Pita-Ten

Pita-Ten

imageVery much stuck in his boring routine, young student Kotarou Higuchi is on his way to school one day when he meets a girl named Misha. Not only does this girl beg Kotarou to go out with her, but she also proclaims to be an angel – and then she moves in next door! Very quickly Kotarou’s rather simple life becomes overly-complicated. Not only does he have Misha following him around but also her new flatmate: a demon-in-training named Shia! Chaos ensues as Kotarou tries to balance his school and home life alongside the supernatural characters that have even more to them than meets the eye…

The drawings in Pita-Ten are nothing short of adorable, with characters so sweet that they might just make your teeth ache, and it’s no surprise when you discover that Koge-Donbo was the manga-ka for this series.

imageOne of the things that Pita-Ten does very well is mixing the serious with comedy. The antics of the characters are so light-hearted and fun for so long that when the storyline makes its inevitable turn into the deeper side of the plot, it makes you stop and take note. The expressions of the characters can change dramatically from cheery and smiley to serious and sad that it’s a little bit startling. You think ‘oh, look at poor Kotarou, still having to deal with Misha and Shia’s antics’, and then suddenly you find that the three characters meeting up and becoming friends isn’t the cheery coincidence you first expected.

However, I found that this manga took a lot of time to getting around to what it really wanted to say. I found myself having to persevere through some of the volumes when I thought that nothing of real interest was going on – just the same old things: Misha clinging to Kotarou and being unable to do the simplest things on her own without causing mayhem for everyone around her, Shia being quiet and melancholy, and the quite unimportant actions of the secondary characters. One thing in particular that bugged me was Misha’s speech patterns. Practically everything she said ended in -su. I suppose this was meant to be a cute type of suffix that was meant to endear her to the reader. It had the exact opposite effect on me, since I have never before (or since) wanted to reach into a book and crush a character’s head.

The real saviour of this manga is Kotarou himself. He is a sympathetic character, with a lot on his shoulders for a young boy even before angels and demons started living next door. But he wasn’t a pitiable character, he just does his best and soldiers on – and it was pretty admirable considering that Misha was constantly setting the stove on fire and Shia was always trying to suck his blood.

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When the plot finally does get its act together, this is where Pita-Ten really shines. It takes on serious things that the characters have been trying to avoid for the first few volumes and finally addresses its main underlying theme: how people deal with the loss of loved ones. It’s a powerful theme, and one that’s handled beautifully and bittersweetly in this instance. It then opens the way for some very touching scenes and flashbacks with fairytale-like hints of a children’s story.

I was very pleased that I hung in there with Pita-Ten. The eccentricities of the characters at the beginning of the story only draw you to them more when the tragedy sets in. Then you can really see what’s been hiding behind all the silliness and slapstick up until this time. There are many similar mangas out there with the similar theme of ‘average boy meets supernatural girl’, but Pita-Ten is one of the classics and has a unique poignancy that sets it apart from others of its genre. A very sweet story that I would recommend to others.