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Karakuri Odette Vol. #03 Manga Review

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What does it mean to be truly human?

Can a girl made of metal ever truly know what it means to “like like” another?

Creative Staff
Writer/Artist: Julietta Suzuki
Translation: Aimi Tokutake
Adaptation: Peter Ahlstrom

What They Say
Odette is now a sophomore at her high school. She still wants to be as close to human as she can, but finds out she still has a long way to go. From wanting to be “cute” by wearing nail polish to making a “tasty” bento that people would be happy to eat and trying to figure out the different kinds of “like,” Odette faces each challenge head-on with the help of her friends Yoko, Chris, Professor and, of course, Asao.

The Review:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Karakuri Odette’s third volume feels much like the previous two: It features sweet, fluffy slice of life stories about a robot girl who’s cute, naive, and unintentionally funny. However, the plot still feels aimless, and the characters and settings have yet to take on a life of their own.

While the volume does begin with a standalone story about Odette trying to find a missing cat, the rest of the volume focus on Odette’s growing understanding about human relationships. Underclassman Yukimura is still smitten with Odette, and tries to get close to her with clumsy maneuvers that ultimately backfire. Just as it appears Yumikura and Chris are being set up as rivals for Odette’s love, Chris’s battery malfunctions and he is out of the story for the rest of the volume. We’re introduced to Yukimura’s friend Mika, who is in love with Asao and jealous of Odette. Tough guy Asao terrifies Yukimura and is in love with Odette’s friend Yoko. Odette remains fairly clueless about the web of relationships that surround her, and the volume’s best moments come as she slowly comprehends the meaning of it all. “Did you know, Asao,” she asks with a priceless look on her face, “you can only have one person you like! If someone else says they like you, you have to say sorry!”

The fact that Karakuri Odette is sweet and often quite funny makes its shortcomings all the more frustrating. Characters pop in when they’re needed, and when they’re not, they disappear. Chris’ ailment that keeps him unconscious for most of the volume is never explained. The collectors and their leader, a friend of the professor, are not even mentioned. Odette’s own battery seems to have problems at the whims of the plot. Its malfunctions cause her to run out at awkward or inopportune moments, which compounds misunderstandings and complicates her relationships. Contrivances like these prevent the characters from acting according to their own personalities, so scenes don’t ever seem to come alive. As of the third volume, Karakuri Odette features some good stories, but not yet a world of its own.

In Summary:
Karakuri Odette is a very frustrating title for me because it contains so many elements that I enjoy, but I am still unable to fully recommend it. There’s a lack of narrative focus that keeps us from knowing what Odette truly wants out of her life. At the same time, arbitrary plot developments, like batteries dying and then suddenly working again, or characters disappearing for chapters at a time, prevent the world from developing its own internal logic and narrative engine. With a growing focus on Odette’s love life, Karakuri Odette seems on the cusp of providing the character development the title needs. I like you and your world, Suzuki-san: I just need you to invite me in.

Content Grade: C+
Art Grade: C+
Packaging Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: B

Age Rating: 13+
Released By: TOKYOPOP
Release Date: April 27th, 2010
MSRP: $10.99