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March 26, 2012

Bento Bako Weekly: Dengeki Daisy volumes 8-9

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Written by: Kristin
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Title: Dengeki Daisy
Author: Kyousuke Motomi
Publisher: Viz Media (Shojo Beat)
Volume: Volumes 8 and 9 (ongoing), $9.99 each
Vintage: 2010 and 2011 by Shogakukan in Japan, January and March 2012 by Viz Media
Genre: Romantic comedy

These two volumes finally get into Tasuku Kurosaki/Daisy’s past. The bulk of volume 8 consists of flashbacks telling his story. I don’t want to ruin all the little twists and secrets, so I’ll go light on the summary there. Dengeki Daisy is the story of high school student Teru Kurebayashi. Having lost their parents when they were young, Teru was lovingly raised by her kind brother Soichiro.  Unfortunately, Soichiro grew gravely ill, but before he died, he handed Teru a cell phone and told her that someone named Daisy would always watch over her. For some time, Teru found solace in sending emails to Daisy, who always replied with kindness and uplifting advice. With Daisy by her side, Teru became a kind and strong girl, able to stand up for herself and her friends. In her second year of high school, Teru found herself working as a servant for the school’s janitor, the handsome but gruff Tasuku Kurosaki. Eventually, Teru discovered that Tasuku and Daisy were one and the same. Teru kept this knowledge to herself, even as her feelings for Tasuku continued to grow. During this time, Teru also learned that Daisy was a well known hacker, and there were people who would stop at nothing to find him. After Teru did something dangerous to protect him, Tasuku finally decided to tell her the truth. But on that day, Teru was tricked by a man named Akira into sending Tasuku a cruel email. Akira also informed Teru that it was Tasuku’s fault her brother died. Tasuku apologized in a return email, but then disappeared. To protect Teru, and make up for his past mistakes, Tasuku embarks on a journey to deal with the organization trying to revive a dangerous computer virus he once created, the program that started everything – Jack Frost. Sick with worry and confused over Tasuku’s disappearance, Teru sinks into an uncharacteristic depression. However, after a cruel “pep talk” from Kiyoshi, Teru snaps back and decides to take action. She approaches Ando and asks for him to explain Tasuku’s “sin” to her. Everyone gathers together to tell Teru the story of Tasuku and her brother. It’s a story of government encryption codes, disgraced fathers, murder…and love. The gang reveals Tasuku’s past, including the circumstances around his father’s death and the creation of Jack Frost, which brought him to the company where Riko, Soichiro, and everyone else worked. They describe how it was Soichiro who welcomed Tasuku into their fold, encouraged him, and brought him happiness. They became a close knit family, which is why, when Tasuku made his greatest mistake, Soichiro gave everything to protect his dearest friend, even his life. After hearing all the details, Teru resolves to be the one to protect and save Tasuku this time.

Tasuku runs into the manipulative Chiharu Mori again, who warns him that the organization trying to revive “Jack Frost” will stop at nothing to meet their goals, even targeting those closest to him. This only strengthens Tasuku’s resolves to stay away from Teru for her own protection. Fortunately, Masuda finally manages to track Tasuku down, and gets him to explain everything that’s been going on. Meanwhile, Teru fills her friends in on the situation, and reveals that she has a fool proof plan to bring Tasuku back. With Masuda and Riko’s help, Teru puts her plan into action. She tells Tasuku she is going to meet with Akira, which of course sends him running to protect her. Only, when he arrives, it’s just Teru, ready to accept him for everything that he is. She has to get a little mean to knock some sense into Tasuku, but her perseverance pays off, and she is able to comfort him with a single phrase – “Thank you.” Her words free him, and a huge weight is lifted from his shoulders. The rest of the gang arrives, having been watching from near by, and exchanges information. Tasuku has finally come back to her, but Teru finds that she still doesn’t feel completely relieved. Somewhere in her heart, she fears that Tasuku will leave again. Riko and everyone play a trick on Tasuku, and force him and Teru to spend the night together so they can talk things out. With words filled with gentleness and warmth, Tasuku manages to convince Teru that he won’t ever leave her behind again. Everything then goes back to relative normality. Teru returns to school, and Tasuku also returns as janitor, and just like before, Teru works for him around the school grounds. Teru can tell some things have changed, however, like that the distance between her and Tasuku has closed somewhat. However, she’s left confused over a large part of her life that seems to have come to an end – her emails to Daisy. With everything out in the open, Teru feels silly continuing her emails, but at the same time, misses that connection. She brings this up with Tasuku, but he tells her not to bother, since Daisy was “fake.” Teru, who has put so much value into Daisy’s words, is understandably hurt, but what Tasuku really means is that he just wants to be himself with her now, and not his Daisy persona. They clear up the misunderstanding, and Teru realizes that no matter what Tasuku claims, there’s a bit of her Daisy in his words, in the little kindnesses he shows. Things are still awkward between them, but they’re moving forward at their own pace. And with some sudden news about the collapse of a company named Hyperion, a heavy weight is lifted from everyone, though it leaves them feeling a little empty. It also means that there’s a powerful element still in play that they need to worry about. The story of “Jack Frost” is far from over.

