Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy Cafe vol. 1 Impression

This is one cafe that will leave readers themselves feeling happy

Every once in a while a manga comes along that does not sport the flashy cover or eye melting art but it manages to wrap up the reader all the same with a touching story; a mixture of humor and romance that’s predictable yet so engaging. Happy Cafe volume 1 from Tokyopop is just such a manga. The tale of smallish Uru is fun and engaging, a well told tale by Kou Matsuzuki. So who is Uru and what’s she got going on, let’s take a look.

She may look like an elementary school student but Uru is only guilty of being on the short and youngish side. She lives on her own, a way to gain independence and give her mother and step-father time alone. To earn a bit of cash she takes a job as a waitress at the Happy Café run by the ever serious Shindo and the ever passing out from hunger Ichiro. Her klutziness and odd super strength make her not the ideal waitress but she tries harder than anyone else and forms a bond with her co-workers. Shindo is good looking but very abrasive and one heck of a pastry chef while Ichiro can’t stay awake without constants snacks. The three run Happy Café to decent levels of success and make new friends along the way from models to overprotective parents. No work day is quite the same in Happy Café.

Overly original story; not really. Incredible art; not quite. Worth the purchase; without a doubt … but for the right audience. First the art in Happy Café is typical shojou, solid but not spectacular with an average looking girl and tall, slender boys that are pretty and fall into the what readers know as shojou boys in look and attitude. This is what I mean by the right audience and it seems for some reason I count myself in this audience. I love a good romantic, comedic story. Not a chic-flic type story but one that makes the reader smile when those feelings are realized, recognized and reciprocated. The butterflies that adolescent love creates and can be felt in the story. Ah, the story, the strongest point of Uru’s tale. As I’ve touched on it’s fairly predictable but follows a formula that works and is well told. Boy and girl as friends in working/class relationship with rivals and other interest thrown in learning about each other’s past and learning to move from friends to more … or maybe not. This is Happy Café in a nutshell and fans of the romance genre of shojou should take a look. Happy Café can draw comparison to Maid Sama in a more lite manner with somewhat similar settings and relationships minus the detailed art and backdrop. Solid, fun and just plain fun to read, it will make you happy.

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