Shows/Manga You Might Have Missed: Yamada-kun to 7-nin no Majo

High-school student Yamada Ryuu is Suzaku High's resident delinquent, skipping classes, getting into brawls and a social outcast to his peers. That was until he had a fateful accident with model student Shiraishi Urara on the stair caused them to switch bodies! The rest of the plot involves the formation of the Supernatural studies club in order to unravel the mysteries behind the 'witches' in their school, each with their own distinct abilities.

Well, that is pretty much the synopsis of the first arc of the manga by author Yoshikawa Miki, and it would be so so easy to write it off as a generic high-school romantic-comedy harem. As I started reading the manga a couple years back I went in without much expectations, I came out pleasantly surprised, generic or harem this is not.

For a series where powers like body-swapping is a thing, the story is written well enough to extract plenty of wit and entertainment from even that simple power. Even after the central gimmick of the series is revealed early on (highlight text for spoilers: Yamada has the ability to copy the abilities unique to each witch, the body-swapping powers specifically belonging to Shiraishi) and the series moves on into a character-of-the-week format where Yamada and co. uncover the identities of the various power users in the school, it is a testament to the authors abilities to keep the plot and characters consistently fresh even if its rules are not. And much credit must be given to Yoshikawa's ability to always keep things interesting in the moment while consistently pushing the main plot lines forward at a brisk pace. 200 plus chapters and 4 arcs on in the manga, it still remains a light, entertaining but compelling read, even as its peers like Nisekoi begin to fizzle out.

Yoshikawa's art is very attractive, featuring strong, clean lines and nice character designs, with an art-style that is clearly inspired by her time as the assistant artist to Fairy Tail, but soon evolves for the better as her work develops its own distinct look. Her panels are well arranged to allow the pages to flow smoothly and with ease. Yoshikawa's great art, together with solid written, strong characters, , surprisingly nuanced handling of its subject matters with plenty of clever twists to mix things up help keep the story consistently entertaining and is one of the few manga I read on a weekly basis.

The other thing I want to talk about today is the anime adaptation of the series. Despite its attractive art design and decent production by studio Lidenfilms, as someone who read the manga it was difficult to not feel that it was a watered down version of the original, not due to any inherent failures of its production, but mostly because of the need to fit what is 24 episodes worth of story into half that amount. What the anime DID do very well on is the voicework of the characters, most notably during the many body-swapping shenanigans that take place early on. The casts behind each character did an excellent job at changing up their tones to reflect the different personalities in the same body, and oh boy was it the most FUN I had heard voice-actors have in a long time. I would recommend seeing the anime's first few episodes doe that reason alone.

Yamada-kun to 7-nin no Majo is a very solid series if you are looking for a light, comfortable read. Well written and consistently entertaining, it will make a good gender-neutral addition to anyone's library. The original manga is the go-to way to enjoy the series, but the anime does have some hefty dose of entertainment value on its own.


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