Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Aho-Girl Volume 2 Review

Chronicling the misadventures of the incredibly stupid title character Yoshiko Hanabatake and her put upon friends family and acquaintances. While this volume also focuses on side characters like the Head Monitor who has become an obsessed stalker of Yoshiko's childhood friend (also the straight man of the series) Akkun. Along with the standard collection of school days stories and slapstick and comedy through misapprehension. Aho-Girl works within the basic structure of a four panel Manga meaning that while there are some long form story arcs in the volume most the volume is dedicated to rapid fire jokes usually based around how incredibly stupid Yoshiko is. Along with numerous references to Japanese pop culture, Manga, Anime, and word puns all of which are helpfully explained with translator's notes in the back. How enjoyable one finds this volume will depend on how much you find the idea of an incredibly stupid girl forcing herself upon life and those that are forced to deal with her. Akkun for the most part simply feels like Yoshiko is the proverbial albatross around his neck. While he is also held up for ridicule with his friendless solitary existence. Making for a rather mean spirited series which I honestly find refreshing as four panel Manga or what gets licensed in America tends to either anodyne Moe series or slice of life series that feel aimless and plodding. Aho-Girl however feels more like a work by Fujio Akatsuka a throw back to anarchic and often scatological Gag Manga of the Seventies and Sixties and while a series like Crayon Shin-Chan could be argued that it had a greater message of not taking one's self so seriously. Aho-Girl has none of that it simply asks you to laugh derisively at an incredibly stupid girl and the collection of oddball side characters that gravitate around the black hole of ignorance that is Yoshiko. One could make a case that there is a kind of latent misogyny but the series is more apt to ridicule Yoshiko for her stupidity or determination to have fun than use her as a writ large example of all the foibles of Womankind as a whole. As is volume two of Aho-Girl is distilled slapstick that makes for a fast paced and sometimes second-hand embarrassing series. In particular, anytime the series switches focus toward the Head Monitor and her obsessed love with Akkun. Especially since Akkun sees her as just some weird girl that is around him. If nothing else and not to damn the series with faint praise it is fun. Often times in reviewing Manga it is a temptation to invest the medium you review with an importance or profundity it often does not have or aspire to as a mass medium. Aho-Girl is the perfect example of a series that is simple minded fun and unashamedly so for that, I commend it to readers as Manga needs in some ways to be saved from its own fans need to make it more important than it really is.

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