Jun 6, 2016
ICHINENSEI NI NACCHATTARA - REVIEW FOR ENTIRE SERIES
[Availability] - |Fully Translated on several fan-translation/scanlation platforms|
Ichinensei ni Nacchattara kicks off with 17-year old male protagonist Takatou Iori saving a first-grade elementary schooler from getting run over by a truck and is killed in the process. This is hardly a new idea--Yu Yu Hakushou had done this with its main protagonist in almost exactly the same way a whole 17 years before Nacchattara had even started its run, and don't think that no other series tried their hand at it in the proceeding 17 years. Nachattara does start to flex its creative muscles immediately after this initial
scene, however--Takatou Iori is brought back to life (this term is actually used in the manga) by a perverted lolicon scientist. There's just one small problem: his body has regressed to that of a female first-grade elementary school student. What's more? He has to attend elementary school in his new form and live with the girl he liked as a high school student, as said perverted lolicon scientist is her sister.
Nacchattara is, first and foremost, a comedy manga. It's peppered with drama here and there, has elements of ridiculously unrealistic Sci-Fi and sometimes opts for action-oriented panels, but these are mere extensions of its almost entirely comedic premise. Don't expect Nacchattara to delve into heavy, dark or overbearing themes at any point throughout it's run--you will be sorely disappointed. At several points, Takatou's condition is treated with some more realistic weight, which counterbalances its comedy-centric plotline. However, this drama only exists for the comedy--not the other way around. Nacchattara is a series chiefly focused on the one-off escapades of its elementary school students with a pretty cool gender-bender, age-regression twist. And Nacchattara does this really well--if you're all for a light-hearted tone and humorous antics, this series is for you.
That being said, Nacchattara does have an overarching plot line, but this doesn't really kick into gear until around 15 chapters into the story, where it gradually comes to the forefront of the series as time goes on. By around chapter 50, its episodic nature, along with its focus on school life, is completely thrown out the window for an over-the-top plotline with its sense of comedy distorted into an entirely different type of humor. By that point, you might as well finish it since the series has had a largely great run so far, and it even focuses somewhat on character development--but it's not Nachattara. Chapter 50 says, 'screw pacing, screw authentic atmosphere, and screw carefully-crafted character development, we need to finish this series--and quick!'
It's abundantly clear that the mangaka's series had to be pulled for one reason or another; maybe the mangaka got bored with the series, or maybe there was a decline in sales. For whatever reason, the series lost its heart. In retrospect, this might have been a long time coming; around chapter 30, the series slowly started to become more serious and wandered further away from what made it so enjoyable to read in the first place. It was impossible to take Nachattara's drama seriously because of how over-the-top it was. If it was intended as comedy, it was a complete failure. It loses all of the wit and charm that made the earlier parts of the series great and directs focus to its entirely bonkers plot and largely shallow characters.
Nachattara didn't need complex or deep characters to be an enjoyable read, and at the beginning, it knew this. It used its characters masterfully as set pieces, plot devices, and punchlines. It used them for all they were worth and managed to be a very enjoyable series for it. However, as time goes on, Nachattara seemed to have forgotten this and tries to make its characters deeper and more complicated. Unfortunately, these characters were never really designed to be complex or deep in the first place. Takatou Iori is the sole character who had space for this sort of development, and Nachattara actually pulled his development off quite well. Having met with great success, Nachattara decided to go crazy with characterisation and development and tried doing this with all of its characters, but they just didn't have the capacity for it. At best, they became the deepest that shallow characters could be.
When Nachattara started to focus on its characters, the series lost a lot of its charm. However, for the first 30 or so chapters, its characters are handled quite well, and they're all very enjoyable to watch. Each character is its own healthy variation of a well-known archetype, with the protagonist perhaps being the sole exception. Iori has a strong sense of identity and does a great job of adding character to the manga as a whole. The interactions between Iori and everyone else, particularly the perverted lolicon scientist, are largely what bring life to the setting. Iori is simply very entertaining to watch and mixes so well with all the other personalities--(s)he brings out the best of everyone else's personalities because of how strong her own character is. It remains unfortunate, then, that at the climax of the story, Iori wasn't treated nearly as well as he/she should have been.
Art is a big part of any manga--even if the characters are good and the story is great, if the art is terrible, it's very difficult and painful to read. Poorly-done art can take away from a series while fantastic art does nothing but add to the series in terms of atmosphere and also characterisation. How does Nacchattara's artwork fare? Quite well, actually. It's nothing ground-breaking in terms of beauty or style, but it's pleasing to the eyes and detailed enough to bring life to the setting. I don't really care for the colour pages, but its black and white panels are pleasing to the eye. It's more than serviceable. However, I have to make mention of this: Nachattara is chock-full of tasteless ecchi. I didn't notice it at first--perhaps due to desensitization or because of how engaging the series was--but there is a surprisingly large amount of loli ecchi. One particularly bad offender is a bath house scene where almost every female character in the cast gets naked. Panty shots and the like are relatively common in Nachattara, too. I'm not a fan of ecchi, so I don't know what I would actually consider tasteful ecchi, but I can tell you that Nachattara would not be a part of that group.
While Nacchattara does fall apart in its climax, the rest of the series is charming and it has a lot of heart. Nacchattara had a good thing going for it, but unfortunately, it tried to be more than it was. If it were set up differently, and if the last 10 or so chapters were better executed, Nacchattara could have been an enjoyable series all the way through. But unfortunately, that's not the case. Without focusing on the downfalls of its latter half, Nacchattara is a very enjoyable series for its first 40 chapters. If you don't mind a bit of ecchi, I would recommend it to anyone wholeheartedly. It's a funny, light-hearted and largely episodic series, peppered with just the right amount of drama here and there to give its narrative some weight. Chapters 50+ take this drama up to eleven and completely destroy what made Nachattara so enjoyable in the first place, but putting that aside, the first 40 chapters of Nachattara are perfectly enjoyable. Nachattara has a solid recommendation from me.
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