Monsters Growing: Rokudo no Onna-tachi Final Review

WARNING: ENDING SPOILERS

Rokudou no Onna-tachi by Nakamura Yuji is an unusual delinquent harem manga whose ability to embrace and rise above its basic premise has made me a fan through and through. The series concluded this year, and though it’s the kind of story where I could see the ending from a mile away, that doesn’t really impact how enjoyable it is to read. It’s a rare case of a manga that rarely falters and keeps getting better right to the finish.

Rokudou follows Rokudou Tousuke, a wimpy high school boy who uses a family spell to become more popular with girls but gets an unexpected consequence: The spell only works on “bad girls,” and number 1 among them is a human wrecking crew named Himawari Ranna, who’s practically an avatar of violence and destruction. While the series starts off as mostly gags, it quickly grows into a story about forging lasting bonds and finding the best version of yourself. Rokudou, like so many shounen protagonists, is all about the power of friendship, but even though the art is often unserious, the heart is definitely there. Rokudou genuinely cares for others, and he’s a surprisingly well-developed protagonist for a series that didn’t necessarily need it.

In my previous review, I likened Rokudou to Krillin, with Ranna like a cross between Android 18 and Goku due to the relative chasm in power levels. But if Rokudou is the Krillin, then his success comes from the idea that just because you’re not the strongest doesn’t mean you’re not strong—especially because there’s more than one way to be strong. Even if he’ll never have what it takes to win the biggest battles, Rokudou wants to make a difference where he can, while also having the desire to improve where can. And so when he does learn to throw hands, it’s like he’s both protagonist and side character simultaneously, and it doesn’t feel like a weak compromise. As the opponents get stronger—the final arc has Rokudou and pals up against full-in organized crime—so too must the good guys step up.

At the climax of the story, the question that has driven the series presents itself one last time: Could Ranna possibly care for, or even about, Rokudou if the charm spell were to lose its effectiveness? Was the unlikely bond they formed nothing more than an illusion? The answer is much like what happened with Lord Zedd and Rita Repulsa in Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: It may have started as an artificial love, but it became real over time. To the credit of Rokudou no Onna-tachi author, Nakamura Yuuji, this development feels more than earned by both Ranna and Rokudou. 

Whether it’s being serious or silly or even both at the same time, this manga feels right. I’m glad to have stuck with it, and I hope that it’s remembered fondly as a series that combined its hodgepodge of tropes into something beautiful and hilarious.

Rokudou no Onna-tachi: When Krillin Wins

In 2016, I found out about Rokudou no Onna-tachi, a new manga that was a fresh and interesting take on the well-worn harem genre. As I continued, my opinion of it only grew. Even now, I find myself regarding Rokudo no Onna-tachi more highly than ever. There are many aspects of this series that contribute to its success, but fundamental to all of it is the portrayal of its protagonist, Rokudou Tousuke, as a true underdog. In a sense, he’s the Krillin of the series, but Rokudou no Onna-tachi is a story where Krillin is the main character, and he succeeds because he’s not the strongest, or the toughest, or the smartest.

To recap, Rokudo no Onna-tachi is about Rokudou Tousuke, a meek high school kid who casts a spell on himself to be more popular with girls. However, what he didn’t know was that the spell was very specific: it only attracts delinquents and “bad girls.” Most notable among them is Himawari Ranna, the strongest and most terrifying brawler in town. It turns out that bullies are a lot friendlier when your ostensible girlfriend can shatter concrete with her fists, but Rokudou is the last person to want to encourage violence, so he actively tries to prevent Ranna from sending every person they meet to the hospital. Along the way, Rokudou manages to befriend an eclectic group of people and through a combination of friendship, guts, and kindness, accidentally becomes the “shadow boss” of his school.

I call Rokudou no Onna-tachi a delinquent harem work, but it leans much more toward the former descriptor than the latter, and I think the series is all the better for it. While there is a romantic aspect of sorts, as the series has progressed, a majority of the focus has been on Rokudou’s shounen protagonist-esque ability to win over his antagonizers with or without the attraction spell (which he can’t get rid of, no matter how hard he tries). And even when it comes to the delinquent girls who fall head over heels for him. What’s more, “being hot to bad girls” doesn’t give him much of a leg up in a fight, so his ability to stand up to bigger and bigger threats speaks more to his qualities as a human being than anything else.

And yet, while romance doesn’t define the series, the central relationship between Rokudou and Ranna is still interesting and vitally important to the tone of the narrative. If Rokudou is indeed a Krillin, that sort of makes Ranna the Android 18 of this story in that she’s the more powerful of the two. However, her role is arguably closer to that of Goku, or even Saitama in One Punch Man. She’s an unstoppable force in a fight, and many physical conflicts in Rokudo no Onna-tachi are a matter of anticipating the carnage to come as soon as she gets where she needs to be. She’s not a heroine with a tragic backstory or a brash amazon with a hidden soft side, and even those moments of loving infatuation toward Rokudou humorously highlight a central tenet of Ranna’s being: violence is everything. That dynamic of contrasting personalities between Rokudou and Ranna fuel both the comedic and the dramatic parts of the manga, and it’s all the better for it.

If Rokudou no Onna-tachi had just stuck to pure silliness, making jokes about how an endless parade of nasty girls were getting googly-eyed over a tiny loser, then it would have worn out its welcome far too quickly. But if it had swung too deep into the serious and dramatic, then I believe it would have had a harder time standing out from the pack. It’s because Rokudou can be portrayed as this unlikely hero, and that the series can swing between silly and serious so effectively by using his constantly being out of his depth, that the manga is such a rewarding and enjoyable experience.

[APT507] Rokudou no Onna-tachi: A Follow-Up Review for the Delinquents-Only Harem Manga!

Some months ago, I wrote a quick review of an interesting new manga, Rokudou no Onna-tachi. Now, I’m back with a follow-up, looking at the direction this odd series (where all the girls are angry delinquents!) has gone, and my latest impressions. Check it out on Apartment 507!

[Apartment 507] Rokudou no Onna-tachi Harem Manga Review: Every Girl is a Delinquent

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Weekly Shounen Champion has a new series, a harem where all the girls are delinquents. I wrote a review about it, so check it out.