For this weekend’s sole ‘Thoughts on Manga’ post, I’ll be taking a break from Soul Eater.
Instead, I’ll be turning my attention to a volume of manga I decided to pick up from my local Waterstones on a whim. The only info I could get for this particular manga before I picked it up was from the blurb and briefly flicking through it. What is made clear is that this is a manga that focuses on an all-girl boarding school.
Paradise Residence is brought to us by the creator of Oh My Goddess!, Kosuke Fujishima.
There’s 7 ‘episodes’ in this 1st volume of Paradise Residence, and over 100 pages of special extras, including ‘Volume 0’. Due to those extras, volume 1 of Paradise Residence is the thickest single volume of manga in my collection.
To begin with, Paradise Residence was first appeared in Kodansha’s Good Afternoon magazine between 2009-2011 as a series of short episodes – these are what make up volume 0. After that, the series was serialised as a regular manga in the monthly magazine Afternoon. It started on May 24th 2014, and ended on January 25th 2016. There’s a total of 3 volumes of Paradise Residence.
With all that said and done, let’s just dive straight in and see what Hatsune Takanashi’s life at boarding school is like.
Well, I’m sure those who regularly read my ‘Thoughts on Manga’ posts know how these go by now, so let’s start with the blurb:
Hatsune Takahashi is a girl of simple tastes. Curry and friends are among her favourite things, but more than anything, pudding is her true love in life. She’s begun her new high school life at Kikka Academy, an all-girl boarding school high atop a mountain, and is looking forward to making new friends and eating some great food. Hatsune is guaranteed to have new and exciting experiences, but with a grade-schooler house mother, a mean rival who uses fermented soybeans as her weapon, and a foreign exchange student who doesn’t seem to understand how clothes work, her new school life is sure to be interesting…
Episode 1 of Paradise Residence is called ‘Likes and Dislikes’, and we are quickly shown that Hatsune is not a morning person. Not even multiple alarm clocks are enough to get her out of bed…
We also meet Komatsu, who is able to lure Hatsune out of bed with some pudding. Another character introduced is the ‘little dorm mother’. Anyway, Komatsu performs a bait and switch with the pudding, thus resulting in Hatsune eating natto (fermented soybeans) instead.
Hatsune walks to school together with her roommate Suzuka. Realising that it is Friday, Hatsune is eager for lunchtime as the school will be serving special curry. She goes through her classes with nothing but curry on her mind.
In the cafeteria, we meet ‘Pudding’ – sorry, I mean Nyutabaru. Pudding is a nickname that Hatsune gave her, though it’s not meant affectionately.
‘Pudding Summit’ is the name of episode 2. Hatsune eagerly looks forward to the pudding summit, though that joy is cast aside with the arrival of the dorm master, Ominato-sensei. She tells Hatsune that she will have remedial lessons if she fails her English and physics midterms. Those remedial lessons would fall on the same day of the pudding summit.
One of girls (Tachiarai) from Hatsune’s dorm has a suggestion to help Hatsune with her English. This is where we meet the foreign exchange student – an English girl named Stephanie. Unfortunately, Stephanie isn’t really able to help Hatsune. We’ll be seeing more of Stephanie later, quite literally.
The little dorm mother is, however – turns out she’s actually quite good at English. With the little dorm mother’s help, Hatsune is able to improve her English. Unfortunately, she neglected her physics…
Episode 3 is ‘Takanashi vs. Neopan’. Neopan is a dog who has a habit of biting Hatsune – and only Hatsune. This whole episode is Hatsune trying different ways to get along with Neopan, though they all pretty much end the same way.
‘The Whims of Summer’ is the title of episode 4. Turns out the girls’ dorm gets very hot during the summertime. Tachiarai wears a t-shirt over a swimsuit to cope with the heat, whilst Stephanie strips off almost everything. She’s pretty relaxed about exposing herself in front of everyone, though she is scolded for it.
This episode ends with everyone coming together for some somen noodles.
Episode 5, ‘To Dormitory Two!’ has the girls preparing for a bath. At least until Stephanie runs out, completely naked and telling everyone the water is cold – the water heater had broken down.
Unable to take a bath, Hatsune says how that even teenage girls stink when they sweat. We get a small moment after that between Hatsune and Tachiarai, where the latter says that she doesn’t think Hatsune stinks. There’s a panel where the two of them are staring at each other, complete with lilies. I’m pretty sure that’s played for laughs, but as an avid wearer of yuri goggles I’ll take it.
Anyway, as you may guess from the chapter- I mean episode title, the girls go to dormitory two to use their baths.
This chapter is pretty much all about the fanservice.
‘Miraculous Near-Miss’ is the title of episode 6. Turns out the ‘little dorm mother’ is actually the daughter of the actual dorm mother, who Hatsune has never seen. Thus she makes it her goal to meet with the real dorm mother.
Hatsune’s attempts to meet with the dorm mother always result in her just missing her. Oh, and I think Hatsune’s tiny motorbike is worth mentioning.
Though Hatsune isn’t so lucky when it comes to seeing the dorm mother, we do get a glimpse at her in the end.
The last episode of volume 1 is the 7th, and it is called ‘Paradise Typhoon’. With an incoming storm, the girls of dormitory 1 go into disaster response mode in order to prepare for its arrival. Mitsuho is also introduced – a 2nd year and member of the swim team who seems to be a masochist.
Before they can prepare properly, the power goes out. Suzuka is able to provide some illumination until they find some candles. Turns out there’s no water either, so Hatsune volunteers to go to the pump shed to switch on the generator. She is accompanied by Mitsuho.
By the time Hatsune and Mitsuho return (with Neopan in tow), their little excursion is rendered pointless…
So that’s volume 1 of Paradise Residence, but I will talk about the extras before sharing my thoughts on it.
First of the extras is a recipe for submarine curry – not very useful for someone like me who doesn’t eat meat, but I suppose there’s probably people out there who would be willing to give this recipe a go.
We also have some rough sketches, followed by translation notes for volume 1. Following that are some colour illustrations of Hatsune and Suzuka, and then we get the shorter episodes of volume 0.
I won’t go into too much detail for these, but I will say that we get to see why Hatsune called Nyutabaru ‘Pudding’, as well as how their rivalry started. Tachiarai also appears here, and demonstrates some great athletic ability.
Included as part of volume 0 is a short story by Kanan Norihara called Where the Peach Buds Swell. I’m pretty sure it’s told from the point of view of Hatsune’s father as he and his wife prepare to send their daughter to the boarding school.
This volume ends with some more translation notes, and then we get adverts for other manga series.
So, as I’ve already said, I picked this one up on a whim. Was it worth it? In my humble opinion, I would say yes.
It’s a pretty standard schoolgirl series, but it definitely has some great moments of humour. The different personalities present make for a varied cast, and there’s certainly no skimping on the fanservice – which can either be seen as good or bad, it pretty much just comes down to what you think of it.
Also, I love seeing English characters in Japanese media – whilst she’s no Karen (from Kiniro Mosaic), I do like Stephanie based on her few appearances so far. I’d like to say the fact that she brings most of the fanservice has nothing to do with it, but I suspect that is actually part of her charm. I hope to see more from her in future volumes.
So, overall, definitely one to consider if you enjoy slice-of-life series about schoolgirls.