I have to give Johanna all the credit for me picking up this volume of manga. If I had seen just the title and the cover art for this volume, I would have scrolled over to the next “recommended” manga on my Amazon list. The cover art background looks overwhelmingly girlie, and the couple on the cover looked too cliche for my shoujo veteran self. In short I judged the book by its cover, it seemed like your typical most unnoticeable girl in school catches the eye of the most desirable boy in school by being “different” from the rest plot that I’ve read quite a few times over. There are very few shoujo heroines I’ve read that have been different from the pack in a noticeable way. Their way of thinking may be unique within their own little manga world, but when you take out the heroine of each shoujo manga and face them off…there are very few that still stand on top as being unique. Kanako is one of the few that have made that cut for me, and this series stands a good chance at being one of the most entertaining shoujo series I’ve ever encountered. And for me, this is saying a lot, Skip Beat! has been the indisputable ruler of my shoujo world for the last 3-4 years.
Kanoko is a 3rd year middle school student that has dedicated herself as an observer of her classmates. She doesn’t make friends with those around her and limits her interactions so that she can remain unbiased. As a result she tends to be able to quickly understand the hidden personalities of those around her, and figure out their secrets. Even though Kanoko believes that remaining impartial and removed is the most important part of her life, she frequently will step in and get involved in situations to right wrongs.
This story was meant to be a stand alone single chapter (according to the author’s notes), however due to the overwhelming response of fans The Secret Notes of Lady Kanoko was made into a series. Kanoko is placed into different surroundings in almost every chapter, for some reason she is transferred to different schools a lot. This gives her a constant stream of fresh new characters and situations to observe. I know this sounds like a cheap trick to stop plot from getting stale, but in this series it’s a very successful approach that is what helps make this story unique. It’s like I get to experience the sensation of starting a fresh shoujo manga over and over again within each chapter. Although past characters aren’t simply forgotten, every character Kanoko comes across in her journeys has the potential to pop up again. And thank goodness for that, after all, what would a shoujo heroine be if she didn’t have at least a few somewhat consistent main characters in her life 😉
I have to tip my hat to Tokyopop, this was an amazing shoujo series to be brought over the United States. I recommend it to all those who love shoujo, ESPECIALLY those that have read a considerable number of series and are tired of the same old plot. This series plays through those same old shoujo stories you’ve seen hundreds of times before, except gives them a refreshing new point of view. The main heroine Kanoko is especially amusing as she easily sidesteps and puts down the tyical shoujo traps laid down by classmates that other heroines always seem to fall for far too easily. Her gruff and sarcastic personality has surely won my heart. I can’t stop myself from casually re-reading this volume over and over. I can’t wait until more volumes are released.