I haven’t read any shoujo manga in a really long time, partly because I’ve been waxing poetically about Josei manga. I read the preview of Shortcake Cake on the Viz website a spell ago and thought I’d give it a go. Authors and creators of past faves titles like Hibi Chouchou, Suu Morishita is a two person team of Makiro who handles the story, and Nachiyan who handles the illustration whose latest body of work was picked up by Shojo Beat for an English translation. I got super hyped and bought a physical copy and nearly waited at the mailbox for the mail carrier to come so I could take it with me to campus to read in between classes. After reading this volume, I was sure that this was the series to end my unintentional shoujo fast.
Starting high school means Ten Serizawa has a two-hour commute through the mountains to school every day, and she bears it well in stride. This means that she can’t be around to socialize with the girls her age or hang out with a friend or anything fun that teen girls get to do together, because she’s always having to be mindful about her commute home.
At first, this doesn’t bother her but a chance trip with some girls to gab and gossip at the local cafe and laughing over a slice of cake she realizes what she’s been missing out on and she linger on the big decision. A chance encounter visiting the boarding house that her best friend Ageha lives at sparks a big decision to cut her commute from two hours to seven minutes, yet it opens up the possibility of some drama bombs as the boarding house is a co-ed one!
Ten Serizawa is our aloof, soft spoken high school girl protagonist in the same vein of Mei Tachibana from Say I love You and at times in your face like Futaba Yoshioka from Blue Spring Ride. She’s completely oblivious to the opposite sex but observant about other matters and honest to a fault. She’s excited for this new chapter in her life: a chance to live with her hometown friend Agegha along with meeting new people, possibly making new friends.
Watching her interact with all the characters in the boarding house makes for good fun. Like when she meets Riku, the biggest flirt that side of the planet (and immediately knows he’s the worst) who treats the boarders to the visuals of girls coming to confess to him during dinner time outside the building. Seeing Ten be in awe of the philosophical pretty boy Chiaki who all the girls at school idolize, but he wouldn’t be able to tell because his nose is always in a book.
Following along with our doe eyed, long ponytailed girl as she is navigating growing up and new surroundings and new responsibilities being away from home makes for a good read. I really enjoyed her mingling with Yuto, the bespectacled boy who is a good tutor who is often at the mercy of jokes of the others, Aoi, a third year female student and the super cool “house mom,” Ran, who is quick to go over the rules–“THE MOST IMPORTANT RULE IN THIS HOUSE IS THAT BOYS AND GIRLS STAY OUT OF ONE ANOTHER’S ROOMS.”
Already familiar with the art style of Suu Morishita doesn’t distract from how lovely the illustrations come across on the page. Sure there are some devastating beautiful closeups of certain characters yet there a lot of toned down, fun scenes with groups where much is captured if you pay attention. I have to note that there are also some really unique ways to play up the panels that Suu Morishita does, and it is easily one of my favorite parts of the visual aesthetic that is instantly eye candy. Narrowing down my favorite on the art side are all the great reaction pics and screen shots you can take of Ten with her cat eye like eyes and facial expressions when she’s eating or when she feels someone is being disingenuous.
Reaction photo/manga screenshot reaction pic on point (from vol 1 of Shortcake Cake) pic.twitter.com/qnN5Stsguf
— Carrie “Clipps” McClain (@DivineBlkPearl) September 13, 2018
The second half of the first volume shines as Ten gets to know two of her newer housemates a bit more as they hang out as a small group visiting the local area on the weekend. There is an unexpected thrum of angst that tackled me and left me shook looking for answers that I expect to hopefully have answered over several volumes to come. There’s a lot of funny, smaller moments to look forward to that happen this volume that set the pacing for the book to not be frantic–giving me a slice of life type feel (even though this is a shoujo/romance/high school genre piece).
Shortcake Cake is a sweet shoujo manga surprise with a touch of angst that I wasn’t expecting! Looking forward to reading more of Ten and friends as they learn to live with each other, live with their doubts and shortcomings, and ultimately learn how they impact each other’s lives.
Volume One of Shortcake Cake is now available in digital and physical formats. Volume Two is available for pre-order. See more of the manga kai at work: their Instagram page is one of my newest follows.
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