Gacha Gacha Vol. 1
It's always a touching event when young love begins to bloom. Kouhei is a longtime friend of his classmate, Kurara, but only recently has he started envisioning her as something more than a friend. Making such a transition isn't easy -- especially when she still bullies him around a bit. Not to say that he doesn't deserve such harsh treatment from time to time, and there's a good chance that the reason that Kurara gives him such a hard time is because she's starting to dig him, as well.
Not that he could detect that easily.
It isn't until Kurara spends her latest summer vacation in Hawaii (lucky girl!) that Kouhei finally realizes exactly how much (and in what way) he cares for the girl. When she returns, however, something is different about her -- and it's more than just her tan.
For some heretofore unknown reason, Kurara has developed a second personality named Arisa. While Kurara is a relatively shy girl, Arisa is very outgoing, and more to the point -- always horny. It's not too hard to detect the personality switch when it occurs, because Arisa tends to pull off her bra ("It's too tight!") as soon as she's in control.
Before Kouhei realizes Kurara's predicament, he actually works up the courage to tell her that he likes her. Unfortunately, he makes his confession to Arisa, and Kurara retains no memories of her behavior when Arisa is in the driverís seat. On the upside, Arisa has no problem in returning Kouhei's affection, but he finds himself in a moral bind.
Accepting any offer solicited by Arisa would not be fair to Kurara, and once she finds out that Kouhei is onto her secret, she makes him promise to keep Arisa on a short leash whenever she surfaces. In order to win Kurara's heart, Kouhei accepts, but it's hard to stay true to the person that you have a crush on when it would be so easy to cheat on her -- with herself!
Eventually, the reason for Kurara's new personality is divulged, and I have to admit, I didn't see it coming. If you want to spoil the surprise, read the preview of the second volume included at the end of the first book.
This is one of those stories that require a pretty hefty suspension of disbelief, and it's nothing that we haven't seen before in other books. However, with the artwork of Hiroyuki Tamakoshi of Boys Be fame, it's awfully sexy. Gatcha Gatcha may not teach any readers a life lesson, but it's fun, cute and charming if you're into fluffy fanservice-laden romantic comedies. If you're not, there's plenty of highbrow manga out there for you to read, as well. Check out Osamu Tezuka's Buddha if you want a little more substance in your manga.
The book features characters that are more voluptuous than typical teenage manga designs, which adequately fits Arisa's flamboyant personality. Kurara may be shy, but she certainly has a body that's worth flaunting.
Del Rey handles the domestication of this series, as always, with admirable skill. The text flows naturally and it retains honorifics. They go as far as to include a handy glossary explaining the difference between the different terms, although it's probably safe to assume that most manga fans nowadays know the difference between -san, -sama, -kun and -chan.
Alterations to the original artwork are limited to small translations of sound effects in an unobtrusive manner.
There are a number of extras included at the end of the volume, including cultural notes, data on the author, and information on his staff. Del Rey Manga releases tend to be priced a little bit higher than the norm, but in my opinion, they easily justify their higher prices with superior production values.
Try Gacha Gacha if you're looking for a nice diversion from the stress of the holidays. It's an easy read, and while it might not tread on any new ground, nevertheless, it's very enjoyable.