It's a great series with a unique premise but I feel there's a lot of untapped potential by the end of it.
Asides from being a unique point for drama, the dichotomy between humans and youkai could be explored in a more fulfilling way.
Characters are introduced and forgotten quickly in this series and the whole thing comes off as a unique pretense for a typical romance story.
The story falls somewhere between modern fantasy and romance, without fully committing to either. I feel like it was made simply because monster girl series have been popular lately and while it tries to add something new to the growing
genre it doesn't go far enough.
In the past, I've encountered stories that attempt to be a slice-of-life setting about otherworldly beings or bizarre phenomenon. One way to assert the story's quality is to check if it establishes a setting to which it caters the outside element well enough to be normalized. If it does inject something you don't expect to be found in an everyday scenario, it must justify its existence by presenting a predicament that becomes the central focus of the story. Kanojo wa Rokurokubi falls short of exploring its eccentricities, and it has to do with how it unfolds its story.
The manga begins with an impression of
being a sweet slice-of-life story about a long-necked girl Natsuki and her blossoming romance with her childhood friend Itsuki. The supernatural element’s presence is there, though it’s usually restricted to Natsuki stretching her neck for various comedic efforts. The first few chapters are laid-back and comfy, with the occasional tense moments, which I enjoy. However, it developed some issues when it shifts to a direction of being a story about the dichotomy of humans and youkai. This could’ve been incorporated in the early stages of the story by being a heartwarming story about a youkai’s progressive acceptance of the human world. Think about stories like Demi-chan wa Kataritai or Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon where they manage to address the dichotomy issue while simultaneously be a relaxing and fun slice-of-life. For the case of Kanojo wa Rokurokubi, it fails to succeed in doing this which is why it feels so unfulfilled.
On a more positive note, I enjoy Natsuki's interaction with Itsuki. Their chemistry is something, despite that they fight from time to time. The slice-of-life element is there, albeit it gets drowned out by the forced drama that came out of nowhere in the second half. I also enjoy the character designs, as I find them quite charming and pleasant to look at. All in all, it's a manga that is not entirely without merit. Just because the manga fails to do something, doesn't mean it has no redeeming qualities. It indeed showcased a lot of potential, only for it to come to waste by ending prematurely. I'd still recommend this, but I've seen other slice-of-life works that have done better than this.
It is, for the most part, your typical high school rom-com spliced with a gimmick to make it stand out a bit. And it works really well for the majority of the series.
The monster/youkai girls are all like-able and even funny at times. They don't fall squarely into the stereotypes that are currently being abused by manga authors, ex: tsundere, yandere, delinquent, gyaru, though I have seen people describe them as having tom-boyish qualities, which I can kind of see. Personally, that's a bonus for me. Their tom-boyishness means that they're not quite as oblivious and sensitive as some other manga characters and call
each other out on some bullshit, like when Ichijou calls both Kanoi and Itsuki out on their blatant feelings for each other. However, this doesn't mean that they are completely un-oblivious. Kanoi is probably the most oblivious and hesistant about pursuing her relationship with Itsuki. On the other hand, Itsuki, though also oblivious, can be surprisingly forward with his affection for Kanoi, which is incredibly refreshing for a manga of this type.
Kanoi and Itsuki have a good dynamic when they're in scenes together. Unlike other romance manga where two characters are supposed to be "childhood friends" but feel and act like incompatible strangers, the MCs in this story joke around with each other easily and can have comfortable conversations. The mangaka also doesn't shove the "childhood friend dynamic" in your face every five seconds. I've read so many manga where the only reason you even know that two characters are childhood friends is because one or both of them constantly remind the reader, "Oh yeah this is exactly like what happened ten years ago! You know because we're totally CHILDHOOD FRIENDS!!!" every chapter. In this manga, backstory shit like that is limited to flashbacks, which is a good thing in my book.
There will be SPOILERS from here on out, so skip to the conclusion if you don't want to see them.
