Title: Happy Cafe Vol 1
Author: Kou Matsuzuki
May Contain Spoilers
Happy Cafe reminded me a lot of Pearl Pink, both in terms of artist style and storytelling. The illustrations are energetic and facial expressions offer up a surprising amount of detail. The story is fast-paced and Uru’s bubbly personality carries the cast.
Uru is desperately seeking happiness after a misunderstanding at home sends her out on her own. Her mother has remarried, and the 16 year old feels like a burden to her mom and new step-dad, so she convinces them to let her live on her own. Uru wants to work at Cafe Bonheur after overhearing some customers comment about how happy they were after eating there. After meeting Shindo, who is not the friendliest of people, she has to convince him to give her a job and a chance to prove herself. All she really wants is to make people happy, and Uru believes that being a waitress at the restaurant is her ticket to beaming smiles. If Shindo doesn’t nag her to death first.
Happy Cafe is a pleasant read, and it has a feel good vibe going for it. Uru isn’t cut out for waitressing, because despite her diminutive stature, she is surprisingly strong and clumsy. These are obviously not good traits for a waitress to have, and broken glasses and dishes soon pile up around her. Shindo is only happy when he’s making his pasties, and he isn’t very encouraging when Uru first starts working at the cafe. It’s hard to blame him, though, when you tabulate all of the broken place settings. Uru has such a positive outlook, though, that it will only be a matter of time before she wins Shindo over. In the meantime, there is a steady dose of comedy as Uru tries to adjust to her new job duties without destroying the cafe.
This is a character driven story, and the personalities are interesting enough to carry it forward. I was disappointed with the premise, and felt that Uru’s background circumstances were flimsy and unconvincing. Putting that aside, the book does a good job drawing out Shindo and Ichiro’s quirks. The interaction between the three main characters kept me turning the pages, and I am wondering where the relationship between Uru and Shindo will go. Shindo is not an encouraging or friendly kind of guy, so it will be interesting to see if Uru’s breezy personality can transform him into a nicer guy.
Review copy provided by Tokyopop