I always wonder how much those stickers that say “From the artist who brought you Title X” help sales. Did “From the Author of Fruits Basket” help Yen Press with the sales of Twinkle Stars? Fruits Basket was one of most popular manga back in the day whereas I never hear anyone talking about Twinkle Stars. Now you can’t make a statement like mentioning a previous title will boost the sales of a new title by a fixed 46% because there are too many factors. Did the artist have one title with mass appeal that caught on but their other works are too esoteric? Will their initial audience go along with an artist if they go with a radically different direction? Are the readers burnt out on the formula of the artist’s last title? Was the initial success just a product of right time right place? Most of the time you would be foolish not to remind people of some earlier successes if you have the chance. It is a low effort way to possibly greatly increase your sales. The real question is how much is that boost with any particular title.
I mostly bring this up because I have at last one example of it working. When I went to the library I was a manga I had not heard of before. When I looked to see what it is about I saw a sticker that said, “story and art by Mitsurou Kubo the co-creator of Yuri!!! on ICE.” Now Sayo Yamamoto clearly shaped a good deal of what that anime would be but any anime is a collaborative work. The thing is Mitsurou Kubo has credits for her work on the original concept, the character designs, character names, insert song lyrics, and screenplay of all 12 episodes. She pretty much worked on everything that people liked about that show other than the animation. The sticker might as well have said, “may contain everything you liked from that ice skating show.”
So I had to see what this series is about. We go from the world of professional ice skating to time traveling oendan. You can’t say that the woman just has one story to tell with slight variations.
Kinichirou Imamura and Seiya Chiba from Yankee-kun to Megane-chan were born under the same unfortunate star. Since Kinichirou looks like a delinquent everyone at school avoids him leading him to have a depressing and lonely time at school. After graduating he looks back on the old school building with regrets of what could have been if he had just found a way out of his shell. But when he runs into the spoiled princess Akira Fujieda they wind up time traveling back to the first day of their freshman year. Both of them now have a second chance at their High School life. Kinichirou takes his foreknowledge and joins the oendan club he originally skipped on joining in order to save it whereas Akira is just trying to regain the pampered life she originally had.
I actually brought up Yankee-kun to Megane-chan in the description for more than just a little Miki Yoshikawa name dropping. Again!! feels like a more serious version of something that Miki Yoshikawa would have written about a pair of kids who get to relive their High School years and put right what once went wrong. If the standard Miki Yoshikawa series is 70% comedy and 30% drama then it seems a Mitsuro Kubo series is 30% comedy and 70% drama. The comedy elements are still strong they are just more of the element used to frequently break the dramatic blocks. Also, Kinichirou Imamura is like a Daichi Shinagawa turned up to 11 with some Seiya Chiba thrown into the mix.
This is also a cast of very broken characters much like something from a Miki Yoshikawa manga. Sometimes manga can be filled with really good people who just happen to end up in bad situations due to circumstances. Most everyone in Again!! has a major set of crippling flaws. Imamura has clearly been scarred by his years of isolation and often lashes out at times when simple diplomacy would save the day. Akira is a mess of a human being who landed in a sweet spot in the original timeline but her flaws are ever-present when she is removed from her ideal environment. The leader of the oendan, Yoshiko Usami, is an earnest woman but she is stupidly stubborn and has some very toxic ideas about romance. The rest of the oendan team and the people they meet are equally broken. It is clear that the cast of Again!! repeated their mistakes for four years because their major malfunctions are deep-seated.
As I said anime is a collaborative work so there is no guarantee when left on their own an individual artist can replace that success. Again!! shows that Mitsurou Kubo is no one hit wonder.