by Zac Bertschy,

Gacha Gacha

G.novel 1

Gacha Gacha GN 1
Kouhei's been buddies with Kurara for as long as he can remember, but lately, he can't seem to keep his mind off of her. In fact, ever since she returned from summer break, his feelings have developed into a full-blown crush! The vacation seems to have changed Kurara, though; half the time she's the sweet, innocent girl Kouhei's always known and the other half of the time, she's a total nymphomaniac! When it's discovered that Kurara's problem stems from the fact that she's got multiple personalities, Kouhei vows to keep her secret safe. That doesn't stop him from trying to win her heart, though…
Gacha Gacha is the latest in a long line of bawdy sex-comedy manga, and for the most part, there isn't anything about it that makes it really stand out from the rest. Here's the joke: milquetoast loser is in love with mean, short-tempered girl with a split personality who randomly turns into a slutty flirt and tries to sleep with milquetoast guy. Inevitably, right when she's mostly undressed and the milquetoast guy is panicking at the sight of breasts, she turns back into mean short-tempered girl and punches him in the face for his indiscretions. Hilarious, right? Well, if you've ever read something like this before, odds are you'll be straight-faced through most of this volume.

As with most manga like this, the big problem lies in the characterizations. There are no likable characters in this; Kouhei is the average wimpy loser who can't confess his real feelings for Kurara. Kurara is a mean-spirited, nasty jerk who takes every opportunity to belittle and humiliate Kouhei. Why is he in love with her if she treats him like garbage? Who knows? Even Kurara's slutty other half, the flip side of her dual personality, is little more than a fanboy fantasy; she's a busty, sex-crazed girl who's determined to get into Kouhei's pants. There are a handful of brave attempts to make the characters slightly more likable—Kurara has the inevitable “nice” moment and Kouhei eventually yells at her for being such an unconscionable jerk, but these moments are rendered impotent almost immediately by instantly turning into yet another clichéd gag about Kouhei getting punched in the face or Kurara's slutty side pulling her shirt off. It's hard to care about what's going on when you'd rather see the characters get hit by a bus.

The characters aren't the only problem with Gacha Gacha; the plot needs some work, too. Each chapter follows the same basic routine: Kouhei and Kurara make plans to do something together, like go swimming or go out for dinner or do homework or attend the summer festival. Kurara acts distant and mean while Kouhei rambles on in a series of internal monologues about his feelings for her. Then Kurara transforms into a flirty harlot, removes most of her clothes and basically demands that Kouhei sleep with her. Then at the worst possible moment, Kurara snaps back into her normal self and punches Kouhei in the jaw. Almost every chapter in this volume plays out this exact way. By the fifth time you've read the same gag, you're ready to toss the book out the window.

It isn't all bad, though. The artwork in Gacha Gacha is competent and at times very well-done. The characters are all very unique, and easy to tell apart. Panel progression and layout is very professional and fluid, and the background work is quite solid. The ‘next volume preview’ at the back of the book (kudos to Del Rey for always including a handful of much-appreciated extra material at the back of their books) hints that the story's going to get at least a little deeper, but it might be too little, too late. Unless they stop relying so much on one gag played out by shallow characters, it's tough to see this book getting much better. As it stands, it's difficult to recommend Gacha Gacha, unless you're unfamiliar with the trappings of the manga sex comedy, in which case this would be a decent primer. For everyone else with a little more experience, it's kind of a yawn.
Production Info:
Story : D
Art : B

+ Nice artwork, might be funny for newcomers to the genre.
Hackneyed to the extreme, repetitive, no likable characters.

Story & Art: Hiroyuki Tamakoshi

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Gacha Gacha (manga)

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Gacha Gacha (GN 1)

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