Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Karakuri Odette, Volume 2 by Julietta Suzuki

Odette may look like an ordinary girl, but she isn't. In reality, "she" is an android, constructed by the brilliant Professor Hiroaki to look like an ordinary girl. Odette wanted to know the difference between her and real girls, so she convinced the professor to let her attend human high school to learn the difference, hoping it will somehow teach her how to be just like a human.

Now, she is in her sophmore year, and the professor gives her a hair clip that is actually a transmitter, to keep an eye on her. He tells her to come home right away after school, as he has a surprise for her. Once at school, Odette is surprised to see her friend, Yoko, has sparkly nails all of a sudden. Yoko tells her that it is due to nail polish. Odette wants some, too.

At school she meets a boy named Asao Yukimura, who is only interested in Odette because she is "hot" enough to be worth his time. She is moving boxes, and he does the gallant thing to help her so that she will be interested in him. But the box is too heavy for him to hold, and he wonders how she is able to carry two of them so easily.

Yoko is interested in one of the boys at school and she finally gets up the courage to go and ask him out to see the gardens. He agrees, but by the time they can leave class, it is too windy, and Yoko calls herself a fool for not realizing what would happen with the wind. All she can hold on to is the handkerchief of the boy she likes, which she loses in the wind. Odette, realizing how much it means to Yoko, attempts to catch it and falls into the pond. She is able to get it for Yoko, but the water isn't good for her circuits, and she is rescued by Chris, an android sent to eliminate her and the professor. Chris has been re-programmed and was the surprise the Professor was speaking of earlier. Because the water shorts out most of her body, Chris must carry Odette home.

Chris has been revived, but doesn't have much clothing, so the Professor takes him and Odette shopping at the mall. Chris goes on ahead to shop and Odette joins him. Meanwhile the Professor is joined by an old friend Gabriel, who, unknown to the Professor, is Chris's creator, and who has come to steal him back, not knowing who has him now. The two talk over old times over ice cream while Odette and Chris, realizing that they are being followed and that the men following them have come for Chris, sets a trap with Chris's help in the girl's bathroom. When they burst in on her, expecting to find Chris, she screams and calls for the security guards to come arrest the "perverts".

Even though she is later introduced to "Gabriel" and is carrying Chris, Gabriel never sees Chris's face and thus never realizes who has his android now. But even as the Professor makes a plan to get rid of the tracking device concealed inside Chris's body (along with a bunch of robot parts), Chris and Odette take shelter in Asao's house, where Chris learns a lesson about likes and dislikes.

Chris has never cried, but when he decides he likes Odette and tries to be strong for her, he doesn't charge himself and ends up running down at school, assuring her he will be all right. But will Odette accept his reasons for letting himself run out of charge, or will she press for the truer, deeper reasons behind his decision?

Odette learns her own lesson when she wants to learn how to cook something tasty and calls on Asao's help to taste-test the results. Even when she fails the first time, she won't rest until she is able to learn how to cook something tasty.

Finally, when a male gang member falls in love with Odette, he runs into more trouble than he bargained for when his gang leader decides to teach Asao Yukimura a lesson by kidnapping the girl he loves, Odette! Can the gang member bow out of the whole deal without infuriating the female leader of the gang and without alienating Odette at the same time?

I had mixed reactions to this manga. Yeah, it's okay, but only okay. I wasn't all that interested in the premise despite the science fiction bent of the story. Neither Odette nor Chris really interested me as protagonists, and Asao is just repellent for all sorts of reasons. It's a good thing that Odette's head can't be turned by hum no matter how hard he tries, because I found him so self-centered and arrogant that I wanted to punch or kick him, hard.

Chris and Odette are both interesting, somewhat. Odette definitely has more human-like emotions, but Chris's body and mechanics are more advanced. She also seems to have the better programming, as she already has likes and dislikes and is much more like a human girl, for instance, wanting a particular battery for her backup because she had placed a cute sticker on it.

Despite the somewhat humanity of both characters, I was a little repelled by both of them, and Asao, even though he is human, is extremely repellent as a character. None of the other characters, including the professor, turn up often enough to carry the story over Odette, Chris or Asao. I would neither recommend this title, nor be interested in seeing more.

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