Of the standards and practices that go into manga, my favorite has to be the series that use a one-shot story as a jumping-off point for a series. There are various “tells” to indicate what was only meant to be self-enclosed, but the easiest to detect: When the protagonist and their friend are separated in chapter two.
The friend serves as a detriment to the character’s growth. So if a character has, say, OCD about being in contact with germs, then he somewhat gets over it when he lets the girl he likes vomit into his shirt, she has to go. Her being there only speeds along his recovery from OCD. She can eventually come back, but only after some growth.
That’s not the polt of The Secret Notes of Lady Kanoko, because it is the plot of Clean-Freak Fully Equipped and polt means “a hard knock,” not like plot which means “not polt.”
The plot of TSNLK is that Kanoko is a busy-body who spies on her classmates and writes down all of their secrets. Her newest interest is a love triangle between the No.1 girl and the No.1 and 2 guys in her school. In a completely original twist, the loner Kanoko makes friends with the most popular students! In an even more original and even twistier twist, the MVP of Girls in School is bullied by her gal classmates! Why? Can you handle the originality? They want the No.1 most cutest guy in school!
There’s the rub. I mean, not even a little, but at least Notes Lady Secret of Kanoko The displays off the bat that yes, the art shows no sign of growing due to a necessary level of cootie-poo-ness, and yes, serious subjects are treated poorly, but it has the decency to let you know: This is not an altogether original manga.
Which is definitely fine. Originality is overrated. This coming from the 29,807th manga blog created*. That’s a literal fact. The point is how you handle it. Will you remake Psycho shot-for-shot? Will you change South Park up by adding episodic continuity? Just look at talk-show hosts.
*Not a literal fact.
It bears resemblance to Clean-Freak, where a loner gradually befriends others with problems. Kodansha manga have a wide selection from this genre. The main issue with Kanoko is caring.
Kanoko has one consistent friend from story to story. Why? Back to my opening statement, you can tell that the first story was a one-shot because Kanoko is switched to a new school. And removed from her friends, although each story has No.1 MVP Guy assist her. Seems her announcing that she knows everyone’s secrets over the PA system got her in trouble, enough that she’s constantly switching schools within ONE SCHOOL YEAR! Seems to be a minor infraction, if you ask me.
Also, she cut up her journal but made a new one in chapter two. Yeah, not meant to be ongoing. But I’m glad it was. Lady Kanoko deals with some surprising topics. Okay, I’m an American, so reading the pedophile teacher plot always shocks me (with such cute art to boot!) Chapter four is all about narcissism and how talk means nothing in the face of talent. It’s a weirdly compelling topic.
Let’s talk about a chapter I skipped for structural sake, chapter three. It’s a “Little Mermaid Plot,” although I think it’s more like The Goose Girl. A girl who shifts blame and steals credit bumps into Kanoko and a classmate who hates the girl, as she stole her rightful place as Vice Chairman of the Student Body and the guy she gave notes to encourage him.
So Kanoko, her No.1 Hottie Tsubaki with a Tsubody pal, and the girl scheme. Pretty up the girl, reveal that the Vice Chairman is a credit-stealing jerk, win the Chairman’s heart, the end. And it works. You know, of course it was going to, because they explained it step by step. When have you ever seen an old-timey villain win? They always reveal their plain in one breath. So yes, the girl gets her man.
Being the President, each one seems worse than the last because they had less work in front of them than their predecessors. So it just seems like swiping credit. Think of the President in the year 4535. “You don’t deserve that title! You don’t work hard in the position, when Dartspawn Lawnbuck the Third once picked up a pen to almost write something!”
Kanoko’s right, though; earned success is more meaningful than coasting. When the credit crook is in the exact scenario the new VChairman is, the Vicey Chairio stands up for her, willing to risk it all for truth. But naw, the guy still likes her and all is well, except for Kanoko who has to show emotion. Man, I know how much she hates talking to people and picking sides. Sure seems she picks sides an awful load.
By the way, I cried after I read it. Shut it, you’re crying.
So why do I think it’s more like The Goose Girl than The Little Mermaid or, as the VCharmander suggests, Cinderella? Mermaid has the “disguised beauty” thing going for it, plus, ironically, she didn’t earn it. Cinderella has Kanoko as the Godmother. Meh. But Goose Girl has a credit-stealing maid disguised as a princess and vice-versa. Plus, talking decapitated horse heads. Okay, not quite. I want a Goose Girl Disney flick.
Chapter Five is stupid. She revisits her old school to help Tsubaki with the school flabitty schwire or whatever. It shakes up the dynamic, but feels fairly squandered as none of the previous cast have developed. Heck, Kanoko’s unveloped at this point.
So yeah, do I recommend it? No? Look, why say it outright? If your intrigue is built by my words, then do whatever. My issues lie with the manga lacking necessary push. The premise would be better if her interactions with Tsubaki would last longer. What, I meant it objectively! I don’t literally know, okay?