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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.