I want to do something a little different with this Manga of the Month. Normally we use this spot to bring a little attention to a series that we think is very good but maybe is not getting the attention it deserves. Or maybe we just want to gush about a series that we love. With the large amount of manga that comes out, it can be a very valuable to have someone to curate a manga library for you and we try to make some important sections. But that can be a very passive presentation. I wanted to try to try to engage everyone’s critical brain this month but also adding a bit of a project alongside my pick.
This month’s pick is Paradise Residence by the author of Oh My Goddess!.
Hatsune Takanashi lives in the dorms at the all girls Kikka Academy. This goofadoof tries her best to get through the school day and eat some curry but life has other plans. With a rival residence gunning for her, a dorm mother who is an elementary school student, and classmates who love to tease her it is going to be tough.
Is Paradise Residence the best manga I have ever spotlighted here? Nope. It is a fine manga. Definitely entertaining. Very well drawn and some scenes are downright gorgeous. It is drawn by Kosuke Fujishima so when mechanical designs come up they are amazingly detailed. Quite often the story is very funny and even occasionally touching. There is some yuri subtext for any fans of fans of stories with light sapphic elements but they are never overwhelming. Overall a good bit of light reading.
I mention that because it does have some flaws as well. There are some gratuitous pieces of fan service. Since the story is set in a dorm people will be often be changing, bathing, and wearing next to nothing in many scenes. They have an English girl who seems to shed her clothing at the mere suggestion of the drop of a hat let alone an actual chapeau falling to the ground. There is also a girl who is a total masochist who often leads to some slightly uncomfortable jokes. Also, all of the yuri subtext is clearly more fan service than anything substantial. To top it all off there is nothing resembling an overarching plot. This is 100% slice of life.
Strangely they put the volume 0 at the end of volume 1. In many ways, it feels like volume 0 should have been first but that was most probably the choice of the Japanese publisher. The story starts in the 0th volume and it even sets up a lot of jokes and relationships that make much more sense if they are read first. It is just an odd choice.
None of these are deal killers but I wanted to mention these are part of my little project. I’m going to ask you to do some reading beyond this series. It is fairly short. It is only 3 volumes. Since the first volume is actually the first volume and the prolog volume you could consider it 4 volumes but overall it is a series you can knock out in a single night if you wanted. Once you have done that go and read some Oh My Goddess!. At most 2 volumes. Preferably one volume from the first ten and then one from the last ten. I’m not asking anyone to read 48 volumes of any series as a side project. Just read enough to get a sense of his revelation as a manga-ka. Then try to answer a few questions.
- How has Kosuke Fujishima style changed over the years? Where has his art gotten more simplified or detailed over the years? Has his storytelling grown or changed?
- Why did Oh My Goddess! last for 26 years but Paradise Residence never catch on the same way?
- What are the strengths of Paradise Residence over Oh My Goddess and vice versa?
- What about each series is characteristically Kosuke Fujishima?
As a bonus you could also try to read some You’re Under Arrest and use that to add to previous questions but that seems a bit above and beyond. Also almost every library I have ever encountered has at least one volume of Oh My Goddess! It seems to be the backbone of the inventory of any library like Bleach and Naruto. So you can do this without having to spend any money.
I’m not going to do this on a regular basis. In two months I should be back to my format but I wanted to see how much anyone was interested in something a little outside of the regular format.