High school politics, drama, and relationships gleaned from the “objective” bespectacled Kanoko, provide for a humorous diversion from a typical teen shojo.
The Gist: Kanoko Naedeko is a third year junior high student. She prefers to be an objective observer, and is a loner with no close friends. She keeps a record book of all the complex relationships she sees occurring in her classes. These she likes to refer to as her secret notes. When drawn into a situation at school, she ends up becoming more than just an observer. Will forming relationships end Kanoko’s objectivity?
Characters/Romance: Kanoko is a very likable character despite her objective attitude and lack of relationships. I could really relate to her experiences with other girls, and why she would choose to be alone. Her amount of intelligence and attention to detail shows how clever she is, but because of her age, she is not very observant of herself. She finds herself drawn into some interesting situations. The popular boy Tsubaki, pictured on the cover, repeatedly shows up at whatever school Kanoko is attending. His interest irritates Kanoko, as well as her own response to another popular boy, Natsukusa. She’s suppose to be objective, how can she like a boy? These responses to the opposite sex as well as Kanoko’s oblivious sense of “objectivity” keeps the characters interesting and enjoyable. My only hesitation with this series is how many schools Kanoko will attend. She is already attending three different ones in the first volume, and that is how each story arch begins, with Kanoko at a different school. It will become a tiresome cliché after a couple of volumes.
Artwork: Flipping through the pages, the one thing that turns me off to Tsujita’s artwork is the amount of toning. Some of the pages seem smothered in it, and other times it just seems unnecessary. I wasn’t so distracted by it that it kept me from enjoying the story, though. I really enjoy her character designs and find Kanoko to be downright cute. She has the “moe-glasses” thing going on. The drawings tend to be very detailed, and I like the contrast between the more realistic, blushing Kanoko, and the chibi, grinning-glasses Kanoko.
Audience: Tokyopop rates this one Teen. Nothing naughty going on, and not any complex relationships really. I think that the issues Kanoko addresses in the stories would be great for teen girls to view.
Media: The Secret Notes of Lady Kanoko volume 1 available from Tokyopop. Volume 2 is expected to be released on April 5, 2011.
Heart of Manga Rating: ♥♥♥ Recommend.
A fun read for relaxing by the pool.