You go, Teru. There aren’t many shoujo heroines as proactive as Teru, willing to risk her life, giving her all for the guy she loves, refusing to sit idly by while her man puts himself in danger. And also willing to accept everything, good and bad, about the person she loves. Never once does she even consider doing otherwise. Never once does the thought occur to her to abandon him, give up on him, hate him. She believes in Tasuku, in who he is, in who her brother protected and entrusted her own safety with. And because of that unshakable faith she has in him, she’s the only one who can save him. It takes her a little time to figure that out (and a punch in the gut from Kiyoshi), but once she does, her course is set and she doesn’t waver. It’s an admirable quality, especially since there’s not much she can actually do. She doesn’t have the technical expertise of Riko, Ando, Takeda, and the others. She’s small and not particularly strong, though that’s never stopped her from threatening bodily harm to anyone who would dare hurt Tasuku. She’s strong of heart, which is her best quality, though she’s also a tad on the naive side. She learns, though. When she makes a mistake, she does her best not to make it again. At the same time, she’s stubborn, so even if she knows something will be dangerous, if it means protecting Tasuku (or anyone close to her), she’ll do it anyway, or find a way to use it to her advantage. She was raised with great care by Soichiro, and even Daisy had a hand in her development with his constant encouragement and kind words. She’s grown up learning to accept people for who they really are, no matter their faults, and time and again her bright smile and compassionate nature pulls those around her from their despair. It’s no wonder Tasuku is so taken with her. In volume 9, he tells Riko that he finds Teru “dazzling.” He started out protecting her to repay his debt to Soichiro, but eventually he fell in love with her. And now he doesn’t have to hide that anymore. He’s hesitant to reveal the depth of his feelings to Teru, but he is finally willing to be more open with her. What’s particularly enjoyable about these two volumes is the wide range of emotions from Tasuku. Motomi does a fine job of illustrating his emotions, showing how fragile he can be, and how at east being near Teru puts him. He’s quite fragile looking in these volumes, as he tries to carry the weight of his past all by himself. He desperately wants to be saved, but at the same time, he doesn’t want to involve anyone else in his problems. Unfortunately, everyone wants to be involved, and they’re not about to let him destroy himself because of one mistake. It’s clear from volume 8 that Soichiro had a lasting and binding influence on all of them, and his presence continues to watch over them, especially Tasuku and Teru. He knew his sister would one day rescue Tasuku from his despair, so although putting them together was a constant reminder to Tasuku of his sins, Teru’s presence was also uplifting. It was quite the conflict for Tasuku, who couldn’t understand Soichiro’s motivations, and didn’t believe he deserved to be happy. Finally, his eyes have been opened, and fans can rejoice over this next step for Tasuku and Teru’s relationship. Just don’t forget that a certain creepy someone is still out there and ready to cause more trouble. Frankly, I wish I had known about this series sooner; I would have been keeping up with it. It’s incredibly cute.


Review copies provided by Viz Media.



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