Dengeki Daisy, Vol. 1
written by Kyousuke Motomi
Kyousuke Motomi's shojo manga series Dengeki Daisy starts out in Volume 1 as a strong addition to the genre, including strong characterizations, an emotional drawing style, and an intriguing mystery. While the volume seems to include many tropes familiar to shojo manga, Dengeki Daisy includes a digital twist by making one of the main characters a mysterious hacker hiding behind the digital persona Daisy.
The main character, Teru Kurebayashi, is all alone in the world. Her one family member, an older brother that she loved above all else, died under somewhat mysterious circumstances. Before he died, he gave Teru a cell phone. This cell phone would be her contact to a mysterious figure named Daisy, who, according to Teru's brother, would always be there to support Teru emotionally. At the beginning of volume 1, it is clear that Teru takes this promise quite literally, leaning on the texts from the anonymous Daisy for emotional support.
However, when Teru breaks a window following an altercation with some rich bullies at her school, she finds herself becoming an indentured helper to the school janitor, Tasuku Kurosaki. Kurosaki, a twenty-something chain-smoker, seems to enjoy nothing more than making Teru work. However, it becomes quite clear rather early in the volume that he has ulterior motives for wanting Teru close, and that he is not as malicious as he appears. Slowly he starts to emotionally support Teru as well, and Teru starts to allow herself to open up to Kurosaki.
Because Teru is actually a very strong character, the interactions between Teru and Kurosaki are quite humorous and touching. If Teru were weaker, or Kurosaki slightly more malicious, some of the servant/master interactions might be annoying or uncomfortable. Teru's independence of spirit is actually quite surprising. At the beginning of the volume you almost expect her to be a weak character; after all, she is relying on the emotional support of an anonymous person just because her brother told her to. As the volume goes on, you see that she takes that support for what it is worth, while allowing it to build up her own independence and strength. Teru calls for Daisy's help when she thinks she needs it; she stands up to people on her own when she thinks she can.
The anonymity of Daisy is an interesting digital twist to the series. It calls into question the ethics of the anonymity of the digital world, while looking at more standard questions as to whether hacking can ever be a force for good. This twist will surely appeal to today's teens, and allows the series to stand out from the rest of the genre.
The first volume of Dengeki Daisy is highly recommended for teens 14 and up. It is at times sweet, at times action-packed, at times mysterious. Kyousuke Motomi has definitely made an interesting addition to the world of shojo manga.