Story – 9/10
I have read enough shoujo mangas to know that there are limits to which a story can develop. That’s why most series end up in cliche love triangles, complicated family backgrounds… or at least, those are my thoughts. So after reading Dengeki Daisy (in a total of 4 sittings), I became a little ecstatic that I finally stumbled upon another one of those ‘cliche breaking’ stories; even though at first it didn’t seem like one at all.
The story opens with Kurebayashi Teru – poor, honour roll student – defending her friend against the student council bullies who, you guessed it, are rich and at the top of the school only to be helped out by a mysterious figure named ‘Daisy’, an unknown person promised by her dying brother to forever protect her. It was only the first 10 pages, and my cliche radar was already this close to bursting, but you know what they say about judging by the cover.
Unlike similar stories which confine themselves to their school settings, this mangaka had no qualms with expanding beyond, slowly bringing the heroine (and readers) into an exciting world of secrets and hackers. What is great about that is not only the uniqueness of the setting, but also how natural the development was. Motomi Kyousuke nails the art of plot development by upping the intensity with each arc, foreshadowing in the dialogue before each event, and staying away from the ‘sudden development’ trope typical in this genre.
Another thing I think is great is how he took the time to properly develop this ‘new world’ that the heroine is entering. While there is focus on romance, he doesn’t make that an excuse to leave out any details in the story. In a way, he chooses to develop the relationships by showing their responses to the situations and how they support each other after that. For example, showing Teru’s reaction to Daisy being accused of being a criminal. Personally, I find that a lot more interesting since the pair gets tested in more serious situations compared to the typical ‘school camp’ or ‘culture festival’ dramatics. Fangirls will definitely appreciate the additional depth the relationship has, having seen how much they can go through together.
This is also beginning to remind me of Full Moon wo Sagashite, whose author used a similar tactic to approach the romance elements in the story.
But besides all that, the story itself is very tight. There are few noticeable plot holes, the pacing is just right, and it manages to hit its climax flawlessly without any disappointments following it. The mangaka also displayed great balance between the drama, romance and also comedy. The switches between light-hearted and dramatic moments are almost flawless, making me laugh out loud in one panel then making my heart ache in another. Readers who go into this expecting another typical shoujo story will definitely be surprised and delighted at this one.
Character – 8/10
The character design is where the shoujo tropes begin to appear, especially in their personalities. The heroine is hardworking, loyal, and selfless. The hero is mischievous, sexy, devoted to the heroine, and is seemingly good at everything. Now, where I have I seen this pairing before…
|Ayuzawa Misaki (left) and Usui Takumi (right) from Kaichou wa Maid-sama
…Oh, right. Here’s a fact: Kaichou wa Maid-sama released two years before Dengeki Daisy did, and is probably when this character combination first became popular (and it still is now). I wouldn’t be surprised if Motomi-sensei took ‘inspiration’ from that for his series, but I’m not feeling any rage about it since his character development is so great.
Just take the heroine for example. [Mild spoiler alert] Even though she is hardworking, loyal and selfless, she also has self-doubts, can be self-deprecating and unforgiving. There are moments when she punishes herself because of how guilty she feels, and that is when Daisy comes into the picture as one of the only people who can understand. The reasoning to her feelings mostly links back to how she finds it hard to overcome her past traumas and because of that, throughout the manga, she is still finding ways to run away because she cannot face it yet. [Mild spoiler end]
Compared to Misaki (above), Teru is definitely closer to a real human in that emotional reasoning. And personally, I prefer it that way. For once, we get a main character that doesn’t have it all figured out, who does need the support of others when she is breaking down, and can make mistakes over and over again. Even though she is still a shoujo heroine and has her cliche bits, it is all the imperfections, inconsistencies, and the reasoning behind crucial decisions that make her more relatable and complex. The shoujo universe definitely needs more characters like this.
Besides the individual character development, the couple’s development was just as satisfying. Firstly, as a fan girl, it was truly fulfilling. Even though Dengeki Daisy has relatively less ‘action’ in each chapter compared to many other series, somehow there is this sense of warmth and security from just seeing the two together. Now, I’m not saying this with my shipping goggles on (at least, I don’t think they’re on). It is because, like I said under the ‘story’ section, their relationship is so much deeper. Their understanding of each other is built on years of communication and support, almost like osananajimi (childhood friend) love stories. I think readers will definitely like that part of their relationship and how much more it can fill your heart compared to other school life shoujo manga.
Secondly, as a reviewer, I appreciate the mangaka’s sense of timing. A lot of shoujo mangas try to rush development to give readers quicker gratification, but he did not. The couple’s first kiss, first date etc. all happened when their relationship reached that point of intimacy. Personally, I feel that it made the couple more precious and real to readers. I would almost classify the series into the Romance genre if more of its Shoujo elements disappeared.
[Note: Romance genres usually consist of more serious and realistic love stories, while Shoujo genres are more about fulfilling love fantasies.]
But of course, not everyone will share my opinion. Some whom are used to lots of ‘doki doki’ moments in their shoujo manga may be unsatisfied with the relatively low frequency in this series. Like I said earlier, it’s because the mangaka is taking his time to develop this relationship and not rush into the ‘sudden development’ trope. Understandably though, some readers still prefer more moments since this is in the shoujo genre after all.
Artwork – 6/10
For a manga from the older generation, the art style is pretty to look at. Even readers who prefer the current shoujo styles would be able to appreciate it since it is not that decrepit. However, I still wouldn’t give it too high a rating since there are reoccurring proportion problems, such as eyes and nose not aligned properly on the face, or just the face proportions looking a bit awkward in some panels.Other than that, I wouldn’t say the art style is particularly unique. The background scenery is average at best – which is typical for this genre – and I already said my piece about the human drawings. It is just pretty in general, but still not measurable to the clean and crisp art styles of more modern shoujo mangas.
Dengeki Daisy may seem predictable at first, but it soon develops into a dramatic story about hackers, dedication and traumatic pasts. The story and character development, in my opinion, is top notch. Although some readers may be unsatisfied by the relatively low frequency of ‘doki doki’ moments, that is the only major opposition I can give to this series.