Thoughts on Fudatsuki no Kyouko-chan

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I happened to stumble across this title after a MAL mutual updated it onto their list to read. I was intrigued with the premise and saw that it was written/illustrated by none other than Souichirou Yamamoto of Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san fame (I was already reading it at the time of picking this up). With nothing to lose, I picked it up and enjoyed what the manga initially provided me: a fun, albeit archaic story about two siblings mutually tied by a family secret with underlying incestual vibes. I didn’t think that last tidbit would play much into the story, but surprisingly enough, there was a lot of implied jealousy and possessiveness.

Except, spoiler alert: It all amounted to nada.

There are a large number of stories within anime or manga that include trainwreck endings of the most delightful kind. I recall my experience with the final OVA sequel for Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu and thinking to myself, “What the fuck am I watching right now?” Fudatsuki no Kyouko-chan isn’t like this sort of trainwreck-to-happen at all, which is in some ways both a relief and a disappointment. It ends with not a wreck, but a smooth stop, completely and totally painless to everyone on board. The only issue is when the passengers get off, they’re in the middle of nowhere.

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There is no clear point to this story, at least nothing I could find with reasonable measure of evidence. Perhaps it’s a commentary on how to peacefully resolve a household where two siblings are implied to be romantically linked with a fantasy twist? How to slowly build up the courage to stop relying on others too often and make it out on your own? To stop being overpossessive? From beginning to end, the focus of the story tends to sway to and fro without much ambition, relying on the slice-of-life nature of “episodicness” (new term) to carry the pacing to a gradual crawl. All the while, romance carries the development of most chapters’ main conflict in as frustratingly a way as one could imagine from Japanese media.

I’m gonna switch up my usual format to talk about the art fairly early on. Experimentation is fun. Anyway, there’s something interesting about the way the style of character design changes throughout the manga—and by that, I mean the way it’s polished. In the beginning, characters were roughly sketched, more loose with their expressions and outlines, and were almost at risk of not even looking like the characters they were supposed to be. As the story moved along, the art became smoother, rounder, and brighter. It started to take on the appearance of his other most famous work that was already named. And I, with my rapidly-changing tastes in artistic aesthetic, can’t decide which one I prefer. All in all, I feel it’s designed well and one can definitely tell his own style of drawing from others, but I almost prefer the former rougher style. I almost think it becomes a little too similar to Takagi-san.

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On the topic of Takagi-san, I think I’m beginning to see a trend with his works, though only with my vast experience of two of them. He allows the story to unfold for a little while, continues to explore ways in how he can make that general synopsis appealing, and doesn’t stop. Ever. I really liked Takagi-san at first. I thought the chemistry between the two leads was cute at first. However, he decided that what better way to continue the story than to do the exact same thing over and over and over again except with a different game. Enter Kyouko-chan.

Kyouko’s brother is constantly labeled a siscon by everyone, including Kyouko. Every chapter sees him wanting to protect his sister because he loves her (too much?), with his actions eventually leading to someone labeling him a siscon. By the way, he also has a crush on this one girl who he’s always trying to impress by fending off his siscon image. Kyouko, on the other hand, has a magic ribbon that will force her to reveal all of her emotional insecurities when taken off. Because obviously that’s the key to everything, the most emotionally-charged scenes full of clarity will involve her ribbon  a c c i d e n t a l l y coming off near the end of every most some chapters. This process repeats on quite a few occasions, though dwindles gradually in parts.

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Whereas Takagi-san is still going, this manga ended before it hit its fortieth chapter; seeing as it should have an actual ending, the author decided to make one as painfully boring and inconsequential as possible. It did very little to convince me of any central theme or provide enough clarity as to why certain person ended up with other certain person. The entire story, thanks in large part to its ending, feels almost ruined. It’s almost as if the mangaka had only pitched the synopsis and the publishers were like “Yeah, dude. That sounds sick. Make it happen!” and never had anything else attached, forcing him to wing it as he went along.

Despite what I may have said, there are good things to this manga, especially early on. The debut stages of artistic sloppiness and general chaos of having the synopsis be fresh was a generally enjoyable experience. There were shots of wholesomeness, justified romantic tension, and some flavor of individuality before it ended up undershooting the landing. Fudatsuki no Kyouko-chan may not have been my (eventual) cup of tea, but those who enjoy the family-friendly side of coming-of-age (I guess?) stories with some Yamamoto flair, this would be a recommendable read. Just don’t expect to have all your blood by the end.

The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.

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