Dengeki Daisy Volumes 1 and 2

Dengeki Daisy Volumes 1 and 2 Kyousuke Motomi

Just what I need, yet another shoujo series to follow! I didn’t run out and preorder the first volume of Dengeki Daisy when I saw it solicited. I tend to enjoy most Shojo Beat series, but I thought the idea of a girl getting over her brother’s death due to her guardian angel “Daisy” who is reachable only by cell phone was maybe not the greatest premise for a story. Then I saw all the positive reviews for the series from other manga bloggers and I started to think I was missing out. When Viz sent me a copy of the second volume, I decided to give in and try the series, and I was very pleasantly surprised.

Volume 1

Dengeki Daisy starts out with a rather worn out premise, but the execution of all the details made the story seem fresh. Teru’s older brother has died, but before he passed on he gave her a cell phone and said that the phone will connect her to a person named Daisy who will always be there to support her. As the volume opens poor but sassy Teru is treating the phone like a false diary, telling Daisy that she’s doing fine when she’s being bullied by the sadistic student council at her school. Teru isn’t a helpless heroine. After she gets splashed with a bucket of water she turns a hose on the perpetrators. She’s aided further as some balls thrown by a mysterious rescuer connect with the heads of her tormentors. Teru tries to throw the balls back in the direction where she thinks they came from, but they end up breaking a window at the school. Enter the creepy yet astoundingly young and handsome school custodian Kurosaki. Since Teru is too poor to pay to fix the window, he announces that she’ll become his servant and puts her to work performing custodial tasks while he communes with his laptop. They quickly fall into the habit of bickering, as Kurosaki gruffly orders Teru around and she bids him farewell by saying “I hope your hair falls out by tomorrow!” Kurosaki always seems to be around when Teru needs help. When Teru needs help hacking into a computer in order to aid a classmate, she texts Daisy and the situation is quickly resolved. She asks Kurosaki if he’s Daisy and he denies it.

That scene was where I thought there was an indication that Dengeki Daisy might be a little more interesting than the average shoujo manga. I think in a more conventional title, it would take at least a volume or two for Teru to register the suspicion that Kurosaki is Daisy. Bad boys who are secretly good are shoujo staples but Kurosaki is a superior example of the type. I found myself captivated by his expressions of unholy glee as he dealt with the people who were picking on Teru. He was gruff and surly with Teru, and only had a gentle expression on his face when she couldn’t see him. Thankfully the evil student council plot is left quickly behind and the odd couple end up having to unravel something more interesting – industrial espionage. Teru’s older brother was a genius engineer, and unscrupulous people suspect that since Teru’s only inheritance from him was a cell phone it might be more valuable than it appears. While Kurosaki isn’t revealing his identity as Daisy to Teru, he used to work with her brother and took the custodian job to watch over her. He’s filled with guilt about the death of his friend.

Motomi’s art easily shifts between different modes that expresses what the characters are going through. When Teru and a couple of her friends express solidarity, they strike a fighting pose straight out of comedic shonen manga and vow “Even if we are poor and are clothes are shabby! Even if we are ugly and girls don’t like us! Our hearts bloom like flowers, beautiful and strong! And we’re proud of it!!!” Kurosaki looks like a capable action hero when he leaps to defend his girl and when they share a quiet moment in the school’s garden the backdrop of flowers and significant glances creates an emotionally charged mood broken only by Kurosaki telling Teru that she’s stupid for thinking he’s Daisy.

Volume 2

Teru and Kurosaki become temporary roommates after somebody breaks into her apartment. He puts her to work doing various domestic tasks like cooking, organizing CDs, and providing him with shoulder massages. One of the things I like is the emotional give-and-take between the couple. Kurosaki attempts to tease her after she announces that to her Daisy is the best thing in the world by asking her what would happen if Daisy turns out to be a total jerk like him. She says “That goes without saying, I’ll love everything about you,” then wacks him in the head. Kurosaki is momentarily dumbfounded and as Teru walks away she thinks “Even if you aren’t Daisy, I’ve already fallen for you.”

The supporting cast is rounded out by the addition of the new school counselor Riko. She is also someone who used to work with Kurosaki and Teru’s brother. Riko’s also interested in looking after Teru and when Teru seeks her advice she tells Teru that Kurosaki is a terrible, selfish person. Teru thinks that it is true that Kurosaki might be terrible because she has no idea what he’s thinking, so she vows to become “a terrible woman whose thoughts are unreadable” so she can play with his emotions. Teru and Daisy’s texts to each other provide an interesting counterpoint to the relationship between Teru and Kurosaki. He has more knowledge of her inner feelings, and Teru will sometimes confess something to Daisy and put on an entirely different facade for Kurosaki. Teru’s troubles continue as she continues to be the target of people who are after her brother’s research. The emotional strain of protecting Teru and holding back his feelings for her begins to weigh more heavily on Kurosaki, and the reader sees a flashback to a scene between him and Teru’s brother that seems a little creepy.

One thing that I thought was curious about this manga was the author bios in the back of the books. I’d thought that Kyousuke Motomi was one of the few men working as a shoujo manga artist, but the author bios indicated the author was female. On the other hand, the self-portrait of the author looked like it had a very stylized mustache, and there’s an a author comment about facial hair growth. So I’m not sure what to think, but I’d honestly be curious to read more shoujo written by men just as I enjoy shonen manga written by women.

Even though some of the plot points in Dengeki Daisy manga aren’t very unique, by the end of these two volumes I was totally invested in wanting to see what happens to Teru and Kurosaki. The industrial sabotage subplot and the events surrounding the death of Teru’s brother creates an ongoing mystery that works as a counterweight to the budding romance. Also, I find the idea of a romance between a high school girl and a seemingly benign yet emotionally traumatized hacker who is posing as a school custodian just creepy enough to be entertaining while not quite entering into the “No, this is yucky” territory of a manga like Black Bird. Teru seems to be extremely resilient and is able to cope with Kurosaki by coming up with quick put-downs whenever he seems mean. Dengeki Daisy manages to blend different emotional aspects to come up with a compelling story. I enjoyed reading this series because there’s suspense, romance, action, and just enough comedy to keep things from being too heavy.

Review copy of volume 2 provided by the publisher

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