By: Nami Sano
Translator: Adrienne Beck
Release Date: (English Translation) August 4, 2017; (original) January 15, 2013
Publisher: Seven Seas
Series: Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto
I have made a point to borrow as many manga from my local library as possible. This decision was fueled partially to fray the costs of buying hundreds of volumes a year, but also as an attempt to get the library to purchase more manga titles. One of my recent borrows was Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto Vol 1 by Nami Sano, a manga in a genre my husband refers to as ‘strange people doing strange things’ but but would also fit into the wonderful ‘beautiful boys who do things well’ genre.
The story is about Sakamoto, a high school boy who is good at everything. He’s good a great student, a great athlete, and is good at a wide variety of hobbies. On top of that, he’s very clever, always able to get around any situation that may arise in creative and surprising ways. This manga follows Sakamoto through his school days.
The view point this manga is told in fits the story beautifully. We never quite see the story told from Sakamato’s point of view. It is most often told through the eyes of those around him. Those who hate him, those who would try to use him, those who admire or adore him – it is through them and their interactions that the reader gets to know Sakamato.
Sakamato is a very skilled individual, seemingly good at everything. He’s good at schoolwork, sports, and he’s attractive. Needless to say, this leads to some people worshiping him while others want nothing more than to show the world that Sakamato is human just like the rest of us and concoct plans to do just that. This, of course, is easier said than done. Humorous situations abound in this manga as people try to one up, use, or humiliate Sakamato to no avail.
There isn’t much in the way of character development as far as Sakamato is concerned. But those around him do grow. The change in the side characters who we see the story through is very apparent. Nearly everyone Sakamato comes into contact with is changed in some way. Sakamato himself, however, remains much the same throughout the manga.
There is not a lot, if any, overarching plot to this manga. However, I don’t think it really needs one. This is a comedy slice of life manga, with one humorous, slightly unrealistic scene popping up after another. The volume is rather episodic with different chapters telling different stories surrounding Sakamato. It’s fairly fast paced and very easily digestible.
Many school based manga have art that is enjoyable and clearly speaks to talent, but doesn’t have the sort of detail and nuance that something such as, oh, a high fantasy based on beautiful settings, would have. Simply put, that type of attention to detail and background is often unneeded, with focus on expression or storytelling filling in that void. But the artwork in this manga falls clearly outside many of the usual norms I find in school setting manga. Backgrounds are fully drawn, not falling into the stark white backdrops often found in shojo titles. Faces are expressive, and detailed. The illusion of movement is beautifully drawn with several pages in particular standing out, the most notable of which shows several characters moving around a fire.
Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamato by Nami Sano is a series I’ll be continuing with. Though it may not have much in the way of an overarching plot, it is fun nonetheless. If you like lighthearted comedy and a more episodic structure to your manga this is one title you’ll probably want to check out.