Title: The Girl in the Arcade Vol. 1 Author: Okushou (story), MGMEE (art) Publisher: Seven Seas Language: English Format: Paperback Page Count: 162 Genre: Comedy, Romance Publication Date: March 8, 2022
The story for this manga is about as simple and straightforward as it gets. Mobuo works at an arcade. A busty girl named Nanora walks in and gets harassed by some delinquents. She makes short work of them but Mobuo sees her panties and wants him to teach her about the different arcade games there as payback.
That’s what this is… plain and simple. It’s a slapstick comedy series with more fanservice than an actual hentai. The volume does try to spice things up by introducing Mobuo’s childhood friend Shinomiya. The last couple of chapters have Shinomiya and Nanora battle it out in a medal game as this has now turned into a story of a war between two girls, each who claim that they don’t like Mobuo at all…
Except the ending highly suggests that Nanora has feelings for him after it was painfully obvious that Shinomiya does, too.
To be honest, I have never seen a gathering so large of one-dimensional main characters in my life.
The only thing Mobuo has going for him is that he works in an arcade. Outside of this, he is the same type of bumbling main character that finds himself in odd sexual positions with a hot girl… all of which are misunderstandings because that’s the only type of sexual comedy you will find in Japan, seemingly. He is the ace of the arcade and good enough to be a pro-gamer; however, he has the personality of a noodle. If he had some sort of quirk about his personality that would allow him to stand out more, it could have been pretty decent.
Nanora, on the other hand, is a very poor example of a tsundere. She’s loud and obnoxious almost as if she were doing it just for the sake of adding some life into this series. In reality, she gets really old, really fast. The whole “teach me” that leads into the sexual misunderstanding comedy gag is the only thing she’s there for. Of course, they would try and give her some redemption by making her romantically interested (or at least starting to become aware of that interest) at the end but, honestly, that was such a given from the very beginning that its impact about as hard as a feather floating onto a pillow.
Finally, we have Shinomiya, who is just Nanora with a different personality. Like… literally… both Nanora and Shinomiya are good at video games, are on the student council for their respective schools, and try to hide who they really are from their peers. The only difference outside of her design is that she’s Mobuo’s childhood friend.
So, they copy/pasted a character, changed the looks, and call it new. And that is supposed to add what to this story?
When I read the synopsis, I gave it a chance because romantic comedy is one of my favorite genres. Add in an arcade and some geek culture to the mix and you have the recipe for an epic series (Just like Hi Score Girl). Sadly, this was nowhere near the quality of Hi Score Girl… or Wotakoi… heck, even Gamers.
For those who enjoy slapstick comedy, this series will be right up your alley. For those who enjoy fanservice… this series will really be up your alley as every page and jam-packed tighter than Mobuo’s trousers at the end of every chapter. If you enjoy slapstick AND fanservice, this is going to be the holy grail of manga for you.
For me, it was a dud. Every situation was repetitive and boring. It followed the same formula of:
Nanora needs help -> Gets help from Mobuo -> Mobuo explains the game -> Nanora becomes good -> Sexual misfortune comedy gag -> Repeat.
About halfway through, I began to flip through the book to see if anything interesting was going to happen. That’s when I saw they introduced Shinomiya so I picked it up there and, shockingly (or not), they just did a copy/paste and forced a love rivalry onto us.
Again, unless this is your forte and the type of series you live for, you can skip this one. There are MUCH better geek romance/comedy series out there. If you love this stuff, go nuts. You’ll enjoy it.