One Room of Happiness Chapters 1-5 Manga Review
One Room of Happiness:
Synopsis: That day, she was abducted. But to her, that abduction was a ray of hope — the beginning of a new life. The girl promises to marry her abductor, and the abductor offers plenty of “happiness.” This is the story of an abductor and his victim… How could it be so warm? (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
Review (Warning: Spoilers to Follow):
Let’s get the potentially problematic issue out of the way. Based off its synopsis, One Room of Happiness seems to be romanticizing abduction and kidnapping, a real life issue that is on the far opposite end of the romance spectrum. In fact, a live drama series adaptation based on the manga got taken off the air by one of the TV stations broadcasting it after concerns were raised about it bearing resemblance to a real life abduction incident, though the actual authenticity of those claims are yet to be verified. Now, obviously, if you are someone who has negative issues or experiences with the topic of abduction, you will likely/should avoid this series. But for anyone else, the verdict based solely off the first 5 chapters, One Room of Happiness seems like it aims to be more than just a rose tinted take on abduction. Yes, it definitely has problematic tones and content but there’s also a fair number of hints throughout these early chapters that this is in no way, shape or form a normal or ideal relationship. There’s also the fact that the girl in the story is only 14 years old, young enough to make this entire abduction feel even more disturbing. There’s no explicit sexual depiction or content save for a single scene hinting that she might have been sexually exploited by a teacher. If that is your main concern, One Room is mostly a chaste read.
My main issue with One Room of Happiness is that it is very predictable and ham-fisted with its reveals about the tragic backstory of our female protagonist, Sachi. Emotional and physical abuse at home, bullied by classmates, sexually abused by a teacher, you name it, Sachi experienced it. While these are all real life issues that are no laughing matter, One Room of Happiness delivers them in such an uninspired manner that it feels like its checking them off a very basic and overdone checklist titled ‘How to make your heroine’s character have a sad life and hopefully earn the reader’s pity’. If you are still new to these tropes or find them deeply engaging no matter the delivery, then congrats, you will find yourself extremely attached to our damsel in distress. Everyone else, get ready to do some eye rolling or sighs of frustration at the depiction.
That said, there are things I did enjoy greatly and are actually why the flaws frustrate me so much, because of how they interrupt a tale that could otherwise be really engaging and unique. The chemistry/relationship between our two protagonists is very unusual. At first glance, it’s peculiar to see how easily our female protagonist accepts her abductor/ex-stalker. Even with the plausible explanation that she is happy to be away from her abusive environment, she seems way too happy about this peculiar situation. The story does a great job of then showing her inner thoughts and making you realize that she is more than just your typical abuse wrought character. It makes her interesting and mysterious and you start to wonder just what kind of a person Sachi truly is. While she does occasionally dip back into damsel in distress territory, the further you read, the more she grows as an unpredictable and layered heroine.
Moving on to our abductor, who goes unnamed so far, the story also makes attempts to build him a mysterious and tragic history but thanks to all the ‘tragedy’ already laid upon our heroine, his past runs the risk of feeling repetitive and less shocking or intriguing. His inner ramblings act as an avenue to build up our heroine, further adding to the feeling that he’s almost like a supporting character. And it’s things like these that make me feel like the chance of someone taking to One Room of Happiness relies heavily on either empathizing/sympathizing with our heroine and/or getting intrigued by the tragic and twisted pasts both our protagonists are wrestling with. The manga is at its best when it is focusing on highlighting just how broken and mysterious our female protagonist is; constantly dropping hints and clues as to the unpredictable and strange nature of her mental health and erratic behaviour. Focus on anything else and the manga will start to feel trope ridden and contrived to more well read individuals. The story relies too heavily on overused plot elements, specifically abuse, and does little to present them in a refreshing or convincing manner.
So, is One Room of Happiness for you? If the premise of two equally broken people coming together to form a rather unique and definitely disturbing dynamic between them appeals to you, it’s definitely worth a try. The first five chapters make for a quick read, so if you have even the slightest interest, it’s worth a try. However, if you are hoping for ground breaking narratives and plot developments, you might find yourself sorely disappointed, The story has a few twists and a promising female lead that could grow into a shocking and unique character but it’s all buried under so many tropes that more demanding readers will not find it enough to keep them invested.
One Room of Happiness is available digitally via Crunchyroll.com.