Look at this guy, groovin’ around on the cover of his manga story. Look at his lips, his physique, his eyebrows. He is the most likable shoujo lead I’ve ever come across. Though it’d be hard to find yourself hating what is essentially the perfect character.
I’m not trying to be condescending; Takeo, the glamorous man you see above, is by all accounts a perfect character, or perhaps more suitably, a perfect person. His gentleness exceeds that of the typical shoujo female lead, his earnestness is almost puppy-like, and he places others above himself on a level that rivals Goku from Dragon Ball Z. He wears his emotions on his sleeve and everyone—and I mean everyone—loves him for being so transparent. No other word describes him better than “Goofball,” with as tender a stigma as the word possesses when spoken from someone who genuinely and wholeheartedly cares. Takeo carries the entire story on his gargantuan shoulders, and he is what keeps the readers coming back.
He is the beacon, too, for the flaws that make this an ultimately unfulfilling and eventually irritating read.
In the beginning, it was simple. Takeo was a “loser” who was best friends with an incredibly beautiful boy who got all the girls that talked badly of Takeo behind his back, much to beautiful boy’s disgust. This backstory is played out rather methodically before it just so happens~ that Takeo saves a girl, who would go on to be his perfect girlfriend, from a groper on the bus. The establishment of his relationship with this girl, later to be named Yamato, plays out much quicker than I would expect it to, and a large majority of the manga focuses on their growing relationship. Unfortunately, what also begins to accumulate rather quickly are more just so happens~ moments.
This story is not a real one. Things that happen in this manga are fake, with almost no possibility of ever being real. At one time, a manga like this would’ve driven me absolutely crazy with how stupid it was, but I’ve become accustomed to being lenient if the product can make up for it in other areas. Yet there are a number of things that, outside of the charm of Takeo’s character and his relationship with the ones around him, make Ore Monogatari!! a supersaturated and uneventful experience.
Predictability is one of them. Once one becomes adept to Takeo’s shtick (unintentional innuendo aside), each chapter’s structure becomes plain to even the most unkeen eyes. I recall at one point around when the eighth volume started that a situation began to foreshadow events to come, and all I could think was, “Gee, I wonder if Takeo is gonna freak out over something until he eventually talks to his beautiful buddy and feels better enough to make a grand, emotional speech to his girlfriend and make the mood doki-doki and resolved.” The chapter then proceeded to have Takeo freak out over something until he eventually talked to his beautiful buddy and felt better enough to make a grand, emotional speech to his girlfriend and made the mood doki-doki and resolved.
And then there’s standard story clichés. Woe is me, something terrible has happened in my life so now I must run away from home. Good golly, this guy suddenly likes my girlfriend because the plot made him do it! Wouldn’t you know, now it’s happened to me, and my girlfriend’s jealous! Oh, no! My girlfriend got uncomfortable with a certain topic. She must be cheating on me! Despite the fact that I am huge, strong, liked at school, have a cute girlfriend, and have an amazing support group of friends and family, I have no confidence in myself… C’mon. I’ve seen this all before. It’s so straightforward that the earnestness and oversentimental value of the manga becomes the only thing that differentiates it from the crowd.
But wait! There are also Takeo’s faces, which filter the panels’ monotone story with glee and vibrancy. I can thank the artist for this manga for being so liberal about Takeo’s expressions, such that they brighten up the character and establish an atmosphere of willingness to read. Yes, Ore Monogatari!!, more than its flaws and predictability, is a delightfully easy manga to read. Each chapter ranges between 40-60 pages, with a total of fifty chapters available (excluding bonus ones). It took me about five days to read through this. In comparison, there were roughly the same amount of pages to Domestic na Kanojo around the end of November of last year, and it took me about ten days to read up to that point. Total difference in tones, sure, but one didn’t complicate things, while the other is pretty exhausting with how intricate it tries to make itself.
All that said, I had fun. It was a fun read and one that, had the story been of any interest whatsoever, would be recommendable to most. As it is, its worth is more akin to that of the “popcorn movie,” with superpowers abound, flashing lights, big guns, attractive faces, and not an ounce of thought necessary to digest. It’d probably be easier to compare it to a treat or empty calories, with the initial reaction being a sweet sensation, while the ensuing aftermath of overconsumption results in an aching feeling—a feeling I endured reading this. My self-conscious mind thinks I’ve been using too many food analogies lately. Perhaps the anime is better?
The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.