Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru – Manga Review

Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru:

Volume 1

Reviewed by: Linny

I thought she was a boy when I first saw this image.

Synopsis: Hotori Arashiyama is a clumsy, happy-go-lucky high school girl who dreams of becoming a detective some day. For now, she’s doing a terrible job of being the only maid at a so called maid cafe at the local Maruko shopping district. When her friend Tatsuno sees how badly run the cafe is, and that her crush Sanada is one of the few regular customers, she eagerly decides to work there to improve the cafe and secretly, to spend time with Sanada. Thus begins the crazy, comedic tale of the daily lives of Hotori Arashiyama, her friends, her family and even her ‘foes’.

Review (Warning: Spoilers to Follow):

Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru (English Title: Yet The Town Keeps Going), often abbreviated to SoreMachi, is something one could describe mainly as a comedic slice of life. While it does follow the antics of Hotori and all the drama and comedy she causes through her antics, the story also occasionally focuses on and follows the lives of other characters, making itself feel well rounded with a well developed cast. Each of these tales have strong veins of humour running throughout it, never ever going into anything depressing or serious, atleast not in the first volume. It immediately reads like a feel good tale, something to pick up when you want to have a chuckle or two and can be picked up or dropped at any minute. Each chapter is more or less independent of the others, with any issues in the chapter resolved and dealt with by the end of that very chapter itself.

Ahh ! Back when even holding hands was a big thing.

Now here comes my first minor caveat for the series. SoreMachi’s protagonist, Hotori is someone that you might have seen before if you’re an avid consumer of comedic anime or manga. She’s extremely goofy and energetic, often coming off as a bit of a dummy as she spends all her energy and brains on having fun in the moment than focusing on achieving whatever goal is on hand. While this type of protagonist can be a bundle of fun and a great source of comedy, some readers might get frustrated with how she has seems to be somewhat irresponsible. Of course, most fans of comedic anime/manga know that such characters are a staple of the genre so you should be fine with it. However, if you’ve never been a fan or have tired of the trope, you have been warned.

Another thing that one might note is how Volume 1 starts off being more about verbally describing its characters’ personalities rather than showing it through their actions. Despite the series’ official summary mentioning that Hotori is a big fan of detectives and likes dabbling in detective works herself, it takes a bit of time before Volume 1 makes it that apparent. It isn’t until a few chapters in that we get any mention of detective work, and how it actually plays out is Hotori’s math teacher, Mr Moriaki asking her to solve a mystery he’s facing because according to him, she notices the oddest things. This reveal comes a little out of nowhere with no proper build up and it’s something that happens often in the early chapter, particularly in regards to Hotori. While Hotori seems like a somewhat lazy maid in the first chapter of the volume, it isn’t until her friend Tetsuno joins in and starts meddling that Hotori’s supposed clumsiness comes out. In fact, in the second chapter, Mr Moriaki even points out that sometimes Hotori fakes clumsiness to get out of sticky situations. These are by no means story ruining critcisms but they might irk a pickier reader.

Brain capacity overloaded..exploding in 5,4,3,2..

Continuing on about the lack of detective themes, Volume 1 doesn’t actually have that much of a detective-centric element, despite it being considered important enough to be mentioned in the series summary. We do get a single chapter where Hotori figures out a mystery that Mr Moriaki is facing but other than that, actual detective and mystery solving actions and mentions occur in negligible amounts. Even in that aforementioned chapter, it feels more like puzzle solving rather than actual detective work.

Now let’s move on to what’s there to love about the series. First off, SoreMachi does a great job of exploring a LOT of its characters, giving us a look into their inner thoughts and their own lives outside of their interactions with Hotori. They feel like independent characters that exist alongside Hotori, and not merely to facilitate Hotori’s story lines. Even Hotori’s younger siblings are portrayed very realistically, like actual innocent yet mischievous kids who get into their own little misadventures with a dash of sibling conflicts. Due attention is even lathered on Mr Moriaki who comes off as a bit of a strict and overbearing teacher, but then we get a look into his past and learn to understand him better as a person and the true nature of his behaviour towards Hotori, rather than some mean teacher just out to get her. And while Tatsuno, Hotori’s good friend, seems to be mostly defined by her crush on Sanada for now, she is still an enjoyable character and readers might find themselves rooting for her as she tries her best to ask him out on a date. Even Sanada himself gets a bit of character exploration scenes and an entire chapter dedicated to him cementing him as a crucial element of the story.

At that point, one could still enjoy it as a bread bun though.

There are a lot more main and supporting characters such as Uki Isohata, the old lady who owns the cafe, the regular cafe customers, other store owners in the shopping district that the cafe buys its supplies from, and even a certain policeman who seems to have made it his life mission to ensure that Hotori doesn’t cause too much of a ruckus or commotion in the neighbourhood he patrols. All these characters come with their own distinctive personality, with some appearing more often and playing a bigger role than the others in the story. Despite the burgeoning cast, the story never feels cramped or confusing thanks to simple plots that focus mainly on making you laugh rather trying to pull of some grand and complex narrative. A lot of the characters have personalities that are either entertaining or easy to get attached to, making this huge cast feel even more of a delight.

For the most part, Soremachi’s first volume helps set up its various cast members, with the most focus going to its main protagonist of course. It’s definitely amusing to watch Hitori tackle all sorts of problems with her carefree enthusiasm and sometimes, sheer stubbornness, such as being the only student to get a 0 on both her math exam and retake for the math exam and instead of studying harder, deciding it would be easier to get the teacher to realize there’s more to life than math and facts. We get a glimpse into her school life, work life and even family life with almost every one of them filled with events for the readers to laugh at. As mentioned before, SoreMachi does a great job though of ensuring that Hitori herself isn’t the only source of laughter. All the side characters are utilized well enough that they bring their own gags that work without needing Hitori to provide the punch lines.

And I thought I had bad artistic skills.

As a comedy, SoreMachi works very well, utilizing every chapter and every character to provide laughs in a slice of life setting. Most of the humour in the series is down to earth in that things never get outright outrageous and most gags happen in a real life and somewhat believable setting so this series seems perfect for anyone craving humour that doesn’t get too crazy or random.

However, Volume 1 might prove to be disappointing to anyone expecting it to be chock full of mysteries and detective hijinks. Also, because of how ‘calm’ the story is overall, the ending of Volume 1 feels a little low energy. The ‘punchline’/ ‘shocking’ reveal at the end of the last chapter is done in such a nonchalant manner that it feels a little lacking. There’s no huge impact that might compel the reader to immediately grab the next volume. This could prove to be a double edged sword. On one hand, it makes SoreMachi a perfect choice for people who like series they can dive into and take a break from without the pressure of being left hanging. You can pick it up whenever and wherever for a quick read and are almost always guaranteed to find yourself cracking a smile. On the other hand, without any huge, tense and looming overarching plot driving you to devour every page, you might end up putting the series down and forgetting about it. Of course, being a slice of life, it’s not surprising that Soredemo is so laidback and ultimately fans of the genre should have no issues or problems following the series without a central mystery or plot driving them on.

RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!

SoreMachi is a completed series and the entire series is available through Crunchyroll’s manga library so that should be great news to anyone seeking such a series to avoid the dreaded weekly or monthly wait for ongoing stories. As a comedic slice of life, SoreMachi does not disappoint and with such a well developed and blossoming cast, most readers should find themselves growing fond of the story within the first volume itself. If you’ve always been a fan of the slice of life genre and like silly and goofy comedy that doesn’t go into absurd territory, you would do well to add this series to your reading list.

 

 Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru is available digitally via Crunchyroll.com.

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