The Kiss. A sacred act seen only fleetingly in most anime and manga, even in the romance genre. But in Yamada-kun, it's nearly the most common thing you can get! A coming of age school rom-com with supernatural elements, Yamada-kun is an excellent spiritual successor to author Yoshikawa Miki-sensei's previous manga, Yankee-kun to Megane-chan.
What is it about?
Yamada Ryuu, our titular protagonist, is known as a delinquent in his high school, the complete polar opposite to Shiraishi Urara, a model student. One fateful day, he accidentally falls down the stairs, onto Shiraishi! They wake up to find that they've switched bodies, and trying to switch back, discover that it's due to them kissing! Their use of the body switching kiss is soon discovered by the student council Vice Miyamura Toranosuke, who pressures them into reviving the Supernatural Studies Club. Their misadventures have only begun, as they encounter other 'witches' who also have powers, and again, they're all used through kissing! How will Yamada's tale end?!
Who's it for?
Anyone who's a fan of the average rom-com will find this manga pretty good. Most stereotypical personalities can be found, in a familiar setting.
It's also a good rom-com manga for those new to the genre, since it uses quite a lot of cliche but good tropes that make rom-coms shine!
What I Liked:
- The kissing. I probably sound like a perv right now, but please be aware: I am hating a lot on some mangas that really shy away from showing the kiss. It's a perfectly natural thing o do, since they're so in 'love' already. But Yamada-kun tramples on their high moral beliefs. There's also kissing for everybody! Between Yamada and Shiraishi, and also Miyamura! Fujoshi rejoice!
- Shiraishi Urara is an awesome character. This is less noticeable in the first volume, but her 'kuudere' attitude is something I miss seeing in a lot of other manga, and it's really a breath of fresh air to have a very direct heroine. It doesn't hurt that she's also the best-looking heroine for me!
- The story is rather unique, I would say. Powers that rely on kissing to happen, which range from causing affection to switching bodies are very interesting, and so is the backstory behind those powers!
- Comedy in the first volume is pretty low, consisting mainly of the antics of Yamada and Shiraishi when they swap bodies. One more major point is of course Yamada's reluctance to kiss Shiraishi, even though she willingly offers herself.
Things That Could've Been Better:
- The kissing. It's almost the most blatant use of fanservice - as an actual plot device. It will definitely turn some people off the manga. But it is definitely a necessary part of the story, and is changed quite far down the line. But again, it's a very blatant usage of fanservice.
- Yamada starts off as a very undeveloped character. Beyond his 'tsun delinquent' facade, there's much more, but this first volume fails to convey that. He's regularly plain tsun and sometimes even stupid here, and mostly acts like a joke device. Not a very good way to introduce a character, let alone the protagonist. He does show typical 'shounen' style protagonist qualities, but those are not too prominent here.
- The story, which I said earlier was very good, doesn't show that here. The first volume has terrible pacing honestly, being very slow and seemingly experimental throughout the 7 chapters. Now of course, this is the first volume, and so there should be some allowance for introductions, but again, it's a bit too slow, and may turn off some potential readers.
Final Thoughts and Verdict
This first volume did not come off so well. It's very introductory, but in a very slow way. I do assure potential readers that is only gets better. It's still a highly satisfying read for rom-com fans and also those new to manga!
Volume One Rating: 3/5 - Proceed with Caution
Yamada-kun is currently serialized in Kodansha's Weekly Shounen Magazine, and is available online on Crunchyroll. Paperbacks are available from Kodansha Comics, and there's a currently airing anime. There's also a live-action TV series, and a few OVAs.
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