Anne Happy Vol. 1 - Manga Review

Some are born unlucky, others achieve lucklessness, while others have luck stripped from them. Class 1-7 of Tennomifume Academy is filled with these poor and unfortunate souls - students who live constantly with the effects of their own negative karma. Can they ever find happiness?

The Lowdown

Ruri Hibarigaoka just wants to have a normal high school life. However, that all changes when she learns that the small misfortunes that plague her existence are not just mere random chance, but a permanent state of bad luck. Now surrounded by the equally unfortunate, she quickly becomes friends with the perpetually frail Botan, and the overly optimistic, if complete trainwreck-of-luck Anne. It’s now up to the three of them to see if they can manage making it through their school life, even when it seems like just a series of unfortunate events.

How Was It?

Anne Happy, if you haven’t figured it out by now, is a comedy-slice of life series in the “cute-highschool-girls” style. However, the main twist which separates it from the rest of its genre-peers is that Anne Happy’s “cute-things” are consistently of the tragic variety. Although this premise is nothing unique, it is nonetheless put through its paces in the series with the entire main cast dealing with this serious lack of luck. Within this main cast, a number of various forms of ill luck and misfortune are used for their comedic potential, and this nicely avoids being overly repetitive from character to character. This was accomplished by the series injecting embedding into each character their own brand of misfortune which played into their character archetypes, allowing the characters to clash over their mutually exclusive kinds of ill luck.

In a writing sense this use of “misfortune’s” many comedic facets is what keeps it fresh as a premise, elevating many of the characters above the initial archetypes. An example is that Anne may be air-headed and over-excitable and a klutz, but it is her absorption of Murphy’s Law into her very being that really makes her stand out. However it is this one point that while being the series’ strength also hides one of its weaknesses: for while the characters are amusing, but I found their characterization beyond their surface misfortune to be somewhat lacking. While I found this funny, I hope that future volumes delve into the “characters” further.

On the whole, I found Anne Happy to be an enjoyably entertaining read with a number of the jokes hitting the mark for me satisfyingly. One of the benefits of this series is that the series’ conventional setting and unconventional tone allows it to make new and interesting jokes in what would otherwise be “cliche” anime-school scenes, like the girls physical exams or eating lunch together. That said, not every joke is a home run, and there are a couple of jokes that noticeably fall flat simply due to their extreme reliance on Japanese social norms. Gags such as the names the main characters call each other by, while understandable to those with moderate knowledge of Japanese customs, doesn’t read off the page that well to westerners (or at least not to me). A few other panels also have some unusually phrased jokes that just pulled me out of the experience. I can’t tell if this was a translation or an original text issue, but either way a couple places just didn’t sit right with me.

If there’s one redeeming quality though, it is the art. Anne Happy is full of beautifully detailed art, full of stellar effect-works, making every page visually stimulating. Not every page is memorable, but moment to moment it is at least always keeps your attention.

Final Thoughts

Anne Happy Vol 1 is a good start for this series. It was enjoyable start to finish, with beautiful artwork, and some unconventional and surprising jokes. I did however found it lacking those outright hysterical moments that make a series like this outstanding. As long as the mangaka keeps finding new ways to use the central premise, while fleshing out the characters, I think it will continue to do well. I don’t think this volume is no happy accident, but i do think it has room to grow to be truly inspiring comedy.


Anne Happy Vol. 1 was published by Yen Press on May 24th, 2016 and translated by Amanda Haley. The series is currently authored by Cotoji and is published in Houbunsha's Manga Time Kirara Forward magazine. Volume 2 will be released in English on August 30, 2016 .

Verdict:

B

Date of Publication: May 24th, 2016

Translator: Amanda Haley

Author: Cotoji

Publisher: Yen Press