Friday, 23 March 2012

Manga Musings: GE: Good Ending

So my latest read manga-wise has been to catch up on another of my 25 Days of Manga series, GE: Good Ending. Normally, while I don't avoid them per se, I don't tend to actively seek out harem series. They aren't always my favourite of genres, but having been given this as a request, I read a bit and actually enjoyed it.

Initially, Good Ending is a romance story about a regular if not wimpy high school boy, Seiji, who is in love with his upperclassman in the tennis club, Shou. Then in some odd twist, the class beauty, Yuki, decides to help him pluck up the courage to confess to his crush. This section is all rather simple and it's pretty easy to figure out where some of the plot is headed, but it's enjoyable nonetheless. However, as the series goes on, it develops into more and more of a harem series and for me that's when it starts to lose some of its initial sparkle.

My biggest issue with harems is that it always seems to be so wholly unbelievable and Good Ending is no different. Nine times out of ten, the central male is weak and generally naff, something that Seiji fulfils in pretty much every way. Initially, he's an incredibly cowardly and timid guy, and granted in that respect he does mature a little though not all that much. Throughout he suffers from what seems to be a crippling lack of self-confidence and indecision and as a result every little thing gets blown up out of all proportion.

Frankly, I have no idea why all the girls seem to flock to him. I mean, Oonuma clearly has some kind of mental issues given her naivety, her history and the way she clings to Seiji like a limpet purely because he's kind to her. About the only thing our central protagonist has going for him is that he's nice and kind to pretty much everyone, but he's not THAT good a guy - especially when his dithering ends up being harmful - and this is where the central problem lies.

While in the beginning, I was cheering Seiji on, willing him to overcome his shyness and win over his crush, as time went on I found myself getting frustrated and annoyed. There are only so many times that you can watch one guy hesitate and get into so many misunderstandings that set his relationships back two or three steps.

Girls like me?! Yeah, I know, Seiji. I'm having a hard time believing it too.

Outside of the harem aspect there are certain bits about the story that I do quite like. The history regarding Yuki's past relationship for example, I found quite engaging. For a seemingly long time, the mystery surrounding it kept the interest factor up, and I wanted to keep reading to find out just what happened. Then when all was revealed, the effect that past events had on her current love affair kept the whole thing fresh, and judging by the way things are going, her past will likely return once again. I do like that there are several plot threads running alongside each other at once, but this also works as a double-edged blade. There are certain aspects that feel tacked-on and unfocused; the main one that springs to mind is the whole photography aspect with Seiji. It's introduced as a way for him to move forward and seems like it will help to resolve his lack of motivation for the future as well as potentially adding to the list of females after the hapless teen. However, the whole thing seems pretty half-arsed, and it's fallen by the wayside only to reappear once or twice when it's convenient. Likewise, Touru coming back into the picture has been hinted at for a while but once again seems to have disappeared no doubt to return later on. Sadly, this lack of focus takes a little away from the otherwise well-woven plot threads, like dropping stitches while knitting and ending up with a nice yet rather holey sweater.

As much as I personally find Good Ending to have its fair share of problems, I still find it an easy read and when all is said and done, I do quite like it; it's just not one of the most incredibly amazing series out there. I'd say that if you like the harem genre, a dash of good humour and a few panty shots then it's worth checking this out.

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