Gatcha Gacha Volumes 7 and 8

I’ve procrastinated writing about the last couple volumes of Gatcha Gacha because I didn’t really want this series to end. In a world filled with cookie cutter shoujo, this series is genuinely weird, somewhat endearing, and occasionally disturbing. I’m assuming that based on the long stretches of time between the series debut and the translation of the final volume that this series didn’t do so well in the sales arena, so kudos for Tokyopop for finishing it. While I’m unhappy about so many series being unfinished with Tokyopop shutting down, I’m trying to comfort myself with the idea that at least Gatcha Gacha was finished. There are plenty of spoilers ahead, so be warned.

Gatcha Gacha Volume 7 by Yutaka Tachibana

The seventh volume was the first one where I felt like Tachibana was stalling for time before the end of the series. Instead of focusing on the relationships between the main characters, we get an extended flashback of what happened between Motoko and a girl from her past named Sae. Motoko gets involved in Sae’s life, and while Sae thinks that she’s using Motoko, it is clear that everyone’s favorite tough girl has her own motivations for intervening. The next story arc in this Motokocentric volume touches on the possibility that she has a different family background than everybody previously assumed. It is interesting to see the agony Yuri goes through when confronted with the idea that Motoko might be disappearing from her life. Motoko ends up solving the issue with her customary directness, and it reminded me how much I enjoy reading a manga that features a character that just says whatever she wants without fear. In another series, the situation probably wouldn’t have been taken care of in half a volume, because everyone would sill be sneaking around without saying anything.

Gatcha Gacha Volume 8 by Yutaka Tachibana

The final volume confirms that the great love affair in this manga wasn’t between Yuri and Yabe or Yuri and Hirao, but Yuri and Motoko. Someone with a better background in gender studies than I would probably have a field day with Gatcha Gacha. It certainly shows a quirky yet positive proto-lesbian relationship between Yuri and Motoko, but it also uses gay characters and situations as fodder for soap opera sleaze of the highest order, as the cute girl who has been stalking Hirao is revealed to be a guy with an overprotective brother/gang leader who makes his displeasure known when the male objects of his cross dressing brothers affection reject his advances. The image of Yuri being menaced by a gang member in full gimp costume is one of the most incongruous things I’ve seen in mainstream shoujo, and one of the reasons why I love Gatcha Gacha is that it can be both surprising and weird.

The ending is one of those open-ended conclusions that often seem to plague manga. The characters are all a little different thanks to knowing each other, but all of the ongoing relationship issues are hinted at instead of given a clear resolution. Hirao is still enamored of Yuri, but even as she tries to give their relationship a chance and acts jealous if other girls give him attention, she’s probably slotted him into a non-romantic category in her mind. His emotional sensitivity and generosity has her thinking of him as princess she wants to protect. In contrast, when Yuri needs someone to rescue her, the person she calls for is Motoko. Motoko sweeps in, ready to fight for Yuri. When I first put the volume down I felt a little cheated because the end of the manga didn’t totally feel like a static conclusion. After reflecting a bit, I realized that even though there might not be major changes, the personalities of all of the characters have shifted a little bit just from their interaction over time. Motoko really views friendship with Yuri as something precious. Yuri is able to stand up for herself a little bit. Hirao is still going after Yuri, but he’s aware that it may already be too late. One of the funniest bits in this volume came with the omake at the back where the characters react to the lack of an ending, and Hirao is complaining that everything’s come back to where it started, only to be answered with the comment that “the girls have all grown into strong, sensitive men.” Gatcha Gacha has been one of the quirkiest shoujo manga that I’ve read, and I’ll horde these precious volumes until I die since they’ll be going out of print. I’m already looking forward to rereading the series next year.

Thanks so much to Sean Gaffney for sending me his extra copy of Volume 8!

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Comments

  1. so, yuri is going out with yabe???
    motoko friends with yuri
    and hirao still after yuri ,,, hmm, such a boring manga,,,, -,-

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