Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out!
Sakurai has known Hana Uzaki since high school, and he's always found her a bit of a trial – Uzaki's loud and bubbly while Sakurai really values his quiet time and privacy. Now they're both at the same university, and Uzaki's still doing her best to get in his face. Is he going to be stuck with her forever, or does he maybe enjoy her company more than he lets on?
At first glance, or at least the first few chapters, Take's Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! seems to trade in the sort of obnoxious comedy that stems from making its main character as uncomfortable as possible. Sakurai, a university junior, has been stuck with sophomore Uzaki since they were in high school, and he kind of wishes she'd just go away. He's quiet and solitary; she's loud and social, and rather than being presented as an opposites attract comedy at first, the story focuses on how much Uzaki annoys Sakurai. It comes off as an introvert being tormented by an extrovert who believes that his lifestyle is somehow wrong or invalid, which is much more obnoxious than amusing. While Uzaki does continue to tease him about his lack of social activities with comments about lone wolves, those lines shift from censorious to just something about him that she doesn't understand but accepts about him by about a quarter of the way through the book. Needless to say, this greatly improves the tone of the story and allows for things to be much more lighthearted.
Once this shift is achieved, the plot becomes about two oddball friends, casting Sakurai as a tsundere-adjacent rather than flat-out annoyed by Uzaki. While he'd still rather have time to himself or not have guests over to his apartment, he comes to recognize that Uzaki ultimately means well, and we begin to be able to see how the two of them have maintained a friendship (or at least a relationship) for so many years. Uzaki is much more willing to think of Sakurai as a friend than he is of her, but there are hints as the book goes on that they may also have mild crushes on each other as well. “Mild,” however, is the key word here – even if the feelings are deeper, neither of them are at a point where they want to admit to warmer feelings even if they have them. Mostly what we see is that they do actually care – when Sakurai is sick, Uzaki is quick to come help out; when she's in a pinch, he likewise comes to lend a hand.
Given the way that Uzaki is drawn – with breasts so large that they're bigger than her head – the story takes surprisingly few ecchi turns. That's a nice surprise, because that means that Uzaki as a character is more than the sum of her boobs; they're a part of her body, but not a piece of who she is as a person. There are a couple of scenes where her design comes into play, but for the most part it's really just an aesthetic choice on the part of the artist. In fact, the most suggestive scene involves Uzaki having her front half stuck in a hedge and yelling all the wrong things (loudly and in public, of course) as Sakurai tries to pull her backwards by the hips. It's a gag we've seen before, but it works well enough here to not feel stale, especially since Sakurai never actually stops trying to pull her out, even as passersby begin looking askance at what's going on.
One of the most noticeable aspects of the book is the way that it feels very much like a four-panel manga without actually being told in four-panel format. This may have to do with the series' origins as a web manga, but whatever the reason, it does take a little bit of getting used to. Each chapter is divided up into parts, but there's no obvious rhyme or reason behind where sections end, and complete chapters tell an entire story. The longer sections do build on each other, so there is an overall feeling of cohesiveness, but the mildly disjointed sensation this causes while reading is a bit of an issue. As with the humor, this does even out as the book goes on, so once again it may simply be a sign of a new creator getting things sorted out with their style of storytelling. Take does have a decent grasp of their own strengths and weaknesses, which is nice, and we can see them grow more comfortable with both style and material as things go on, which is interesting from an evolutionary perspective. The one thing no bones are made about is the fluctuating size of Uzaki's chest, which seems to get out of the artist's control at times – fortunately, Take makes note of it and laughs about it, so we can see it more as a joke in and of itself than anything else.
Uzaki-chan Wants to Hang Out! is a slice-of-life gag comedy that gets better the more you read. If you can make it past the initial chapters where the jokes are more annoying than funny, this is a nice light book that doesn't require too much brain power to enjoy and seems to revel in being just a little bit of fluff to lighten your day.
Overall : B-
Story : B-
Art : C+
+ Light and silly, improves as it goes on
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