So everything sounds good right, even if it's a bit boilerplate? It was good, and could've been really good, if the ending didn't fuck things up. Maybe the manga was unexpectedly cancelled, or maybe the mangaka wanted to move onto another project; I don't know, and I don't really care enough to look into it. All I know is that things were progressing at a great pace, until the last few chapters brought in the unnecessary drama of Itsuki's mom coming to drag him off to another city. In the midst of this drama, the mangaka teases a confession, only to have the manga end on a cliffhanger that resolves nothing and doesn't tell the reader shit about what will happen to any of the characters in the future. I'm inclined to believe that the manga was cancelled as that's the only reason I could think of an ending being this rushed and sloppy. It really fucks up what could have been an incredibly satisfying moment of reconciliation between Itsuki and Kanoi.
CONCLUSION: Entertaining characters, a few funny moments, good relationship between female and male MC, doesn't get too hung up on its gimmick. Unfortunately, all of this good stuff is damaged by an ending that is completely unsatisfying. Still, the first 75 percent of this manga stands far above most of the rom-com manga that I've read recently, which have been such absolute shit that I won't even bothered logging them in my MAL account. Give it a try if you don't mind a story that ends in the middle of an arc and leaves you with no closure.
Just personal scratch.
Advised, possible spoilers.
Opinion & Informal
Art: 6/10 Quite nice looking. It's sorta unique, sorta sorta. Character proportions were good. Character designs were acceptable. Girls were fairly cute. Main guy looked pretty good.
Panel Progression: 5/10 Nothing really fancy done in terms of panel progression and panel layout. Simple flow and nothing too confusing. There were some parts that could have used some extra panels for more clarification or flow. No two-page spreads or impact-panels which is a minus for this manga.
Characters: 6/10 Sorta likable. Main guy was boring and uninteresting. The main guy was just there to be there to make it a
romance. He didn't contribute much at all. His back story was introduced but never really and truly explored or concluded well. Girls were alright. Some were kinda cute, kinda. They were all sorta bland. That includes the MC girl too. The main girl was sorta bland too. Sorta cute. No real antagonists in this story besides the main guy's mom, but she was sorta just left in the background.
Plot: 5/10 Average romance. Tries its hand at being a SOL but never really takes off. The SOL parts were kind of bland and unamusing. The romance parts weren't really satisfying either. A lot of it was beating around the bush with not enough impact to make the steamy moments exciting or satisfying.
Development: 7/10 I personally liked the little twist where you find out about the whole two cities separated by a bridge, separating the Youkais and Humans. Also the little twist that the main guy has actually been living in the youkai side of the bridge. The little information that we're given and the mysteriousness behind the nature of the youkai/human separation and how everything is revealed around this plot point was done well enough in my opinion. This was honestly the biggest part of what kept me reading because the romance aspects and SOL aspects were unappealing and uninteresting enough to keep me turning pages.
Conclusion: 6/10 Sort of abrupt and not exactly an open-ended ending. It still is sort of open-ended. The extra omake chapter wraps the whole story up in a way that doesn't leave me mad or satisfied. Honestly the whole conclusion was weak. If not for the omake chapter the conclusion would have been a letdown and a mood killer. The final chapter's conclusion is just an abrupt ending with no clear direction or I would say meaningful ending. Another way I guess I would put it is that there are some trivial yet concerning questions that have yet to be answered as well as ones that arise all because of the conclusion that this manga decided to take. The omake chapter's conclusion doesn't do the story much justice and sort of feels like it's half-assed.
Overall: 5/10 The romance doesn't really feel as fleshed out as it should have been. 22 chapters is enough to get a good romance narrative in, but I feel that this manga wasted a lot of time with pointless chapters and tried too hard to incorporate slice of life aspects. It's fine to include SOL aspects and some funny chapters, but it should be supporting the romance. The comic relief of this manga seemed way too forced as well. Overall this manga tried too hard with its comic relief and SOL attempts that it detracted from the romance and ended up making any serious attempt at romance, steamy moments or meaningful character development fall short.