Title: Shortcake Cake Vol. 1
Author: suu Morishita
Publisher: Viz Media
Genre: Slice-of-Life, Romance
Publication Date: August 7, 2018
Shortcake Cake is a new series from suu Morishita (Hibi Chouchou, Mada Amanogawa ni Ikenai) and VIZ Media that centers around a girl named Ten Serizawa who lives in the mountains and has to commute via bus to school. The bus takes two hours each way but Ten says that she doesn’t really mind the commute. One day, her friend Ageha Haruna asks her to sleep over at their boarding house in hopes that Ten would move in with them. After Ten meets everyone there as secretly as possible (since outsiders aren’t allowed inside the house), she makes a decision that she wants to move in.
The first volume spends its time exploring Ten’s first week inside the boarding house. She is introduced to a handful of characters but it’s the romantic side of things that take center stage. Right off the bat, a romantic triangle forms between Ten, Riku, and Chiaki. Riku and Chiaki seem to become rivals in order to win over Ten’s heart but it’s not done in a blatant way. The two of them only feel as if they are falling in love with her on the inside and it isn’t until late in the volume where Chiaki and Riku discover that they both possibly like Ten.
What I like is that the romance isn’t black and white right from the start. Both of the boys are conflicted as to whether or not they like Ten so it’s not a definite thing as of yet. It’s a nice example of how love starts within someone. It asks those questions of uncertainty and begins to build from there. Many romance stories will already establish the relationship or the interest between two characters right from the very beginning so it was nice to see the formative stages of love explored here.
So far, I’m really liking the story. There are some bits of comedy that are splashed in but they don’t seem over the top by any means. The comedy is pulled off rather naturally and seems to fit the flow of the story well. The characters play a huge part in this but not in a way where there is an imbalance.
There are a total of seven characters in this series thus far with one wildcard thrown in towards the end of the volume that I can’t really touch on because we didn’t even get so much as a name for him. All I can say is that he has a huge problem with Riku and he played a great part in building up Riku’s mysterious past. The character itself looks to be fun. With bags under his eyes and the inability to have any shame whatsoever (as evident by him biting Riku), I can tell he’s going to be a fun character. Reminds me of Bakugo from Boku no Hero Academia in the fact that he’s very outspoken and short-tempered but not to the extreme where he’s going to run around and tell people that he’ll kill them!
As for the main cast, let’s start with our center star Ten. Ten is about as normal as girls get. I can’t tell by the cover if her hair is white with awesome shading of if it’s different shades of blue, but the combination of amber eyes makes her design really stand out. I’m going to guess blue here because her hair is depicted as black in the non-color content of the volume. If her hair was white, it wouldn’t be depicted as such. Her personality is a bit average, though. She doesn’t have any real redeeming or outstanding qualities about her that make her stand out with the exception of the fact that she doesn’t mind getting to the point at times. She’s not really a shy character but she’s not really bold either. She’s just average. Still, despite her lack of unique qualities, she’s propped up by the other characters around her as well as the story so she ends up blending in nicely.
Ageha Haruna is Ten’s friend since elementary school and is the one who convinced Ten to move into the boarding house. She’s a bit more energetic than Ten but like her counterpart, there really isn’t anything special about her. Her personality makes her fun but she’s not overly energetic like most hyperactive anime characters. She’s toned down enough where she doesn’t come off as annoying but you can tell she’s caring and would make a good friend.
Aoi Ono is the third girl and she’s just there. So far, not much attention has been placed on her so I’m guessing we’ll see more of her in future volumes. Right now, she’s the “fly on the wall” character that pops in, says a line, and then is completely forgotten about. It’s the first volume after all… can’t have everything at once.
On the boys’ side of things, we start out with Chiaki Kasedera. He’s the “every girl’s dream” guy at school because of his good looks; however, he would much rather spend his time alone reading. He’s not a bad guy though as he’s pretty sincere, well-mannered, and is very considerate of others. He’s just oblivious the world around him with it comes to girls because he’s too busy reading a random book. It pays off as he can quote any author he wants for nearly any situation. As the volume progressed, he began to question whether or not he liked Ten. At first, he was just happy reading his books but he begins to take notice of her more and more. This is, of course, after Riku tells him he likes her and he encourages Riku to go for it, thus becoming the catalyst to this love rivalry!
Speaking of Riku, he comes off as a playboy telling every girl he sees that they’re cute. He flirts with so many girls that he’s constantly getting asked out by them but he always ends up rejecting them. For some unknown reason, he feels that he has to be nice to girls and compliment them whenever he sees them. That changes when it comes to Ten. She becomes the first girl he simply can’t give a compliment to and he begins to wonder why. He concludes that he may actually be falling in love with her. Of course, he ends up telling Chiaki as I mentioned above, that’s where the rivalry starts. Riku is a very outgoing individual and seems TOO happy for his own good. The fact that they teased a mysterious past with him shows that there is definitely more than meets the eye with his character. Especially since he lives in the same city as the boarding house so there’s no real reason for him to live there.
Lastly, we have Yuuto Yamaguchi. He’s the bookworm of the house and is the only boy allowed inside of the girls’ rooms because he helps tutor them. He’s the kind of person who cannot tell a lie but is extremely shy when it comes to relationships. He’s the kind of guy you’d think has no chance in hell of getting a girl but will probably, one day, end up with someone. He’s the kind of guy most girls would say “don’t worry, one day you’ll find someone” to while being locked in the friendzone. That makes you want to root for him in hopes that one day he really will find that someone. For now, he’s just the good guy study buddy.
The individual characters are pretty well-rounded but I felt that the guys got the bigger straws when it came to unique properties. It is still very early in the series so all of this can (and probably will) change over time.
I really enjoyed the first volume of Shortcake Cake. It did some world building, introduced us to the main cast of characters, gave us some character development, left out important pieces of information to make you want to know more, and left us on a bit of a cliffhanger for the second volume. In others words, it did everything a first volume should have done to get a reader interested. I don’t have any feelings that the second volume would drop off because it set it up in such a way where it really has no choice but to build upon what was already given here.
So far, I’m really enjoying Riku and Chiaki as far as characters go. They’re the ones that stand out the most while all of the other characters just seem like they’re there. That’s not to say things will improve as time goes on but when you have a first volume, every single one of your characters needs to make a first impression on the reader. I feel that both Riku and Chiaki did that by having more unique qualities about them to make them more memorable than the others. It’s fine if a few characters feel like they’re in the shadows because that’s the role of a supporting character sometimes but when you have a main cast of characters that just seem like they’re average, they don’t really stand out as much.
Despite the flaws, I can say that I’m hooked on Shortcake Cake. It has a nice charm about it even if the story has been done a few times before (with The Pet Girl of Sakurasou being the freshest example in my mind right now). If you’re into slice-of-life romances that sound like they’re about bakeries and strawberry shortcake but are actually not, then give this one a shot. I believe you’ll enjoy it!
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This item was provided for review by Viz Media