PGacha Gacha – Volume Two
Story and art by Hiroyuki Tamakoshi
(Past Reviews: Manga Volume One)
Publisher: Del Rey
Retail Price: $10.95
Release Date: January 2006
Pages: 198 b/w
Age Rating: 16+
Kouhei was just developing feelings for his childhood friend Kurara when she went on vacation to Hawaii. On her return, she brought home a sexy new split personality, “Arisa.” Kouhei swore to stay by Kurara’s side and protect her shocking secret – but just when he’s growing accustomed to Arisa’s antics, suddenly Kurara transforms into “Alice,” another personality!
Alice may look like Kurara on the outside, but on the inside she’s a fourteen-year-old girl who’s convinced that Kouhei is her tutor. Sounds simple enough, but there’s a catch: It seems the only subject Alice is interested in is male anatomy. How in the world will Kouhei cope with this development?
About the author
Preview of Volume #3
REVIEW – Rating: 6/10
The adventures of our unwittingly polite but unfortunately lovestruck protagonist Kouhei continues in the second volume of Gacha Gacha. His life as a teenager is, as per tradition, rife with an incalculable desire to express his feelings for a classmate, here Kurara. Given that Kurara is one of the cutest girls in the class, one would think that being a childhood friend with the girl is enough to put our Kouhei on even ground with the damsel; unfortunately though, things become increasingly complicated when Kurara returned from vacation with a quirky multiple personality disorder.
Now, as Kouhei is about used to coping with Kurara’s freakish switches to a separate persona (such as “Arisa,” an oversexed bare-all young woman), and just when Kouhei is about used to helping Kurara cover-up her “switches” in public, and just when Kouhei is ready to confess those three precious words to this girl he cares so much for–things take a slight turn for the worse.
This is where the second manga volume of Gacha Gacha comes in; Kouhei is complacent, but things are creeping up that disturb his comfort. And it just so happens that these disruptions to his relationship with Kurara all have to deal with sex or sexual attraction… coincidence? Not likely. In the first manga volume, we got a lot of information and personality regarding Kouhei, and so naturally, I was hoping to find some other characters fleshed out in the story. Whether those characters be fellow classmates, Karin (Kurara’s mother), or Kaori Seto (the hot, new school nurse); I was looking for some secondary or tertiary character development, and although I got a good number of what I wanted, I still do not believe I got what I needed from this particular volume.
Of particular changes or evolution of the plot in this volume includes the revelation of the reason behind Kurara’s personality change… and why her trip to Hawaii was the trigger. Kouhei’s trouble with Kurara, from expressing his love for her to his needing to cover-up her persona changes in public, ultimately multiply when Kurara changes into two other, different personalities: Alice and Rin. Alice is, apparently, a curly-haired fourth grader who sees Kouhei as her “tutor,” and Rin is your prototypical martial arts game character. Alice is an adorable little thing who is all too anxious to learn about sex hands-on, while Alice is the opposite, living only to pick fights with people and thinks nothing of physical attraction.
As readers later find out, there could be any number of personalities inside Kurara’s head due to a technical malfunction of a virtual reality simulator that her mother, the lead developer of a gaming company, produced. While it may be fun and humorous to see an innocent teenager with a fourth-grader inside, ogling Kouhei’s private parts; all in all, we find this comic quickly filling up with personalities and characters that haven’t any background or [honest] motivation. Alice could be an interesting character in this manga, because she’s violent and ultimately very different from any other character, but when she appears it’s literally out of nowhere, and kind of spoils an otherwise genially paced story. Not to mention the fact that these personalities, a fourth grade girl and an 8th degree black belt, feel random and out of left field.
Perhaps my lack of comfort with these two new characters comes from the fact that they are revealed to the audience so closely together, I never really got the opportunity to learn anything about them. I mean to say; the entire first manga volume was dedicated to deciphering “Arisa” from the real Kurara, which was written rather well. Here in the second volume, we have, in the midst of secondary characterization (background characters being colored in) we have two additional personalities on top of and mixed in with our lead female. There just isn’t enough time given to these new personalities to take them even moderately serious. I acknowledge that seeing a teenager regress into a little girl curious for size “H” breasts, and acknowledge that Rin, the wandering warrior’s weakness is a grope of the breast, are both hilarious… but without these little quirks that take up less than five pages, these characters are quite empty. Add to the fact that the frequency of which Kurara switches to these personalities is ridiculous and almost absurd. The depth of these characters when compared to Arisa is nothing, really. (Now that I think about it, Arisa doesn’t even make an appearance in this manga volume.)
All of that said, there are some great plusses to the second volume of Gacha Gacha. One of which is the recurring theme of searching for that special someone whom you always want by your side, and the theme of stepping up and claiming the one you love before someone else steals them away. Although Kouhei hasn’t been able to tell Kurara that he loves her, his actions for the moment are speaking louder than words. For example: when Noda, a handsome and athletic classmate of Kurara and Kouhei’s snags the role of Prince in the school festival’s presentation of Snow White, our pal Kouhei has to make some daring and perhaps all too honest decisions about who has the privilege of Kurara’s lips. Noda by the way looks to have a future in this manga; a prime example of a nice background character who has edged his way to the front.
“No matter what happens, I’ll be there to protect Kurara,” Kouhei claims heroically. And so far, he’s held up his word. As to how much the girl is actually aware of this is under suspicion for the greater part of volume two, but towards the end, there is a flicker of hope. We don’t hear much from Kurara, about how she feels about Kouhei or about how she feels about her persona-problem… which is one of my peeves with this title, but it seems to be a slowly evolving story that we gain her impression through other characters. Unfortunately, such an approach to character development is rarely successful in a way that is entirely satisfying.
The second manga volume of Gacha Gacha continues the multiple-personality humor, pretty much only in ways that give in to perversion and fanservice, but for the most part there is a visible outline of some actual character development and character conflicts. The artwork, naturally, is a splendidly consistent (slightly differing the appearance and cadence of additional personalities for Kurara) and the development of the dorky Umeda, the handsome Noda and other characters is a welcomed addition. Gacha Gacha is a humorous, fanservice laden comic, but ultimately lacks in some of its more important parts: pacing and/or perspective.