CAFE KICHIJYOUJI DE by Negishi Kyouko and Yuki Miyamoto
small note: This review is based on volumes 1-2
– Serialised in Wings magazine
– Number of books: 3
– Licensed by DMP
STORY: Question: What happens when you put five goodlooking guys to work at a small but relatively popular and successful cafe? Answer: A lot of weirdness. Cafe Kichijyouji, based on a radio show and drama CD series, is not a standard serial story but instead relies on short, amusing stories involving all sorts of weirdness and fun. These five boys get into all sorts of strange yet charming situations from preparing the cafe for an interviewer to reserving a spot under the sakura trees to hang out that always resolve rather happily, and usually with a little quirk. The end of each chapter (or story, as each story is a chapter) is a small “chibi” comic which is essentially like the standard chapter, except far cuter and shorter. Each story is simple to understand, unlike many other “short story” mangas where it focuses on philosophical topics, and while some stories are pretty bland compared to others, they all bring a happy little glow to the heart and a smile to the face.
This manga is recommended for all ages…so far.
Since the story is about five boys with hardly any mention of females (the only real interaction between these boys and females is with Maki’s constant desparation and one story where Tokumi has to serve girls that he knows), there are obviously many yaoi suspicions – except that Negishi leaves little to no room for such thinking with all the stitches these boys keep ending up in just taking care of their daily lives. The only relationship each character seems to have to another is that he’s the other’s co-worker (unless you’re Maki or Tokumi but that shall be investigated further later).
The most appealing part of this set of characters, though, is that they could all pass off as the world’s biggest wuss. Each boy is armed with a weak point (or a few) that totally throws them off. None of these boys, handsome as they all are, are the typical perfect bishounen. Instead, they’re all flawed to a point and Negishi likes to exploit these points to make the stories all the more appealing.
-Kurihara Tarou: the “senpai” of the group and control freak. He’s obssessed with cleanliness and is very skilled at scrubbing everything from walls to plates and throwing brooms and plates accurately.
-Ookubo Maki: the playboy of the group who is quite similar to Youji of Weiss Kreuz except that he doesn’t smoke (so far as we know for now). He lives in a dangerously (literally) messy room, he’s a lazy bum, and probably the biggest wuss next to Tokumi of the five boys.
-Minagawa Hifumi: (reviewer’s note: Minagawa rocks my world.) the kitchen staff guy. He’s not seen a lot by the public which is probably a good thing as they’d all probably be scared of his ominous ramblings and weird affinity with crows, straw figures, superstitions, and the supernatural. Minagawa’s a sneaky guy, though, with a sly sense of humour and a habit of popping out of the most random places. He also has a close relationship with Sukekiyo.
-Tokumi Shuuta: the idiot boy who couldn’t be the idiot playboy because Maki took the ‘play’ part off of that. He’s very poor financially and desparate in many senses of the word, but has a very good heart. He keeps pet hamsters and is supposedly very good at sports. He and Maki constantly pick on each other.
-Ichinomiya Jun: the youngest boy of the five. He’s still in school and very touchy about his girl-like appearance. But don’t let this pretty face fool you. He’s also unbelievably physically strong. Jun is the little peacemaker of the group and seems to be the only one who anyone ever takes anywhere near half seriously.
-Sukekiyo: the playful, adorable black cat that wanders all over the cafe. While Sukekiyo might seem like a rip (or tribute) to Kuroneko of Trigun fame, Sukekiyo has an interactive part in some of the stories. He (she?) is adored by everyone, especially Minagawa who gets mad when anyone tries to purposely hurt Sukekiyo.
ART: At first sight of the artwork, one might wonder why I would bother to give it a 10 out of 10. After all, it looks like CG and probably is. Nonetheless, it’s beautifully done. The muted colours of the coloured work suit the mood of the manga perfectly. The black and white is simple, well spaced, and seemingly completely flawless. And there’s also no getting past that the boys are as bishounen as bishounen gets and since there’s five of them, you get one of each type. Who could ask for anything more? It would be unfair, however, to not mention the absolutely adorable chibi work that is showcased at the end of each chapter and appears throughout the chapter itself. Negishi’s chibi work is fantastic and so cute that the temptation to squeeze the pages in hopes that you’ll be hugging the chara is quite strong.
PERSONAL THOUGHTS (SPOILERIFIC): This manga I discovered off a layout. It was a focus on Minagawa and since everyone already knows of my bishounen weakness, it doesnt’ take much to figure out what motivated me to go out and find the artbook scans and some translations (compliments of mangascreener.com) and voila – I was in love. Not just with Minagawa (Though I think with that boy, it just might’ve been love at first sight. Just kidding.) and not just because of the bishounen though, but because this manga is just so unbelievably…..unbelievable. No person in the right world would be going through these situations, which is what makes it all the cuter, sweeter, and better. Like the movie Amelie (which is one of my all time favorites), each chapter leaves you with a warm glow inside and a little twinge to accompany it that begs you to remember those sweet and happier days of your life. I adore how this manga can be so wonderful and focus on 5 guys without being yaoi. It’s quite an accomplishment. That and Minagawa is just awesome. Hands off, fangirls.
Question: What’s the worst part?
Answer: This quaint and happy little cafe doesn’t exist.
Question: What’s the best part?
Answer: This manga does. And it is beautiful.