Story/Art: Miki Yoshikawa
Translation: David Rhie
What They Say:
Class troublemaker Ryu Yamada is already having a bad day when he stumbles down a staircase along with star student Urara Shiraishi. When he wakes up, he realizes they have switched bodies—and that Ryu has the power to trade places with anyone else just by kissing them! After figuring out the workings behind this new and amazing ability, Ryu and Urara take full advantage of the situation to improve their lives. But with such an oddly amazing power, just how long will Ryu and Urara be able to keep their secret under wraps?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Yamada-kun (and the seven witches) is finally here!! I’ve been loving this series on Crunchyroll manga, taking the suggestion from a few folks to pick it up to watch, for quite a while now and I’m glad to be able to write about it. I’ll keep spoilers for future volumes out of my reviews, of course, but I want to say that, now 156 chapters in, Yamada-kun is still going strong. We only got seven chapters this time!! That’s at least 22ish more volumes of precious Yamada-kun.
So Yamada-kun is a pretty silly comic that starts off with two social outcasts—Yamada who is the punk and Shiraishi who is the brainy cute girl who has trouble making friends—that happen to accidentally kiss and switch bodies. Yamada-kun does the typical guy looking at girl’s body and girl looking at guy’s body (but that’s never shown Yoshikawa-sensei!! Equal opportunity fanservice please!) thing of switching bodies, but that’s not really the appeal here. The appeal is the characters so readily accepting this body switching as fact and using it to their own advantage. What do you do when you can switch bodies with an honor student? You have her take your tests for you. An unwitting consequence of this is that Shiraishi finally gains friends through the actions of Yamada.
It helps that Yamada and Shiraishi, two characters that couldn’t be more different, have such good chemistry with each other. It’s clear there’s an attraction from Shiraishi to Yamada, but he’s oblivious. It’s their initial interplay that brings you into the series and warms your heart. It’s the constant introduction of new characters that keeps Yamada-kun really fun.
I do have to deal with the big elephant in the room regarding Kodansha’s books, particularly Yamada-kun and My Little Monster. I haven’t yet experienced it on Attack on Titan, but the former two Kodansha books have HUGE gutter issues. There are times when I can’t read what the bubble is actually saying and I have to parse it out based on context. And even then it takes forever! It’s so frustrating and the problem is I LOVE My Little Monster and Yamada-kun and there’s no way I’m not buying these books. But damn they’re hard to read. The good news is that Kodansha has finally acknowledged this issue and they’re saying that they will be fixed on future volumes and reprints, if the books get reprints. I hate to be pessimistic, but I’ll believe it when I see it. It’s especially sad considering books like Vinland Saga, also from Kodansha, are some of the most gorgeous books I’ve held in my hands. And at $10.99, it isn’t that much for a comic of Viz’s quality (which is not bad at all!). It’s only the gutters I hate.
I love Yamada-kun the manga so much and I hate to sully the review with gutter issues, but it had to be said. That’s right, sad face in the review. Anyway, Yamada-kun is tons of fun and there’s a lot to bite down on. We’ve barely scratched the surface thus far, much less learned what these witches are nor why there are seven of them! But this series is carried on Yamada’s shoulders and it’s his personality leads them into the breach very well indeed. Despite being an outcast, he’s a leader and he’s able to carry the weight of the school with him. In just one volume, he’s managed to brighten Shiraishi’s life and that’s achievement enough.
Content Grade: A-
Art Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: C
Text/Translation Grade: A-
Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: March 31, 2015