Harumi Chihiro does it again. From "Velvet Kiss" to "Come Come Vanilla!" Harumi Chihiro delivers with her marriage between plot and harem/ecchi, to portray a young man, Kaji Rikou, who is confronted with a "monstergirl" named Vanilla and her master, Ibu Kiriko, with whom he (once upon a long time ago) made a promise to marry.
Here, the house-handy Rikou meets the anything-but-domestic Kiriko and Vanilla. Armed with his house-working skills and a scent that seduces all things animal, Rikou must confront Kiriko and the promise he made head on. The only problem is, he doesn't remember a thing! Comedy ensues as Kiriko and Vanilla hit
on Rikou as he deals with his problems.
Harumi Chihiro's art is perhaps one of the top reasons to read this. Not only is it visually satisfying (while not delving into H) it is also very well drawn as a whole. From the background to the characters, not one thing is left lacking.
As for the actual story, the story is not as hot as the art. While better than most atypical harem/ecchi, it is by no means Stellar. Compared to her earlier work, Velvet Kiss, this manga by far has a much simpler plot and focuses on day-to-day life and all out comedy on the whole.
The characters are not very memorable. That is, except Vanilla. Of all the characters, Vanilla is really the only one who has shown considerable development. Being part animal, she relies mostly on her instincts and the things that she already knows (not much.) Although later on she really develops as a character and the transition in itself is beautiful to observe *and so is she!
Overall excellent work. What else would you expect from Harumi Chihiro? Read one work of hers and it will not disappoint, especially if this stuff is your cup of tea.
4.5 stars out of 5 stars for this highly under read and underrated work.
Come Come Vanilla! (CCV) is a very light-hearted mix of comedy, romance, ecchi and underlying "drama" that creeps up slowly but surely. For those who rolled their eyes already, sorry looks like this manga isn't for you. For those whose interest was piqued a little then by all means, please continue. I tend to not read much works involving monstergirls- for lack of a better word but much to my surprise and chagrin, it was integrated quite nicely into the story. A few pages and chapters in and I already regarded it as normal; and I'll be lying if I said I wasn't taken
for a emotional ride nearing the end.
Chihiro Harumi's art is consistent as always. The overall toning was appropriate, shading was accurate, not excessive and character designs was drawn well. The details were setup properly to convey the mood of each scene and panel as well as the story as a whole. Our male protagonist gets a rather simple design like the typical high school boy. The female leads and possible love interest(s) are composed of the obvious loli bait character along with the curvaceous and kawaii-pie female who is also our main source of eye candy. The artwork was definitely geared towards a softer, "dull" and cutesy presentation and while I did enjoy it- I am more of a fan for clean, sharp and defined designs.
A few varying factors in this department. Mainly, character interactions, reactions and dialogues were on point, loved it. So, Rikuo our male lead's personality is pretty much established early on and likewise for Kiriko- thus they don't have as much development as Vanilla- that's not to say that they don't have any at all. You can see the transitions for each respective character but in my opinion it takes a backseat to Vanilla's. She (Vanilla) is easily the main focal point when it comes down to reviewing or critiquing character assessment. Of course being non-human, her confused and new found emotions are to be expected but how she comes to terms with these emotions and learns to cope with them really make her shine as a character. The supporting characters aren't a selling point as they didn't add much to the overall setting aside from some minor drama or a change of pace for the readers.
Overall, I'm glad I found and read this manga. While some parts weren't memorable and impactful, it will definitely be a story that I can refer back to on a by-name basis. I may sound like a broken record by now but Vanilla is truly a memorable character and will be one of those unique characters that I will remember for a long time. This manga is not a classic, hidden gem type of thing but rather a refined, consistent and reliable piece of work that knows when and where to shine. For light-hearted romantic comedy fans that enjoy that sprinkle of drama in the mix, step right up.