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Karakuri Odette Vol. 1

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Karakuri Odette Volume 1

Karakuri Odette Volume 1

© Julietta Suzuki / HAKUSENSHA, INC.

The Bottom Line

Odette is an android, but she's eager to understand what makes her different from humans. To learn more, she enrolls in high school -- but discovers that being a human is kind of… well, kind of complicated.

From its premise, Karakuri Odette could have been a simple slapstick comedy of errors about a robot who can't do anything right. But instead, Suzuki gives readers a surprisingly sensitive, funny and thought-provoking sci-fi shojo series that is as genuinely charming and memorable as its mechanical heroine.

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Pros

  • Surprisingly sensitive, heartwarming and thought-provoking shojo stories with a sci-fi twist
  • Clean, simple artwork that tells the story with a minimum of fuss and sparkles
  • Odette is a fascinating android character who already has more humanity than she thinks
  • Suzuki tells her story with a light touch, and avoids relying on cheap laughs or fanservice

Cons

  • Relies on fairly spare visual storytelling, so it's not going to dazzle you with its artistry
  • Touches upon subjects like death and bullying, so it's not for very young readers

Description

  • Original Title: Karakuri Odetto (Japan)
  • Author & Artist: Julietta Suzuki
  • Publishers:
  • ISBN: 978-1427814074
  • Cover Price: $10.99 US / $13.99 CANADA
  • Age Rating: T – Teens Age 13+ for mild violence
    More about content ratings.
  • Manga Genres:
  • US Publication Date: September 2009
    Japan Publication Date: June 2006
  • Book Description: 192 pages, black and white illustrations
  • More Manga by Julietta Suzuki:
    • Nice to Meet You Kamisama

Guide Review - Karakuri Odette Vol. 1

Odette is an android wants to find out what it means to be human, so she asks her creator, Professor Yoshizawa to enroll her in high school. Trouble is, Odette is a lot stronger than the average teen girl, and just a little more naïve about the ways of the world. As she learns more about what it's like to be an ordinary girl, can Odette keep her extraordinary abilities a secret from her classmates?

From its premise, Karakuri Odette could have easily been just another madcap, sci-fi comedy about a well-meaning but clumsy robot. But I was pleasantly surprised by the gently humorous tone and inventive twists in this shojo manga series. Suzuki could have opted to portray Odette as a mechanical bimbo, but instead created a genuinely likeable teen robot who is more human than she thinks.

There are hints of high school romance and humorous hi-jinks in these stories, but Karakuri Odette is not your everyday shojo series-- it's got more to say than just your usual "he loves me, he loves me not" drama. Each chapter of Karakuri Odette follows Odette as she discovers the complexities of human emotions like love, sadness, sacrifice, envy and friendship.

Odette is charming because she is so straightforward and honest with others, and with herself. This becomes evident as she meets Asia, another teen female android who visits Professor Yoshizawa. Odette finds herself envying Asia's upbeat personality, but eventually she discovers that there's something missing from this not-quite-perfectly perky android.

Odette's encounters with hostile bad boy Asao Kurose and cold-hearted terrorist robot Chris Number 7 are both particularly rewarding to see, as her guileless ways eventually wears down their defenses. In any other manga, Asao would merely be the unreachable object of Odette's affections -- but in Karakuri Odette, he is a complex, conflicted boy who evolves from an angry, cynical bully to a true friend who looks out for Odette.

The one downside to Karakuri Odette is that Suzuki's artwork is quite spare compared to her contemporary shojo manga peers. There's a minimum of background details, and the characters, while expressive, are drawn very simply, without the usual fussy school uniforms, floral flourishes or bishonen (pretty boy) eye-candy. I found this to be refreshing, because this lets Karakuri Odette's heartfelt sincerity, gentle humor and thought-provoking sci-fi twists shine through.

There are a few violent scenes that very young or sensitive readers might find disturbing, but overall, I found Karakuri Odette to be a joy to read, and a title that I read and re-read with pleasure. It exceeded all of my expectations by delivering surprises, laughs and more than a few heart-touching moments. It's a manga that does that deserves your $10.99, or at least your time to read and discover its many charms.

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