Kiniro Mosaic Volume 2 has a lot less culture clash, but the one-two punch of cuteness and energy still provide plenty of smiles.
Title: Kiniro Mosiac
Genre: Slice of life
Publisher: Houbunsha (JP), Yen Press (US)
Artist/Writer: Yui Hara
Serialized in: Manga Time Kirara Max
Translation: Amanda Haley
Original Release Date: March 21, 2017
Review copy provided by Yen Press.
You know those icebreaker questions where you ask someone like, “If you could meet any person, real or fictional, who would it be?” Well, at least when limited to anime or manga characters, I would say Kiniro Mosaic‘s Karen is rapidly rising to the top of that list.
Before I get into the reasons why though, let me tell you who did surprise me in this volume: Youko. Last time, I didn’t quite see how she fit in the group dynamic. Aya, the brains, would normally seem like the one who would be in charge of making snappy comebacks. While she is still pretty school-smart, her fantasies and delusions become even more prevalent in this volume. Youko, on the other hand, just kind of existed to be the object of Aya’s affections. In Kiniro Mosaic Volume 2, she definitely takes over the role of straight man. Even her friends think that’s her only purpose in life. (Ouch!)
Story-wise, there really isn’t much to say. Time is marching on as the girls celebrate summer and then the winter holidays, and the foreigners are becoming more adjusted to life in Japan. Karen speaks in complete sentences most of the time, and the language barrier is becoming thinner and thinner. Misunderstandings still occur of course (Alice mixes up the different kinds of festivals), but the puns are fewer. (A fact that I’m sure made the translator’s life much easier.) I enjoyed all these cultural misunderstandings so I was disappointed we didn’t get any “moya-moya” jokes.
But while Volume 1’s focus was more on the East-West divide, this one is more about the characters’ eccentricities. Alice, Shino, and the rest go on a hike through the mountains, but Shino decides to dress up like a fairy in the middle of summer. Aya tries to ask Youko out — as j-j-j-just friends of course! — while Karen continues to be Karen and go on quick international flights and does cosplay of characters she barely knows. I would normally call her an idiot, but she is just so earnest in everything she does. (Well, except studying maybe.)
The teacher and Shinobu’s sister also appear a few times. I do like how they get a few stripes without elevating them to full-time character status. The teacher’s ditziness can be found in many other manga, and Isami isn’t nearly as weird as everyone else. However, I would like to see Youko’s younger twin siblings become regular supporting characters. Their dead-pan comedy should play well against the gullible or prone-to-misunderstandings main cast.
Not much to say about the art considering it’s a 4-koma. I mean, most of the time, the panels are just character faces. I did enjoy a few of the visual gags like no one recognizing Youko when she wears a school cardigan. Karen also looks adorable in her various outfits. The individual comics still are easy to read, no doubt thanks to Amanda Haley’s smooth adaptation and detailed translation notes. I just wish the whole volume was fully colored like the bright and peppy opening chapter!
All in all, Kiniro Mosaic Volume 2 has a lot less culture clash, but the one-two punch of cuteness and energy still provide plenty of smiles.