Hee. This is one of my all-time favorite mangas, it made it into my top 3 hands down. It’s got amazing characters (5/5), some awesome plot (4/5) and a fair amount of philosophy as well (3/5).
Themes/Questions: Do the means justify the ends, defining family, when is sacrifice a burden, age gap relationships.
As always, *words indicate a specific reference or spoiler and can be found at the end.
Image via this page.
First of all, let me spend a sentence praising the artwork. It’s gorgeous, it’s beautiful, I aspire to draw like this mangaka someday. Here’s what I mean:
Yeah. Gorgeous. From quotesgram.
For those who don’t know the premise of Dengeki Daisy, it follows the life of one Teru, a HS senior who’s brother died several years previous to the story’s beginning. Just before his death he gave his sister a phone connected to her very own digital guardian (kids, don’t try this at home): Daisy. These are her adventures and misadventures with her friend-through-the-phones. From broken windows to home invasions to attempted murder, they tackle every trial in her life together. And because it’s hard to discuss anything without spoiling one thing, here goes (you learn this a few chapters in anyway): Kurosaki is Daisy. They are the same being.
But how far is it okay to go when protecting the one you love? Or to protect the one you swore to? A major plot of the manga centers around the attacks on Teru and the search for a hacking program, Jack Frost. In order to protect her and keep the digital weapon safe, Daisy and his team hack all sorts of computers, place illegal listening devices and commit other crimes. But these are the good guys and are presented as such throughout. This is a very relevant question through the premise and plot of the manga, I only wish it would have discussed it a little more fully than it did. One of the most surprising messages (albeit a bit sweet) is that family is all important, and practically no sacrifice is too great when it will help a member of that family*.
This attitude does shed an interesting light on things as it shifts the focus from a group centered around doing right to one focused on protecting Teru and the other members of their family. Hard times come and sacrifices are common–but not always welcomed. I’m struck sometimes by the dual nature of service: so often it is loved and appreciated–but sometimes it makes the recipient feel burdened. This can be the case particularly when the recipient is fiercely independent. Or when the act of service as negative repercussions on the one who offered it, as was the case for Teru’s brother**. Then an charitable act (or duty, as the manga might see it–they’re considered family after all) becomes a sacrifice and a source of stress for everyone else.
Shifting gears a little bit, I want to talk about Teru’s brother. I know I didn’t list him as a major theme, but only because I didn’t know how to word it properly. The family love in this manga is amazing–not only between the makeshift crew of hackers, but also between Teru and her dead brother. You don’t get to see him often (he only comes out in flashbacks, after all) but his presence heavily influences each of the characters. For some he was a savior, others a lover–for Teru he was the dorky older brother who raised her.By the same token, in the flashbacks you get to see different sides of each member of our motley crew. I love nuanced, layered characters, and Dengeki Daisy does a fantastic job of laying making sure everyone has more than one or two dimensions***. I love the layout with the occasional flashbacks (even for a few chapters at a time), as they allow the reader to watch how relationships change, as well.
Very much like our OTP. Dengeki Daisy handles the matter of age gap relationships very well, in my opinion. Teru develops a crush on Kurosaki very early on in the manga, and their love story is our OTP for the length of the series (as opposed to some others that switch 4/5 of the way through and break my heart in the process). But just because Teru has feelings for a man 7 (9? I forget) years her senior doesn’t mean they’re reciprocated. And even if they are reciprocated that doesn’t mean he has to act on them–at least not right away. The manga spends many chapters developing the characters and adding to their growth before putting our OTP in a coupling position. This doesn’t mean there aren’t thump-thump moments between the two, or zero tension**** (they like each other, remember?) It just means they handle it with tact and reserve–even facing down the disapproval of another character for a little while.
All in all, I think this manga’s great and worth a read (or five, or ten, in my case).
My Rating: 10/10
**WARNING: HERE THERE BE SPOILERS**
The famous pose, via A Wacky Hieroglyph.
*No sacrifice is too great: Teru’s older brother died of cancer–but not unknowingly. In a tragic turn of events, Daisy (Kurosaki) was framed for using Jack Frost and killing a man. Even knowing his body was deteriorating, Teru’s brother refused hospitalization and worked around the clock to procure the digital evidence that would secure Kurosaki’s freedom. This over-work hastened the course of the cancer, and he died soon after Kurosaki’s release.
**Teru’s brother: as mentioned above, her brother helped Daisy out of a bad situation. But the fact that it cost him his life is a constant source of guilt for Daisy, and he puts all sorts of pressure on himself because of it. This pressure then l
***Dimensional characters: one of my favorite arcs of the manga is when Riko (a member of the team and dead brother’s girlfriend) sits down and explains the past to Teru. You get a new view of everyone–from punk kid Kurosaki to a business side of brother–and it really opens up Riko’s character. She’s stops being the “mature force” of the group and starts to develop a tender image in her own right. She misses brother, loved him incredibly, but still doesn’t blame Kurosaki for his death. All of the other characters get similar treatment, with the exception of perhaps of Master (the hulking, silent, bodyguard-turned-bartender).
****Romantic tension: Kurosaki has a mini war with himself as he falls in love with Teru. He’s not only aware that she’s younger than him (and is always respectful of that fact, leaving when the situation could turn south), he also struggles with the fact that his dying friend’s final wish was for him to take care of Teru–from a distance. A favorite scene of mine involves Teru taking care of Kurosaki after a bad nightmare. He’s shaky and disoriented, and he finally hugs Teru for some much needed comfort. It’s a sweet and touching scene, and to me it highlights just how unwilling he is to approach Teru. He’s obviously in pain, but it’s pretty much all he can do to reach out and ask for a hug.
From the scene, via quotesgram.