Sunday, August 16, 2009

Manga Review: Ichiroh!

Manga Riview # 002
Title: Ichiroh!
MSRP: US $ 10.99 (CAN $ 11.99)

Greetings and salutations! I am Richard J., the Navigator of this Blog of a Heretical Dub Lover!

Welcome to our second ever manga review! Yah, clap clap. Today I'm reviewing Ichiroh! written and drawn by Mikage! I've read this one numerous times since I bought it and I love it in all it's 4-koma goodness. Our guest reviewer today will explain a few reasons why!

Captain Teletha Testarossa: Reporting for duty sir!


Richard J.: Thanks for giving me a hand. And can I play with your hair?

Tessa: You're welcome and no.

Richard J.: Darn.

Tessa: Before you discuss this manga, I need to properly introduce readers to the product.

Here is the front cover. It features our main heroine, Nanako Konishi, described as "levelheaded for her age" on the character bio page. She's highly practical and always trying to save money. Also featured on the cover are chibi versions of her best friends Akane Nakazawa and Shino Murasaki.


Tessa: And now the back cover. Here we have a rare scene of all three girls together relaxing.


Tessa: Now, I turn the blog back over to Richard J. for a bit to tell you the plot. I haven't been able to read it yet. Classified operations really make personal manga time a no no.

Richard J.: You should make time for this one Tessa! And so should my readers, at least in my humble opinion.

Ichiroh! is the story of Nanako, Akane and Shino, three girls who are the best of friends (though Shino would like to be a bit more than just friends with Nanako) and their journey together into college life! They've been together through elementary school, junior high and high school, so staying together in college is just natural! They'll be together through it all!

Or at least that was what they'd intended. Studious Nanako and gamer girl Akane messed up and failed their entrance exams! Now, the two are ronin, students who are preparing to re-take the entrance exams after failing. Specifically, they are first-year ronin or ichiroh! Hence the series title. (Thanks to Yen Press's translation notes this is clear. Without them, I'd have no idea why the manga was called that!)

Nanako and Akane move into a dormitory behind a shrine, due to the savings Nanako is desperate for, and begin attending a prep school to get ready for another shot at the entrance exams. A good bit of plot takes place there. The series takes quite a bit of humor from the trials of studying and uncertainty about college with Nanako. Akane only really takes the whole thing seriously late in the manga and makes herself quite sick near the end. (It's surprisingly emotional seeing the resident genki girl have a physical breakdown. Also hilarious when Shino tries to take care of her.)

As you can guess, Ichiroh! features a lot of student humor so it's easy to relate to. However, if that's not your cup of tea, fear not! There is plenty of funny to go around with Nanako's occasional moments where she becomes a bit obsessive or out matures her own father and older brother (though it's not hard to out mature the brother!) Also, the series has Shino and even Akane dashing in surprising amounts of Yuri subtext. Actually, it's very possible that the subtext isn't subtext at all, with Shino outright declaring herself the love rival of a male who loves Nanako.

Although she can't attend prep school classes with Nanako and Akane, Shino appears quite often and always stirs things up. Her outgoing and friendly personality belies her inner schemer. When she shows up, you can expect her to fawn over Nanako and try to get closer to her. For the resident rich girl, she's almost as wild as Akane. Other major characters are Nanako's brother, the shy otaku girl Mai Shindou, teacher Kaname Mitsuba, Anko-san and Baa-san who run the dormitory and shrine and the prankster Wakaba-chan, a young girl from the neighborhood. Even with a strong supporting cast this is still the main three girl's show.

On a personal note, when I read this one, I tend to assign English dub VAs to the characters and try to hear the characters as those VAs would play them. Nanako is Luci Christian, Akane is Monica Rial and Shino is Kira Vincent-Davis in my mind.

I would love to see this series made into anime and dubbed with these VAs.

The balance of humor and seriousness in this manga is tipped in humor's favor but it has it's drama moments. This is a comedy first and foremost though. Slice-of-life is the name of the game and while there are bits of Yuri subtext and the otaku favorite miko/shrine maiden, it's first and foremost a student comedy. I have a lot of favorite scenes with this one. Too many to mention in fact!

As a Yen Press title, you can expect a high level of production quality and Ichiroh! is no exception. There are a total of 8 color pages, which includes the entire short arc of the initial entrance exams as well as the character intro page.

Tessa: Here are a few examples. This is the first color page, a cute image that really shows you to the character's relationships.


Tessa: Next, here's a shot of the bio page and the first page of strips in color.


Richard J.: Thanks Tessa! Just a few more shots to go!

Let me tell you readers, paper quality is as good as always with Ichiroh! Mikage does quite a good job with character designs as well, really bringing them to life. The eyes are especially expressive. Eyes can range from blank white circles to intricately detailed pupils and irises. My favorite eyes are Nanako's when she's glaring and squinting at something and Akane's super-excited blank eyes. Akane's hair is also styled to look like cat ears, which just adds to her moe-factor. (She's like a little kid most of the time but she's also extremely observant and understands the hidden motivations of other characters.)

Single character focused art appears frequently throughout the manga as well.

Tessa: Yes. Here is an example of one of the focus images of Nanako.


Richard J.: If you can read the strip next to it, you can enjoy Akane expressing the threat of studying to her life.

Ichiroh! includes translation notes and an Omake section that talks about the covers that Nanako graced for the magazine that serialized this series in Japan. This is also a chance to explain the seemingly out-of-characterness of them. It's really quite clever in my opinion.

Well, that does it for this review I think. Tessa, any final words?

Tessa: I'd like to say that from what I've seen of this series, it's quite nice and a must buy for any 4-koma fan. I empathize with Nanako's brother trouble too. Although mine are a bit different.


Tessa: Thank you for the chance to meet your readers! If any of you have time and some money, please consider buying Funimation's release of Full Metal Panic!: The Second Raid on DVD and soon to be on Blu-Ray as well as ADV's release of Full Metal Panic! and Full Metal Panic!: FUMOFFU! Thank you again!

Richard J.: Always my pleasure Tessa!

Ichiroh! is available at this fine retailers and others: Robert's Anime Corner Store, The Right Stuf, Amazon and Books-A-Million! I highly recommend this one to all of you, especially if you are a 4-koma fan!

Look forward to a contest in September folks and a rant before the end of the month. (You did ask for it!) I'll have an anime review or two this week as well.

Hope you enjoyed this latest blog entry. I'm so grateful to all of my readers, both following this blog actively and lurking in the shadows. Although I'm mostly doing this for my own fun, I really appreciate your continued support! Please let other know of this blog if you think they'd like it!



  1. Yay Tessa! Even though I've only seen Fumoffu, I thought Tessa was a pretty nice character in the FMP series.

    On Ichiroh!, I must say it definitely looks interesting and fun. I may just check it out sometime. ^^

  2. This sounds like a series to look at. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    There is one thing that kind of bothers me a little, and that is Akane. I don't know if you've seen the excellent comedy series Pani Poni Dash!, but Akane looks like Akane Serizawa from that series. She has blue hair, some weird animal ears-type hairdo, and.....I just can't get it out of my head. I wonder if its a refference or something. Ironically, her English VA is Luci Christian.

    Look forward to more posts on here!

  3. I have seen Pani Poni Dash! but the comparison didn't pop into my head. This Akane has a fairly different personality, though you have a bit of a point on the character design.

    And trust me, Monica Rial in hyper mode would best suit Ichiroh!'s Akane.