My Wife is Wagatsuma-san Volume 1 Review
My Wife is Wagatsuma-san :
Reviewed by: Linny
Synopsis: Hitoshi Aoshima is an extremely average and unpopular 2nd year high school student who longs to have a girlfriend even though his chances seem bleak. When he inexplicably obtains the ability to travel through time in his sleep, he finds himself 10 years into the future and married to the most popular girl in school, Wagatsuma-san! Despite this extremely desirable outcome, Hitoshi comes to find out that this isn’t a fate written in stone and struggles to make sure it comes true as he discovers that even the most random or small action he does now could have a profound effect and completely change his desired future.
Review (Warning: Spoilers to Follow):
When you first pick up My Wife is Wagatsuma, it’s hard to ignore how cliche its protagonist and his friends feels. For anyone more familiar with the negative tropes associated with otaku characters, Hitoshi and his two buddies reek of every single one as they ogle their female classmates’ breasts during PE class, and discuss their ‘plans’ to have girls from idol groups fall madly in love with them. If you are someone extremely tired of humour based on those tropes, you might find yourself grimacing at the start of this series. However, in its defense, the series does offer a lot more than that kind of humour as it progresses and has a strong chance of winning you over so long as you can overlook or don’t mind the otaku thrashing.
What ups the otaku factor of My Wife is Wagatsuma-san is its constant and numerous references to other well established and beloved manga and anime franchises to the point where some readers might struggle to understand some of the jokes. The manga DOES include explanations and footnotes for every Japanese culture references though so a quick Google search should help any lost reader get with the programme, so to speak. There’s also a bit of Western culture and icon references..and since I do not have access to the original Japanese copies nor can I read Japanese, I do not know if the references to the rapper Eminem and his movie 8 mile are native to the original Japanese version or were used to replace a reference to more obscure Japanese counterparts. Seeing as there are so many unchanged Japanese references, my gut feeling says this is true to the original text, but if any readers know the truth about it, please do leave a comment.
With all that out of the way, let’s get to the meat of the series..its plot and characters. My Wife is Wagatsuma-san is a rom-com through and through..and while at first glance, it might come off as cliche, it’s actually got quite a bit of its own flavour and twists that does a great job of grabbing the readers’ interest. Our hero, Hitoshi MAY have a lot of the weird loser stereotypes, but he is also a believable guy. The more we get a look at his inner workings and daily lives, the easier it is to understand why he is the way he is and to root for him in his bizarre quest. While he does seem to loathe his more otaku buddies, he genuinely wants what’s best for them and puts in effort to ensure he isn’t the only one who ends up with a happy future. He might not end up as anyone’s all time favourite protagonist, but he is sure to grow on you as you keep reading.
The series does suffer a little from relying too heavily on common cliches to depict its ‘loser’ characters, like Hitoshi’s buddies, or the ugly yet pompous female classmate who mistakenly and arrogantly assumes Hitoshi is staring at her in class and rats him out to the teacher. Then there’s the fact that Wagatsuma-san is yet another cliche dream heroine..not only is she super smart and super pretty, she’s also super humble, has some hidden quirks and gets along with everyone so as to ensure our hero can interact with her.However, these are minor complaints and most readers should find themselves dismissing these flaws and losing themselves in the comical styling of the story. First off, the expressions and reaction faces in the manga are top notch and will have you burst out guffawing if you’re a fan of over the top reactions. The expressions alone could be the punchline in some of the jokes and have been some of the best ones I’ve personally seen in recent comedies.
The other thing to love about the series is how it twists and curves to leave readers eager to find out what’s next. For a rom-com, it manages to use its material well and introduce unexpected developments that will have readers dying to find out more. It doesn’t deviate too much from the tried and true formula for those expecting completely unique material but it does enough to surprise and engage. Also, there are no easy and simple magic wand fixes for anything. Sure, this is the only the first volume so it would be ridiculous to expect anything to be resolved already, but My Wife is Wagatsuma-san gets points for how it presents and plays out some of the issues Hitoshi encounters and tries to solve with his new found ability. In fact, his attempts to fix things are downright comical and one of the best laugh inducing moments.
So lets get to the main issue I try to tackle with my CrunchyCrawl series, who is this manga going to entertain? If you are a sucker for comedies that involve over the top facial reactions and actions or rom-coms in general and don’t mind or enjoy heavy digs at otakus or the creepy otaku cliche, definitely do give this series a try. Even if you are annoyed or uncomfortable with that cliche, the series does offer some good quality comedy in other forms that you might want to atleast try this first volume.
However, if you are extremely uncomfortable or disapprove of the horny teen otaku/loser protagonist and perverted humour, this might not be the series for you. Do note that while there is a lot of mention of hentai games, oggling of boobs and perverted teenage talk, there’s no groping or outright sexual harassment (save for someone getting arrested for flashing). The fan service is minimal and chaste compared to how perverted Hitoshi and his buddies are. The most ‘questionable’ sequence for me was when a transfer student is being introduced to the class, and a male student outright asks her what her breast size is in front of the class and the teacher. It was an ‘only in manga/anime’ moment that stood out to me more than usual but given how over the top the story is in general, it was quickly glazed over and ultimately used as a chance for the transfer student to show off her sassy side.
Overall, My Wife is Wagatsuma-san may start off a little shaky for some of you..maybe even downright turn off others. However, it manages to grow beyond its cliches and tropes, and produces genuine comedy that may rely on tropes but succeeds in being entertaining nonetheless. As weird as our lead is made to seem early on, he eventually becomes very likeable and understandable and by the end of Volume 1, you will find yourself cheering him on and eager to find out what new mess he is going to get himself into and out of in Volume 2.