.