Kōsuke Fujishima is another veteran of the manga industry, having started his professional creative career in 1986 after having spent time working in editorial and as an art assistant. Since that time he has built a successful career in manga and character design for video games. He is well known for his debut manga series You’re Under Arrest and his character design work for the video game series Sakura Wars and Tales. But it was the romantic comedy/fantasy manga series Oh My Goddess which made him a force to be reckoned with. Running for nearly 26 years from 1988 to 2014, the series was a huge hit and best seller amongst both Eastern and Western manga fandoms and received several beloved anime adaptations. Naturally, most of Fujishima’s time was dedicated to Oh My Goddess during this period, with his design work being his only other source of creative output. However, in 2008 it was announced that Fujishima would be launching his first new series since Oh My Goddess, which is what shall be discussed today.
Hatsune Takanashi is a girl of simple tastes. Curry and friends are among her favourite things, but more than anything, pudding is her true love in life. She’s begun her new high school life at Kitsuka Academy, an all-girl boarding school high atop a mountain, and is looking forward to making new friends and eating some great food. Hatsune is guaranteed to have new and exciting experiences, but with a grade-schooler house mother, a mean rival who uses fermented soybeans as her weapon of choice, and a foreign exchange student who doesn’t seem to understand how clothes work, her new school life is sure to be interesting…
Those expecting the mythological hijinks for which Oh My Goddess is well known might be disappointed, as Paradise Residence focuses more on the slice of life aspect. But after spending over 20 years of his professional career on a fantasy manga, you cannot blame him for wanting to work on something a little more grounded. I would not let this discourage you if you are Oh My Goddess fans, as not only did that series frequently dabble in the slice of life genre, Paradise Residence in many ways shows off the sum of the experience and skill Fujishima has accumulated in his 20+ year run on his previous series. One of the main strengths of the series is the polished art with great looking characters that fit the tone of the story, and Fushima has a real knack for facial expressions that help enhance many scenes (particular favourites are when Hatsune is struggling to get through her lessons to her much desired curry lunch to the point where it is the only thing on her mind when she answers class questions, and when her upcoming pudding summit is put at threat by an English exam leading to a rather intense reaction when she struggles to comprehend the English language).
Returning to the slice of life aspect, this is not a series for those expecting an epic saga with a rich continuity. But those seeking some escapist fiction and some light-hearted antics will find plenty to enjoy, whether it be Hatsune trying to cope with dogs, adopting the standard shojo trope of meeting a boy by running to school with toast in your mouth only for it to backfire horribly, her and her fellow rundown dorm roommates’ rivalry with those of a much more modern one and even typhoons.
Any fans of Fujishima should give this a shot and those looking for a great slice of life manga will find more than enough to enjoy.
Paradise Residence Volume 1 is published 17 March by Kodansha
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