Cafe Kichijouji de Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • Art Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
  • MSRP: 12.95
  • Pages: 158
  • ISBN: 1-56970-949-1
  • Size: A5
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Cafe Kichijouji de Vol. #01

By Sakura Eries     April 11, 2006
Release Date: October 20, 2005

Cafe Kichijouji de Vol.#01
© Digital Manga Publishing

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Yuji Miyamoto / Kyoko Negishi
Translated by:Sachiko Sato
Adapted by:

What They Say
"Irrashai!" Welcome to the most unruly cafe in Kichijouji and its charming staff of five who have absolutely nothing in common. When tempers rise, so do mop handles, giant boulders and repair bills.

Meet Jun, a mild mannered high school student with a sharp tongue and superhuman strength; Tarou, a clean freak with a deadly aim in the art of mopping; Maki, a sloppy, lazy woman chaser; Minagawa, a talented pastry chef equally skilled in the arts of voodoo, and the impulsive, cheerful, though desperately unfortunate Tokumi. A feast of comedy based on the popular Japanese radio drama.

The Review
I have a confession to make. I literally squealed out loud when I spotted this cover in the pile of manga I had been sent--that's how darling it is. (Squeee!!!) Props to DMP for such an excellent packaging job!

DMP kept the original A5 size and the original cover design (though obviously they changed the cover text from Japanese to the appropriate English equivalents) on the manga's dust cover. The front cover features the five Café Kichijouji de staff members sitting together in their white and brown uniforms. A pink polka dot bar with the manga title is placed vertically to the left, and a narrow purple bar with the publisher's logo runs along the bottom. The back cover features the pink polka dot bar with the title placed horizontally along the top; the story summary is light blue font to the left; and more pink polka dots and the Café's black cat are to the right. The front inside flap has the pink polka dot horizontal title bar along the top with paw prints and a disgruntled Café kitty below.

The back cover flap sports a purple and aqua publisher's logo. The actual cover beneath the dust cover is done in pink and white, in a manner similar to some anime art books. The front cover is exactly the same as the front dust cover except it's all in pink, and the back cover has the horizontal polka dot title bar along the top with paw prints beneath.

The Café cat, by the way, thus far doesn't have a name. It merely pops up randomly, much like the weird black cat in Trigun (except the Café cat is much cuter).

Extras include a 2-page full-color fold-out "game," table of contents, 5 "tiny" chapters that follow each of the main chapters, postscript notes from both the writer and the artist. The copy quality and paper quality are excellent. At $12.95, it's a little more expensive than the B6 sized titles mainly found on the market, but you get your money's worth for that little extra.

Want bishounen? Drop by Café Kichijouji! I absolutely love Negishi's character designs. They make wonderful eye candy, although Minagawa does walk the border between handsome and creepy (depending on the background and facial expressions he's drawn with.) Toku and Jun have that wide-eyed cuteness of teenage manga characters while Taro, Minagawa, and Maki have a more elegant and mature aura to their looks. And her chibi drawings for the "tiny" chapters are absolutely adorable! (SQUEE!) I love their uniforms, refined and realistic enough to look like they could be an actual café's uniforms. It's a nice change from the fantastically and unrealistically cut and ornamented school uniforms and military uniforms you often see in manga.

Panels are well paced and backgrounds are very well done as are the action scenes. There are maybe a couple of action scenes where you have to look at the panels for a few moments to figure out what's going on, but a couple of slightly vague ones out of numerous action scenes isn't bad at all.

Overall, I think Negishi's work is terrific, which really makes it difficult to believe that she doesn't like this title as she mentions in her postscript. (If this is sloppy work for her, I'd like to see what she's like when she's motivated!) My only criticism is her placement of speech bubbles. In several places, the bubbles for 2 different speakers are connected, making it look as if it is the text for just one speaker. It trips you up when you first run across it, and I wonder why she doesn't just separate it all out.

