Sunday, December 17, 2017

Holiday Review: AHO-GIRL

There wasn't a lot of comedy manga to speak of this year, so all we had to read was manga like....THIS.

AHO-GIRL (Aho garu), by Hiroyuki.  First published in 2012 and first published in North America in 2017.


Yoshiko is stupid.  Abysmally stupid.  Her only interests seem to be playing, eating bananas, and tormenting teasing her neighbor Akkun.  Meanwhile, he's simply trying to study while keeping Yoshiko's stupidity under control and endure the weirdness of his fellow classmates.


There's not much of a plot in Aho-Girl.  That's to be expected, since it is a 4-koma comedy.  What isn't so expected is the fact that is one of the most painfully unfunny things I've read in some time.

It's not just the fact that the only real punchline is that Yoshiko is stupid.  There are plenty of 4-komas that derive all sorts of humor from stupid people.  It's that she's aggressively, annoyingly stupid.  She's not dumb but well-meaning or has some adorable quirk to offset her obliviousness.  She's vain, willful, and destructive.  She harasses everyone, regardless whether she calls them a friend or not.  She's not above sexual harassment, considering how often she hits on Akkun and grabs the hall monitor's boobs.  That's not even including the moments where she takes advice from her mother like "drug Akkun with sleeping pills and juice" or "handcuff him and force him to take part in mommy-baby roleplay."  It's little wonder that Akkun wants to hit her, but even that is a pretty troubling response.  These sorts of weird, mean-spirited moments are all over the book with nothing to counter them.

Actually, I misspoke earlier.  Yoshiko's stupidity isn't the only punchline because there really aren't any punchlines.  Oh, the strips end, but not in the usual way where there's a bit of wordplay, a goofy pun, or maybe even a protracted silence to let the joke sink in.  Here the strips tend to veer off in random directions as Yoshiko is guided by whatever thought has popped into her head, doing so until the chapter ends or she is rendered unconscious, whichever comes first.  The effect is not unlike having a small child on a sugar high chatter at you while spinning you in circles until you pass out or puke, and it's something that no so-called 'comedy' should evoke.


At least Hiroyuki tries a little harder visually than most 4-koma artists.  The characters exist above the waist!  There are actual backgrounds, and not all of them are the same classroom!  There's plenty of motion and attempts at physical gags!  There's also the occasional panty shot from Yoshiko, but at least it's always intentional on her part.  I just wish all of this effort went into something that was actually funny.


Aho-Girl is too random, too mean-spirited and just too goddamn annoying to amuse anyone who isn't as strange and annoying as Yoshiko herself.

This series is published by Kodansha Comics.  This series is ongoing in Japan with 10 volumes available.  4 volumes have been published and are currently in print.

Want to win a $25 RightStuf gift certificate to purchase manga like this one?  Then make sure to enter the Manga Test Drive's annual Holiday Review Giveaway here!

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