Karakuri Odette 4-5 by Julietta Suzuki: A-

When a manga’s back cover features the lines “She’s a hot robot in high school! What’s the worst that could happen?” one might be forgiven for expecting some sort of titillating romp to ensue. In reality, Karakuri Odette is about as far from that as it’s possible to get.

Odette is the crowning achievement of her creator, the genius roboticist Professor Yoshizawa, and when she expressed interest in attending high school, he made it happen. She’s now in her second year and has a small group of friends, only one of which (a misunderstood delinquent named Asao) knows her secret. Volume four begins with Odette making a delivery for the professor to the Ringozaka family, where lonely seventeen-year-old Shirayuki lives alone and still plays with dolls. Shirayuki is thus isolated because of a supernatural ability that allows her to hear the inner thoughts of others if she touches them. She can’t hear anything from Odette, though, and after learning Odette’s secret, decides to join her at school.

Prickly and awkward Shirayuki is a wonderful addition to the cast, and I love that most of this volume is devoted to the girls and their strengthing friendship. Shirayuki arrives at school with visions of being Odette’s protector, but discovering that Odette has more friends than she does makes her feel defective. When she learns that Odette’s being exploited for her friendly nature, however, she realizes that she’s needed after all. From Odette’s perspective, Shirayuki’s inexperience makes Odette feel much more like a real girl. When both of them are about to embark upon their first class trip, for example, Shirayuki’s nervousness causes Odette to happily think, “I’m just like Shirayuki.”

It’s those type of moments that I love best about Karakuri Odette. In terms of plot, it’s a gentle, episodic slice-of-life story that’s never boring but likewise not terribly dramatic. Odette’s progress, though, is really a delight to witness, and comes through in chapters like the one in which her friends all share photos of themselves as kids—and her dejection when she learns she has none of her own—or when her heart inexplicably feels constricted when Asao seems on the verge of befriending another girl. For a long time, Odette has struggled with the concept of what it means to like someone, and it seems she might be on the verge of a breakthrough.

Volume five is a little less satisfying, as it introduces a suave robot named Travis who’s looking for a bride, along with his unscrupulous creator, but there are definitely some good moments. One particularly nice chapter finds Odette worried that her strength makes her not cute, so she refrains from using her abilities when she and Asao fall victim to the grand shoujo cliché of being locked in the gym storage shed. Although some of the challenges Odette faces are a result of her particular nature, this sort of situation is something many a human girl has faced as well. Happily, Asao talks some sense into her and she ends up concluding that “using my skills is so much better than wasting them.”

For a feel-good story that simultaneously tugs at one’s heartstrings, I definitely recommend Karakuri Odette. To see what others have had to say about it, check out the Manga Moveable Feast archive over at Manga Report!

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  1. […] Michelle Smith brings us up to date with the two new volumes, 4 and 5. The series ends with Book 6, due in April. Similar Posts: Karakuri Odette Book 3 § Karakuri Odette Book 1 § Karakuri Odette Book 2 § Plan Now for the One Piece Manga Moveable Feast § Last Call for the One Piece Manga Moveable Feast […]

  2. […] Soliloquy in Blue, look for reviews of volumes 4 and 5. Michelle […]

  3. […] deal, and even though I was less than enthused by the addition of wife-seeking robot Travis in volume five and am therefore somewhat troubled by Odette’s bridal attire on the cover, I’m still […]

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