Paradise Residence Vol. 1 - Manga Review

From the creator of Oh My Goddess! comes the story of spunky high-schooler Hatsune Takanashi’s joyful new dorm life!

The Lowdown

Hatsune Takanashi doesn’t need much in life - as long as she has her pudding, her curry and her friends, life is just fine for her. Now that she’s started high-school at the all-girls boarding school Kikka Academy, Hatsune is looking forward to more food, more friends, and a lot of fun new experiences. Along the way, she’ll have to contend with a mean rival from the other dorm, a dog she just can’t get along with, and a foreign exchange student who just doesn’t quite like being dressed. With her best-friend and roommate Suzuka Misawa and the rest her dormmates, Hatsune is determined to make the most of each day!

Who Is It For?

If you’re looking for a light and breezy slice-of-life, Paradise Residence will be right up your alley.

How Was It?

Occasionally, there are times when one might just want to sit back, turn off your mind, and read some light and fluffy fare. Paradise Residence is a series aimed squarely at that purpose, delivering a breezy slice-of-life story following Hatsune and her friends through their daily shenanigans. This is a series of simple and unchallenging stories with no real overlying plot to speak of as Hatsune goes through her days at the dorm. While there’s definitely a place for a light read such as this, there was nothing in this volume that really stuck with me as I continued onwards through this story.

Paradise Residence’s main problem is that it lacks any one particular drawing factor to make for a memorable reading experience and keep the reader engaged. Technically, this is a very sound series - the characters and setting are established fairly distinctively, and the volume hums along from story to story without much problem. However, there’s just something missing here, and it felt a bit like I was waiting for the punchline to a long-lasting joke that really just never arrived.

While the story proceeds at a pleasant pace, it’s hard to really say anything of particular memorability happened in this volume. Hatsune and the rest of the girls do things like make noddles, go bathing, and fight off a typhoon, but these scenes aren’t particularly funny or meaningful - they just sort of happen as we watch the girls go throughout their daily lives. This might have been helped a little bit if the cast of characters was more memorable outside of Hatsune and Suzuka, but in this case the rest of the girls just sort of blend together without many personality traits to strongly distinguish them.

My first impression of Paradise Residence was that this was going to be a comedic slice-of-life, but the humour never really arrives in a substantial way. While I undoubtedly had some light chuckles each chapter at the various predicaments that Hatsune got herself into, it was rare to find any scenes with real staying power that I might recall in the future. It was fun to see Hatsune wage various battles against Neopan the dog as well as against a curry-stealing rival from the other dorm, but I wish that these scenes were just a little more punchy. Hatsune’s interactions with the rest of the cast are similar, failing to really leave much of an impression with me throughout the volume.

One of the rare standouts in this volume was a short chapter entitled “Operation Cornball” which sees Hatsune attempting to reenact the famous “spunky-girl running to school late with toast in mouth bumps into cute boy” shojo manga-trope after reading about it. This chapter was executed perfectly, playing off her impulsive attitude excellently before delivering a pretty good punch-line to end it off. Operation Cornball nailed the humour perfectly in a way that complemented the rest of the series breezy slice-of-life vibes, and I really wish that this volume had more chapters like it. 

While I found the story itself a little bit lackluster, Kosuke Fujishima’s art complements the series in a great way. Characters are cleanly drawn, and panels flow from one to another without any clutter, keeping the story moving effectively. The facial expressions complemented most scenes effectively, but it was a little bit odd to see many of the characters share a close similarity in facial structure. This made it difficult to differentiate some of them from one another especially in the case of some of the minor characters who go in and out of the story. Kodansha also was nice enough to include an coloured illustration gallery in the middle of the volume featuring drawings of the characters in different poses, and this was a wonderful addition to the volume because these drawings are fantastically detailed.

Final Thoughts

Paradise Residence Vol. 1 is a breezy and lightly enjoyable slice-of-life series that delivered some minor laughs but didn’t really strike me as memorable in a real way. The characters are pleasant to watch, but there’s just something missing to this series because the jokes don’t quite land and the characters come off as a little bit bland. I can definitely recommend this series for readers looking for about as narrowly focused a slice-of-life series as they come, but for anyone else looking for a little bit more substance you may want to look elsewhere.


Paradise Residence 1
By Kosuke Fujishima

Paradise Residence Vol. 1 (Containing volumes 1 and 0 of the Japanese release) was translated by Stephen Paul and published by Kodansha Comics USA on March 15th, 2016. Authored by Kosuke Fujishima, the series is ongoing in Kodansha’s good! Afternoon magazine. Volume 2 will be released in English on June 14th 2016.

Verdict:

B-

Date of Publication: March 15th, 2016

Translator: Stephen Paul

Author: Kosuke Fujishima

Publisher: Kodansha Comics USA



Matt

Matt is a broke law student by day, broke law student by night, and one of the co-founders of Taykobon in his dwindling spare time. Although his favourite series tend to be shonen adventure series, he also has a soft spot for slice-of-life shojo romances. He enjoys following the manga industry, and is a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Blue Jays in other nonexistent spare time. 

Favourite series: Bakuman

Favourite author: Io Sakisaka