Saturday, March 27, 2021

REVIEW: The Girl with the Sanpaku Eyes (manga, vol. 1) by Shunsuke Sorato, translated by David Goldberg

The Girl with the Sanpaku Eyes is a romantic comedy series. It's licensed by Denpa. I got my copy via interlibrary loan.


The translator never really says what "sanpaku eyes" are, although the author afterword indicates that they're eyes that don't sparkle. Googling tells me that they're eyes where you can see white space either above or below the iris. I've seen one anime that I know of that used the term - Log Horizon, in which the main character was said to have sanpaku eyes - and viewers were told that this meant he looked evil. In The Girl with the Sanpaku Eyes, it seems to indicate that the main character is intimidating and has an unfortunate case of "resting bitch face."

Anyway, Amane Mizuno may look intimidating and prickly on the outside, but inside she's sweet, pure, and more than a little awkward. She has an enormous crush on Mitsuhide Katou, the guy who sits next to her in class, but she has such a hard time talking to him that just saying "good morning" back when he greets her is a huge accomplishment.

In this volume, readers meet Amane, Katou, Amane's friends (Miyo Takiya and Yui Kawamura), and Amane's older brother. Amane interacts with Katou a bit and attempts to work up the courage to cheer him on during the school sports meet.

This was nice, I guess. Amane tries hard to talk to Katou and not do anything embarrassing around him. Katou clearly likes Amane back but has trouble reading her and is therefore a little intimidated by her. If they can manage to have a few conversations that last more than a minute or two, it shouldn't take long for romance to develop. Literally the only thing standing between them is their own anxiety about how the other person sees them.

Amane's best friends thinks she's the cutest and are super supportive of her crush on Katou. Miyo, in particular, is more than happy to set up situations in which Amane can interact with Katou one-on-one. Although there are no outside obstacles to Amane and Katou's romance, Amane's brother might prove to be a problem in future volumes - he loves Amane a lot, and I can absolutely imagine him being the overprotective big brother type (and since his appearance is even more intimidating than Amane's, all I can do is wish Katou good luck).

Sorato's art style took a bit to get used to, but I liked it overall, and this series is unusual (at least for English-translated manga) for being entirely in color. Which means readers can see just how embarrassed Amane gets as she constantly turns pink while trying to interact with Katou. It was a little painful, actually. Readers prone to secondhand embarrassment, like myself, may find themselves needing to pause occasionally - nothing enormously embarrassing happens to her (she misspeaks a bit and her stomach growls in Katou's presence), but her feelings are very intensely depicted.

Overall this was cute but not terribly memorable. Too much revolved around Amane's awkward attempts to interact with Katou - the volume's short length probably didn't help. I'll probably continue on with this series, but stick to library checkouts rather than purchasing it.


A bonus comic and artwork inside the cover, a 2-page afterword comic by the author, a side story in which the volume's first scene is shown from Katou's POV, and another side story in which Miyo and Yui encounter Amane and her brother at the mall. The second side story bugged me a bit. I realize this is a comedy and Miyo and Yui are meant to be seen as Amane's super supportive friends, but they (particularly Miyo) seemed more like Amane's fan club than her friends. Miyo developed an instant crush on Amane's older brother, but only, apparently, because he struck her as being a male version of Amane (Yui's comment: "Miyo...aren't you only into girls? I mean, when you look at Amane, you're like a predator hunting its prey!").

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