Clumsy Arashiyama is a girl with a love for mysteries and a knack for getting into trouble. She works for an old lady's lackluster maid café in a small shopping district. The cafe is largely unsuccessful in attracting customers aside from Sanada, a regular and one of Arashiyama's classmates (who has a secret crush on her). One day Arashiyama's clever friend Tatsuno is invited to the café, and, upon seeing the miserable state of things (and Sanada, whom she has a secret crush on), decides to work there. Don't miss the crazy antics of Arashiyama and friends, mismatched love stories, and all the hilarity that is created as a result, in Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru.
This manga deserves more reviews, and so I am writing one.
The synopsis gives a good description of the events at the beginning- the first 2, 3 chapters. I will be clear that this is not a romance manga and there will be no resolution to any love stories. I wish it was not so, but things stay exactly the same at the end as they were in the beginning- apart from Hotori moving to her 3rd year of high school and one of her seniors (Kon-senpai) graduating.
The characters are where the real charm of SoreMachi lies. You have the Arashiyama family, the 3 regulars to
Seaside Maid Cafe, Hotori's High School friends and various others. The chapters are (mostly) stand-alone stories, sometimes a mystery Hotori solves, sometimes just a normal day in her life. Keep in mind that the chapters are in a non-chronological order, I first noticed this when Hotori's hair length kept changing between successive chapters. Still, the episodic nature of the manga ensures this is not a big deal (until the last chapter).
There are some supernatural elements too, like aliens, heaven, alternate dimensions, ghosts, monsters, a memory erasing gun etc., The supernatural aspect is the least developed though and only comes in once every 10 chapters or so. But it serves to freshen up the stories once every now and then.
Lastly, even though the serialization of the manga has ended, the story itself does not give any sense of having ended. Its like we were given a tiny glimpse into the lives of the people in the shopping district. Life will still go on for them (figuratively speaking), but we won't have the pleasure of knowing what happens afterwards. Sanada has still not confessed to Hotori. Tatsun has also not confessed to Sanada yet. Ebi-chan and Takeru (Hotori's brother) are a cute elementary school couple. Kon-senpai has started college and has moved away to another town. If only we could see what happens after graduation for Hotori. 'And Yet the Town Moves'.
There is something great about reading a manga about a normal daily life and feeling a powerful immersion with that common, ordinary reality. It’s delightful to read something so simple and yet so captivating with its wacky adventures and charismatic characters. And that’s Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru, or SoreMachi for short, for me.
SoreMachi is a manga about a mischievous and aspiring mystery writer girl called Arashiyama Hotori and her adventures as a normal school student, who also works as a maid in a local restaurant. She lives in the downtown and her neighbors, as well their shops, have an important role in the story. Arashiyama’s
relationship with her neighborhood is somewhat close to a family relationship: they know her since she was a child and are pretty much used with her mischiefs. There is the owner of the restaurant/maid-café where she works, an old woman who acts like her grandmother, the owner of a local drink store that is like a big sister and so on. This whole neighborhood/family bond creates a very warm feeling around the characters and it's a powerful representation of a family not connected by blood ties, making the city not only just a setting but an important character among them.
Not only that, but the characters are fun in their unique way. The manga follows an episodic format, so you can have a chapter with Arashiyama playing a detective-esque role trying to solve a local mystery or just chillin' out with her friends, but also a chapter around any character close to her doing something totally different and interacting with different characters. The manga creates a setting where everyone can have their shining moment and play their role as a unique character in the story, which can also help to expand its cast.
What is so great about SoreMachi is how it has so many sides and yet it works so well, be it a chapter about Arashiyama’s normal school life and her interaction with her friends, a mystery being solved, some kind of random supernatural event, or an emotional and deep moment of a character. It takes so many routes with its episodic format, but the result is not a mixed reaction. Its real forte is on creating random situations and letting the characters do what they do best. And that's what a slice of life manga should aspire to be. You can show great moments of an ordinary reality if you create great characters to explore it.