Title: My Clueless First Friend Vol. 1
Author: Taku Kawamura
Publisher: Square Enix
Publication Date: March 7, 2023
Akane Nishimura has a problem. Everybody in her school thinks she’s cursed and so she has been given the nickname The Grim Reaper. Kids make fun of her all the time but one day all of that changes when a boy named Taiyo Takada transfers to her school. Taiyo; however, is a complete idiot and doesn’t understand that Akane is being made fun of. Instead, when he finds out that she’s a Grim Reaper, he thinks it’s the coolest thing in the world and tries to befriend her. Akane isn’t open to friendship at first but Taiyo begins to insert himself more and more into her life and suddenly, things change!
The manga itself is pretty episodic; however, it does break into a story arc revolving around summer vacation. Akane didn’t have any plans but Taiyo had a ton. He suggested that they spend a lot of time together and begins to make his plans hers as well. They end up going swimming together but shortly after, Taiyo is going to meet some friends at his old school while Akane is going to visit her grandmother. Turns out, they are both in the same town!
Here, they spend more time walking around and exploring the town until it’s time for Akane to visit her mother’s grave. There, Taiyo has a complete change of heart about how he thinks of Akane… in a good way. They finish off the volume with their friend Hino bringing some fireworks for them to light at a shrine.
Akane is a very gloomy girl that covers one of her eyes with her hair and likes to wear all black. Her appearance is what led to kids calling her the Grim Reaper but instead of fighting back, she just accepts all of it and thinks of the teasing as normal. Once Taiyo befriends her, the teasing bothers her less and less and slowly she begins to develop feelings for him. It’s a really nice transition that seems a little quick but still feels balanced and natural. I really liked her development but sad to say, the real star of the manga was Taiyo.
Taiyo really is clueless. Not only does he misinterpret her nickname as her having actual powers (to which he wants some for himself), but he starts saying a lot of things that are innocent to him but really suggestive to Akane. Stuff like “I’m always happy when I’m with you” or “what’s wrong with holding hands? I want to do it more!” or “I think you look really cute!” or even “You really are an angel!”
Stuff like that would be a dead giveaway to a romantic interest in one another but Taiyo means them in a completely different way. Like when Akane’s sister refers to her as an angel, he thinks she’s a literal angel with holy powers. Or when he says he’s happy, he means it in the literal sense as far as raw emotion and not in a romantic way. In other words… he really is clueless… and that gives him a lot of charm.
Hino is on the track team and one day, Taiyo ends up beating him! This made them best friends, apparently. Hino likes the occult… and tank tops… what a combo. He doesn’t seem phased by Akane one bit and treats her just like another other normal kid. He seems a bit clueless, too, but definitely far from how clueless Taiyo is. He just plays the role of the awkward normal friend and it’s a good fit.
That’s how I would sum up the first volume! The only nitpick that I have is that it tends to repeat the same point a lot. How Taiyo is her first clueless friend, or that Akane is a grim reaper. Even some of the kids that tease her don’t even sound mean. In fact, they all seem like wannabe delinquents but are failing hard. This adds to the comedy of it as Taiyo’s cluelessness short-circuits every attempt they make at poking fun at Akane. Plus, with Taiyo blurting out the most clueless stuff, it doubles down on the comedy.
Speaking of the comedy, nothing feels forced. It all just flows naturally and creates a pleasant reading experience. One thing though is that it brings the good version of frustration into the fold. As the volume wears on, it’s painfully obvious that Akane is falling in love with Taiyo but she also realizes how clueless he really is. This means she knows that if she were to say something, Taiyo might not even understand what she means. This means that we’re going to get teased with a possible relationship for a very long time until someone sits down and slowly spells it out for him.
I hope a moment like that is coming… it’ll be an amazing payoff but like Akane, we’ll have to sit back and endure all while realizing that Taiyo is just super clueless!
This looks to be a great series! Can’t wait to check out more!
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This item was purchased for review.