Sound effects are translated side-by-side the originals. I like how DMP has imitated the style of the original SFX. DMP also does a good job of varying dialogue font styles to match speakers' moods.

Japanese terms are translated in footnotes and signs are translated in side text. They do a decent job with dialogue translation, but there are some awkward points. In the first chapter, they keep referring to the Café as a "store," which to an American would conjure up many things but not likely a café or eating establishment.

All Japanese honorifics have been removed, although I'm not particularly thrilled with how they've handled it. The two part time staff refer to their older staff members as "Mr. Maki," "Mr. Taro," and "Mr. Minagawa," which sounds odd given that Taro and Maki are first names, not family names, and the older staff aren't that much older than the two part timers. Even if there was originally a "-san" in the Japanese, it makes more sense to drop it in a translation for an English speaking (especially American) audience.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Welcome to Café Kichijouji, where proprietor Yuichi Mitaka and his staff stand ready and waiting to serve you! Well, no, not really. Actually, it's a wonder that Mitaka manages to stay in business at all with such a dysfunctional staff. When they're not fighting, they're creating all sorts of mischief for one another. In fact, their inability to stop antagonizing one another causes the Café to lose a potentially lucrative chance to be featured in a magazine article in the very first chapter.

Who are these incompatible co-workers, you ask? First we have Taro Kurihara, the Café's supervisor and neat freak extraordinaire. His pastimes include collecting cleansers and throwing objects at his co-worker Maki Okubo. Maki, the Café's floor waiter, is hot, and he wants all of womankind to know it. But beware any invitations to drop by his home, fangirls! You might be wiped out by at trash tsunami the moment you open the door. Then we have chef Hifumi Minagawa. He has an unhealthy preoccupation with the occult, and his solution to reducing co-worker spats involve voodoo dolls. He makes pretty cakes though! Finally we have our two part-time waitstaff, Jun Ichinomiya and Shuta Tokumi. Jun is a high schooler who's not easily provoked--that is, unless you comment on his effeminate looks. Make that mistake and watch out! This girly boy packs more power than Schwarzenegger in his prime! Toku is a student at an athletic college. Barely scraping along, the poor guy will eat just about anything (almost seems mean to force him to work in a café.)

Put these five together and even a simple shopping trip for toilet paper turns into an adventure involving an enraged bull and a freakishly large catfish. And be careful if you should decide to use Minagawa's recipe book, you might end up with scone batter that screams! You would think that with all the time that they're forced to be together in the Café that they'd do all they can to avoid each other after hours. However, the three full-timers are actually neighbors in the same apartment complex, which leads to some interesting interaction and revelations when the part timers drop by for a visit.

DMP has a nice product here. With such a wonderful packaging job and great artwork by Negishi- it's like a little artbook almost! The weakest part of this title is its storyline. It's not that the antics of the Café Kichijouji staff aren't entertaining. They are, but let's face it, the type of comedy where you take five disparate personalities and force them together to create hilarious mayhem has been done over and over again, in the United States and Japan. Café tries to put a new spin on this theme with its over-the-topness. It's fine for the first few chapters, but I wonder, as I wait in anticipation for Volume 2, how long it can maintain that freshness.

I'm big into character development, and Café is sadly lacking in that department. The five staff members are essentially type cast into certain roles. While you see them in different situations and perhaps glean a few tidbits about their lives, they themselves don't change. Between that and the episodic nature of its chapters, it's very much like an American sit-com. If that's what you enjoy, by all means go out and get this title!

This story is based on a CD drama by the same name. While it makes for a pretty good manga, I'm surprised it wasn't made into an anime instead. Most of the interaction between the Café staff is physical and extremely kinetic, and the impact from seeing the story animated, instead of in panel snap shots, is bound to be several times greater.

This manga is rated 13+ for some cussing, Minagawa's general creepiness, and comic violence.


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jnager 3/13/2012 7:01:19 PM

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