Anne Happy Vol. 2 - Manga Review

The Class 1-7 Girls are (as usual) really down on their luck, and their teachers are trying the best they can to deal with their calamity-inducing karma. Will anything ever happen to turn their luck around?

The Lowdown

Anne, Ruri and Botan are in a bit of a fix, falling behind in their classroom game of luck alongside their classmates Hibiki and Ren. So when the three classmates are sent to find some lucky items as extra homework, and Hibiki and Ren are unlucky enough to get dragged along, more luckless hijinx ensue!

How Was It?

Anne Happy’s quirky, ridiculous humor is back again in Vol 2, and it’s just as silly and wacky as ever. Just like the previous volume, it remains hyperactive, cute, and funny, and continues to lean on its unique luck-based premise to elicit some excellent out-of-left-field comedy. The jokes on a whole are the series’ greatest strong suit, as my own joyous laughter can attest to. From the strangest of cooking mishaps to slapstick-laden walks to school, any and every encounter these girls have can and will be turned into a source of laughter. With the new girls Hibiki and Ren joining in on the luckless shenanigans, we are greeted with two even more strange and ridiculous sources of comedic bad karma on top of our already accident prone-protagonists. Anne Happy knows how to find comedy from the most unlikely of places, and when the gags are on fire (metaphorically, and sometimes literally) they can genuinely bring you to full bouts of laughter. There’s barely even a page that won’t at least make you chuckle or at least smile at the crazy and cute antics Cotoji-sensei draws up.

If the comedy is Anne Happy’s greatest strength, the few places where the jokes either aren’t there or don’t land come across as the weakest points. When the manga tries for some more dramatic plot or character beats it just ends up falling flat. This isn’t to say that the story and characters are bad, but rather that the very minor character development that does occur in the volume is stretched quite thin and usually only serves as a set up for more jokes. The bare bones nature of that progression therefore just doesn’t carry much weight on its own without the punchline of some joke, leading the “plot” feeling like it only exists to facilitate the gags. A major contributor to the plot’s inconsequentiality is that the volume doesn’t really have a good through-line. The beginning is awkward for anyone who hasn’t just read the first volume, with little explanation of the game we find ourselves thrown into, while the rest of the volume follows no real arc, rather feeling like it is a bunch of vignettes where the first and last ones are only half complete. 

Anne Happy tries to get around the exposition-less beginning on the strength of its humor, and this doesn’t quite work because a lot the jokes are actually based on the setup from the previous volume. As a result, if the readers haven’t got that fresh in mind, they are likely to get lost. It is like the manga is stuck between two disparate writing styles - it wants to be as quick witted and funny as a 4-koma, but has jokes that require more setup, while it also wants the pacing of a more typical slice of life series which doesn’t quite jive with its gag-based main cast, and is not planned properly for the plot-arcs of a volume-based manga. However, it’s not a deal breaker, and once the reader is on board enough to follow the gags and humor most of these narrative shortcomings become more of an afterthought. However, this was one that does make it hard for the manga to stick in your head after reading, and I hope it will be improved upon heading into future volumes.

Anne Happy’s artwork continues to be fun and cute -Cotoji-sensei really seems to have a lot of fun with drawing “cute” variations of their characters, and their use of chibi reaction faces never ceases to amuse. They also have a lot of fun with background effects, making even similar panels feel different, fresh and joyful. My one complaint is that while the art is pretty, it doesn’t stand out much. There are very few stand-out panels, which is partially a symptom of having very over-saturated composition style with very few pages having less than 5 panels. It creates a very fast-paced reading experience with lots of small gags, making it an easily digested, if un-memorable experience. What it does do though, is speed you through its jokes at a blistering pace, making sure readers never have time to feel bored as they gaze upon all the luckless carnage Anne and Co find themselves embroiled in.

Final Thoughts

Anne Happy Vol. 2 is a bowl of popcorn. Light, cute and funny, it doesn’t outstay its welcome, but isn’t remarkably memorable for any particular scenes. It does have its moments, it is consistently funny with some of the jokes being real gut-clenchers, and for that alone it is definitely worth a read, even if it won’t stay long with you long afterward.


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

Verdict:

B

Date of Publication: August 30th, 2016

Author: Cotoji

Translator: Amanda Haley

Publisher: Yen Press