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review 2017-12-10 03:03
Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto (manga, vol. 2) by Nami Sano, translated by Adrienne Beck
Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto Vol. 2 - Nami Sano

Sakamoto tutors Yoshinobu (the bullied kid from volume 1) while deftly avoiding and finally defusing Yoshinobu's amorous mother. Then Sakamoto outwits a teacher bent on believing he's trouble, even managing to add the teacher to his list of admirers due to a kind act he performs. Then there are a few shorter episodes: dealing with a slug in cooking class, drawing a classmate in a way that manages to be both flattering and insulting, and saving a classmate during a fire drill (?). The volume ends with a group of delinquents pursuing Sakamoto and always just missing him. As they try to find him, they hear about his past mysterious exploits. Then there's an incident involving a delinquent trying to pick a fight with Sakamoto and ending up in a bizarre push fight against him.

I don't know why I requested this. I shouldn't have. I disliked the first volume, which I felt had too much an "uncanny valley" feeling to it to truly be funny. I mean, this series is supposed to be a comedy right? I'm not misunderstanding?

I had similar issues while reading this volume. I'm sorry, but Sakamoto makes my skin crawl, and I can't bring myself to laugh at the situations he deals with. I wonder if a different artist would change things. Technically, Sakamoto and the things he does aren't that different from the occasional humorous bits in Black Butler, where Sebastian accomplishes seemingly impossible feats in order to properly serve his master. I love that stuff in Black Butler, but it doesn't work for me at all here.

The first part of this volume was particularly awful. Yoshinobu's mother struck me as a pitiful woman, and I disliked that the volume seemed to be asking readers to laugh at her and her efforts to corner Sakamoto. Not only that, she was attempting to molest a teenage boy - not something I'd consider good comedy material.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2016-11-25 22:44
Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto (manga, vol. 1) by Nami Sano, translated by Adrienne Beck
Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto Vol. 1 - Sano Nami

Sakamoto, a new and popular student, coolly and calmly deals with jealous bullies, a wasp, a kid who keeps getting bullied for his lunch money, a scheming girl who wants to make him her boyfriend, and a guy who uses him and other students as his slaves. There's also an extra story called “Broad Shoulders” that I think is unrelated to this series, but it's hard to tell because the main character looked an awful lot like Sakamoto. At any rate, the kid in that story was being bullied for his shoulder pads for some bizarre reason.

I found out about this series via a review somewhere, and I was really excited about it. I figured it would be humorous and weird. Instead, the humor generally fell flat, and the whole thing was weird in an uncanny valley sort of way. The characters looked just “off” enough that I was too busy being creeped out to enjoy this much. I really wasn't a fan of the artwork, which was a little too stiff for my tastes.

Some of the stories were also disturbing enough to make me question whether I have this series' genre wrong. In the story with the kid whose lunch money was being stolen, for example, Sakamoto wouldn't help him until after he'd gotten a job. After the kid tried to stand up to his bullies himself, he told Sakamoto that the lesson he'd learned was this: “I don't need to protect myself or my money, only my pride.” I sort of understand what Sano was trying to get across here, but still...fighting against his bullies could have landed him in the hospital or even gotten him killed if Sakamoto hadn't swooped in to help. In the first story, several bullies tied Sakamoto up and planned to strip him down, take pictures, and send the pictures to everyone. And I still don't know what to think about the story with the guy who was making other students his slaves.

It also bugged me that Sakamoto didn't seem to be interested in helping people so much as studying them and testing his theories about human behavior. There were indications that Sakamoto wasn't human. He refused to say his given name, the only information he gave about his past was that he'd once attended a place called “Innocence Academy,” and he had inhuman physical abilities. He might be a robot, or an alien, or something else entirely. At this point, my best guess is that he's an alien, living on Earth specifically to study human behavior.

If I do continue reading this series, it'll primarily be for the mystery of Sakamoto's origins and identity. None of the other characters were at all interesting or very memorable, Sakamoto's solutions to various situations weren't really that big of a draw, and the artwork kind of creeped me out. I really don't know what Sano was going for here. I mean, the series also included a lot of what I'd normally call fanservice, with many panels of shirtless or barely clothed Sakamoto and other characters, but it wasn't so much sexy as it was discomfiting and vaguely disturbing.

That said, there were still a few nice moments. For instance, I liked the panel in which Sakamoto demonstrated that he could easily remain in a seated position even after his chair had been stolen out from under him.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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