Mitsurou Kubo has become quite the name in anime/manga fandom in recent times. The 2016 anime Yuri on Ice she co-created with director Sayo Yamamoto became one of the biggest anime hits of the year and now boasts a rabid fan-base. As a result, Kubo’s past manga work is seeing English language releases – starting with the 2011 series Again!!
Kinichiro isn’t even that bad. It’s just that on the first day of high school, his narrow eyes made him look shifty, so people assumed he was trouble. Now it’s graduation, and he’s looking back on three years with no friends. He never even joined a club. But after a bloody collision and an accidental fall, he wakes up a high school freshman, with the chance to try it all over… AGAIN!!
People coming in expecting something similar to Yuri on Ice might be a bit surprised as this is definitely going for a more comedic approach. But Kubo proves in this opening volume that she is more than adept in the comedy manga genre. Kinichiro is familiar type seen often in manga and anime (the tall shady looking type that is often mistaken for a delinquent), so it’s refreshing to see how carrying such a persona could negatively affect one’s school life. The common occurrence in this type of story is for the delinquent character to find friendship and acceptance during high school, but Kinichiro managed to make it through without doing any of that. This second chance he is given therefore takes the time travel trope to a whole new dimension as rather than fixing one thing, he is essentially rebuilding his teenage years from scratch. It also throws in an entertaining wildcard as the accident that sends him to the past also results in one his schoolmates being unwittingly dragged along into the past with him, and she is less than pleased.
Fans of Kubo will already be aware of her strengths in the character design department and now they can get a chance to see her cut loose in an entire manga series. Kinichiro is a particularly great delinquent archetype (even in his unkempt long haired pre-time travel state) whist Yoshiko and Akira are perfect additions to the supporting cast (Yoshiko’s design is particularly good). Kubo also has a knack of making the shift between serious and over the top comedic moments come across far more organically than your typical comedy manga which is a welcome change.
With a dedicated fan base now established, fans of Kubo and Yuri on Ice should flock to this title and it’s clear to see she is set to make just as a big an impact with the English speaking manga audience as she did with the anime world.
Again!! 1 is published by Kodansha on 1st March 2018 (£10.99, Paperback, 9781632366450)