Sunday, May 22, 2022


It's always hard for a mangaka known for one long-running series to branch out and try something new.  This series is certainly proof of that.

PARADISE RESIDENCE (Paradaisu Rejidensu), by Kousuke Fujishima.  First published in 2008 and first published in North America in 2016.


At the all-girl Kikka Institute, there is an old-fashioned dormitory building.  It's there that Hatsune Takanashi lives, a vivacious tomboy who lives for food and sleep.  This series follows her everyday adventures alongside her long-suffering roommate Suzuka, the elementary-aged dorm mother Misawa, the scantily-dressed foreign exchange student Stephanie, and more.


I've got my suspicions about how Paradise Residence came about.  By the late 2000s, Kosuke Fujishima had been working on Oh! My Goddess for over 20 years.  He wasn't quite ready to end it, but it was definitely heading towards its end.  Meanwhile, the anime and manga of the time are chock-a-block with slice-of-life style comedies about groups of cute schoolgirls.  Fujishima has done a fair bit of similar content in his own manga over the years, so it's not crazy to think that he looked at the likes of K-On! and  was like "Well, I can do something like that!  Hell, I could do it even better than these amateurs!"  And thus Paradise Residence was born.

Still, Paradise Residence has its differences.  Tonally, it's closer to something like Here Is Greenwood than K-On!.  It's less blatantly comedic, though.  Paradise Residence goes beyond mere low-key vibes; it's outright casual in its approach.  It's also drawing on different, older character dynamics and types.  There's no one here who could be summed up as some form of "-dere."  There is a certain charm to it all.

That being said, how much you like (or even tolerate) Paradise Residence will depend upon how you take to Hatsune.  She's something of a bimbo who is bad at school, good at sleeping in late, hates  natto, and loves nothing more than sweets, curry, and mangling idioms.   Oh, and because this is a Kosuke Fujishima manga she's also something of a secret gearhead when it comes to motorbikes.  If this sounds charming or amusing, then you'll probably get some decent chuckles out of this.  If it doesn't, this is going to feel aimless and dull.  

It doesn't help that Hatsune is probably the strongest character in concept here.  There are certainly others around her, but they largely revolve around a single gag or two which is repeated ad infinitium.  Misawa is motherly despite her age, Stephanie is frequently undressed, Hatsune's rival Nyutabura is haughty, and so on.  These are characters that you can tool about with off and on, but they're not really strong enough to carry an entire manga on their own.


Not shockingly, this is where Fujishima shines.  After all, he had spent the last few decades drawing cute girls and he's refined it to an art.  His character designs were very different from what was in vogue though.  Instead of being squishy little moeblobs, these girls have small eyes, fairly realistic hair, and the sort of proportions you'd expect out of girls in their late teens.  He puts a lot of effort into rendering the worn-down dormitory and the natural beauty around the school.  He also occasionally admires the natural beauty of the girls, although these moments of leering are at least brief and not overly aggressive.  He also still has a knack for comedic reactions and physical comedy.  If only it were in service to a more focused premise.


Paradise Residence is a pleasant enough diversion, but I can see why this wasn't a hit.  I can't see anyone seeking this out unless they were desperate for more 'cute girls doing cute things' material or were some sort of Fujishima completionist.

This series is published by Kodansha Comics.  This series is complete with 4 volumes.  All 4 were published over 3 omnibuses and are currently in print.

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