Manga of the Now: Zettai Karen Children
Greetings loyal readers. Sorry for neglecting my blog for so long, but a combination of school work and computer problems kept me from blogging. But now that it’s summer and I have more time, I plan to be writing more than usual. Since there isn’t much that looks interesting this summer, I will use this opprtunity to catch up on and write about some older titles. Along with that, if anything catches my eye, I will write about it as the “Anime/Manga of the Now.” To kick off, I will start with Zettai Karen Children, a series that refuses to take itself seriously.
When I say that Zettai Karen Children doesn’t take itself seriously, I mean that as a compliment. These days, we have too much anime and manga that take their premise so damn seriously that it stops being entertaining. A prime example of this is Shakugan no Shana. It would have been a much better show if they stopped focusing on backstory and explanations, and focused a bit more on the characters and the tsundere romance. The one redeeming factor of Shana is the Shanatan specials, as I it makes me think that the staff thought that it took its shit way too seriously as well, and decided to redeem it by making fun of itself.
Getting back to the original point, Zettai Karen Children is a silly series. To sum up the plot, in the near future, ESPers start to appear, with powers such as psychokinesis or teleportation. the story follows Japan’s three strongest ESPers, Kaoru the psychokinetic, Aoi the Teleporter, and Shiho the psychometer; and their supervisor, Minamoto. The four go on to fight villains and save the day, while trying to maintain a normal life. It’s basically the Powerpuff Girls, with a little more depth to the characters.
The characters are probably the manga’s strongest point. Everyone, hero or villain is somehow likable. The heroes are good natured, but also comically flawed. The villains are equally flawed, and few of them are truly evil, and are often driven by childish motives. The author’s awareness of his target audience is demonstrated in the dialogue and jokes. The characters often comment on moe appeal, and this self awareness makes it lots of fun to read.
The author occasionally tries to give the main girls some depth, and I applaud him for doing so gracefully. One problem I have with a lot of comedy manga is that when they try to develop the characters, it feels forced and heavy handed, and ruins the mood. Hayate no Gotoku suffers from this at times, especially when revealing the pasts of the characters. However, it usually redeems itself by following up with a pure comedy chapter. Zettai Karen Children is different in that it manages to develop the characters, and relieve the tension all within the same story.
What I find interesting about this series, is that while it is completely episodic, there is an underlying plot that keeps me intrigued. It is predicted that the girls will eventually lead ESPers in a war against humans, like in X-men. Minamoto naturally wants to stop this future, as part of the vision shows him killing Kaoru. So far, the series hasn’t gotten far enough to show whether the prediction will come true or not, but that’s part of what keeps me intrigued.
One problem I have is the author’s loose definition of ESP. At first, most of the villains had more traditional powers like psychokinesis. But as the series progresses, the powers get stranger and further from the actual definition of ESP. For example, one ESPer dresses like Hard Gay and can turn people to metal with a laser from his crotch. However, you quickly get over this and just accept that the author didn’t want to completely rip off X-Men and call them mutants or something along those lines.
My other major issue is the inevitable romantic tension between Minamoto and the girls. Now that the girls are in middle school like in the image above (the difference 2 years makes for these girls baffles me), this tension has become more prominent, and it disturbs me at times. Think about it. Three elementary/middle school kids are hitting on a man in his early twenties. This is Kodomo no Jikan level shit. While Minamoto resists their advances, other characters push the romance, making me worry that the author is revealing a bit too much about his personal taste in women.
The art is pretty basic, and has the typical clean look that is prominent in modern manga. The reactions and exaggerated faces remind me of stuff from the early 90s. As for the anime adaptation, I have only seen the first 13 episodes, but I really enjoyed what I saw. Similarly to SynergySP’s previous show, Hayate no Gotoku, the Zettai Karen Children anime is a kids anime aimed at adults. While its much more faithful to the source material than Hayate, enough is added to make watching the anime feel like a fresh experience. There are some great voices behind this show, the most prominent being Hirano Aya as Kaoru, who plays the role perfectly.
I strongly recommend Zettai Karen Children. It’s one of the better comedies I’ve read in a while, and while it doesn’t bring anything new to the table, it is a lot of fun to read. The best part is that the scanlators update have been releasing new chapters on a daily basis for the past couple months, so there will always be something new to read. The anime is also worth watching, although the only sub group who did it, Chihiro, has been slow in releasing the batch torrents as they had some heavy revision to do for some episodes. Also, the anime ends right before the middle school story arc, which leaves a lot of loose ends open, so reading the manga is probably inevitable for those who want to find out what happens next. Go check it out. I don’t think you will be disappointed.
That’s it for now. Doesn’t feel as good as previous articles, but I guess I’m a little rusty since I haven’t written anything like this in a long time. The other series that has been consuming my life recently is 20th Century Boys. I read the first 90 chapters in one sitting yesterday. It truly is a masterpiece. I also have 2 weeks worth of unwatched anime that I need to catch up on. You don’t realize how much anime you watch per week until you try to watch it all in one sitting. Until next time loyal Hard Workers.