Kyou no 5 no 2
1 Volume – Completed
Kyou no 5 no 2 (Today in Class 5-2) revolves around the lives of a bunch of fifth-graders and their antics at school. There’s the troublemaker, Satou, and his two friends, Imai and Kawai, who have amongst their other classmates a bunch of girls. These are headed up by the feisty Chika, along with the tomboy Natsumi (who refers to herself by the masculine “boku”), the quiet Aihara, the gossipy Asano and the somewhat scatter-brained Hidaka. In amongst the usual antics rowdy kids get up to, it would appear that Chika is developing a crush on young, unsuspecting Satou – and that’s the basic premise behind this story. It’s about that time in life when you first become vaguely aware of this strange creature called “the opposite sex.”
Sakuraba has latched onto a topic that one can have a great deal of fun with – and in some cases he does – playing off the slightly more aware girls (they do say girls mature faster, after all) against the blissfully clueless boys. There are some genuinely funny moments too, such as Satou’s explanation that men are into collarbones (which, as a friend described, is all a 5th grader really has to offer…) backfiring on him, and Chika’s attempt at a stolen kiss turning into a head butt.
Right: Satou caught between a rock and a… er… collarbone.
The artwork and character design is simple, but effective, especially when it comes to Satou’s (and occasionally the others’) facial expressions when shocked, scared or trying to weasel his way out of a corner – he conveys a sense of wisdom or accomplishment beyond their years. It seems to be a trademark of his, as he utilises the same device in “Minami-ke.” Another plus is that he doesn’t try to make the characters look overly moe. If anything, they look like 5th graders should.
However, for reasons known only to the mangaka, he’s also made virtually all of the stories unnecessarily ecchi. The subject matter should be able to – and does, on occasion – offer enough laughs on its own, without having to resort to pantyshots, glimpses down blouses and so forth (and the scene in the storage shed is just nasty). Admittedly, none of the set-ups are intentional, and the laughs are supposed to lie in the characters’ (usually Satou) reaction to, rather than the ecchiness itself, but it is a cheap shot at getting a guffaw and it wears thin very quickly.
Unfortunately, at the end of the day, Kyou no 5 no 2 is no more than a good idea, that fails miserably in execution, which is a bit of a shame coming from the same author of the quirky and sweet “Minami-ke.”
[Reviewer: Gerwyn Petty]