Shoujo – Romance, drama, comedy
16 Volumes (complete)
Before Teru’s brother died, he left her with a phone and the number of someone called Daisy. Without knowing Daisy’s identity, Teru sends Daisy updates about her life, but Teru hides she’s being bullied and is the school custodian’s slave. But could Daisy be close? And what’s with all the talk about a computer hacker?
Dengeki Daisy‘s main source of drama is not, surprisingly, the love story. Shoujo fans looking for a romance story with more story, less romance or who are just sick of the typical high school with the school prince will find Dengeki Daisy a wonderful read.
Let’s get two things out of the way: this is an age gap romance, and this is a slow romance. If the first bothers you, then this isn’t a series for you. As for the latter, the main couple develops feelings quickly, but they do not act on them right away. It’s not really a subtle romance, but don’t expect a lot of dates or kisses. There’s a lot of cute and heart-pounding moments but not of the raburabu type. The OT rating is more for the threat of violence than the romance. (Although the age gap probably factored into it.) There’s nothing resembling smut here.
Dengeki Daisy is probably better read in succession due to the underlying mysteries. It can be hard for the reader to remember what the characters do and don’t know if the reader takes long breaks between volumes. There’s also a quite few technical terms and code names, so those may also confuse readers if they keep forgetting the difference between “hack” and “crack” or the names of all the different computer viruses. I restarted this series twice before rereading this for my review because I kept forgetting what was going on. Perhaps Viz Media will make this series into an omnibus now to make it easier on readers.
Dengeki Daisy starts off as a comedy with dramatic elements before switching to a drama with comedic elements. It’s not really a subtle or gradual shift. The central themes of sin, guilt, and forgiveness have been present in the story from the start, but once they are dragged forcibly out in the open, the series loses its comedic edge. The overall tone of the series gets heavier despite the romance being more out in the open. There’s not a lot of blood, but the threat of violence (along with the age-gap romance) makes this an OT-rated series. I think the series would have been stronger if the comedy and drama was more balanced throughout the series. The humor was a nice diversion (although not really laugh-out-loud funny), but it felt like too much in the beginning and not enough in the middle and end. So once you hit the big dramatic reveal, expect some of the running gags and not much else. The final volume is made up of the final main chapter, a few side-stories, and an epilogue. I wish the main story was given a more proper wrap-up rather than saving it for the ending, but oh well.
Despite the cast being quite smart and capable, they are all pretty crazy in some way. Teru will show off her belly button. Kiyoshi will sing Koda Kumi. The school director is a masochist. Everyone is, to put it politely, strange. Again, their eccentricities are frequently played up in the early volumes, but a lot of the humor really isn’t laugh-out-loud funny. But when the series turns melancholy, I wish I could have seen more of their comedic sides. It’s kind of strange.
Teru is a really strong heroine. Although she has a lack of common sense at times and can act like an idiot, she is not one of those “I’m-terrible-at-school-genki-girl-glutton” protagonists that dominate shoujo series. She’s smart, and she tries to think things through. Yes, she has many elements of a typical shoujo heroine (“I’ve got to be strong for the one I love”-type monologues), but she tries to be capable and not a damsel-in-distress. She has her successes and failures, but that’s how life is. Kurosaki, the male lead, starts off as more like a perverted oyaji-type character before he becomes more flustered and gentle. His jerk side is usually reserved for those who actually threaten him or Teru. Kurosaki isn’t mean to everyone unlike many male love interests. Together, they make a nice lead pair.
The rest of the main cast is made up of Teru’s school friends and Kurosaki’s work associates. Some classmates of Teru’s are shown to be her close friends early in the series, yet the author barely bothers to give them names. Only a couple move into the forefront, but it’s Kurosaki’s cohorts that get a lot of screentime. Older readers will love having major cast members closer to their own ages. Riko, for instance, seems like a bossy
obaa-san onee-san, but she’s actually a hard-working woman who still is grieving over her lost boyfriend. If you don’t read the volumes in quick succession, it’s easy to forget that several allies are actually former antagonists.
At the beginning, the art looks like rough shoujo (or shoujo with some shounen influences). By the end, the main characters look more like standard shoujo hero and heroine. Gray colors are used quite often. Again, this fits the rather melancholy mood throughout the series. Don’t expect a lot of shoujo sparkles or bright colors. Panels strike a good balance between art and dialogue. Characters range from attractive to…not so attractive. One character dresses in disguises often, and they do look quite different in each of their appearances. Kaoruko, the dog, actually looks like a dog and not a blob with legs.
No honorifics are used. Masuda, the bar owner, is called Boss here. He’s nicknamed Master in the Japanese version, which is what barkeepers are typically referred to as. Most of the time, this is adapted as “barkeep”. Boss kind of fits, but it also sounds weird. Rena switches to Teru’s and Kiyoshi’s first names here when she still calls them by their last names in the Japanese version. A few puns stay intact in this translation. “Lolicon” is referred to by its full name of “lolita complex”. The author frequently bleeps out references, but most do not include translation notes, so I felt like I missed the joke or just didn’t fully understand something. Despite these nitpicks and a few minor errors (like Kaoruko referred to as “he” in one volume), this is a good adaptation. However, strangely, I don’t think anywhere it ever explains what “dengeki” means. (It’s electric shock.)
Although the comedic and dramatic moments do not always intertwine well, Dengeki Daisy is a breath of fresh air compared to cookie cutter shoujo stories.
This series has some of the strangest side columns. Seriously. The majority are about how much hair Kurosaki will someday lose or how much of a pervert he is.
Beast Master, another series by the author, is also available from Viz Media.