I remember reading about Happy Kanako’s Killer Life in a press release from Seven Seas and thinking it sounded like exactly the type of manga I would enjoy. I waited for it to actually come out for months and when it did, I ordered the first volume immediately.
In the interim though, a few of my fellow bloggers and just general manga readers had managed to get their hands on it and the reviews were rather unenthusiastic. This bummed me out a bit and cooled my own excitement I did eventually receive the first volume but I set it aside to read whenever I had a hole in my manga reading schedule.
Why I Picked up Happy Kanako’s Killer Life
I mean the press release made it sound really good.
It also started out as a doujin and I like to encourage independent artists.
When Kanako accidentally applies to work at an assassination agency, the timid office worker discovers that she has a knack for bumping people off. Will she ever earn the respect of Sakurai, her prickly and kinda hot co-worker–and why is she still having silly workplace problems when she’s employed with hitmen?! This full-color manga is dangerously funny!
My First Impression
What I liked
First of all, when they say full colour, they mean it. Happy Kanako’s Killer Life is essentially a 4-koma but there is a lot of continuity between skits and everything is in beautiful colour! I enjoyed that, it’s a nice change.
You may be thinking for yourself, how do you accidentally become a hitman. Well, it makes more sense than you would think. Kanako is working at one of those soul-sucking office jobs that some of you will recognize all too well. She’s simply going through the motions and sinking deeper and deeper into a type of quiet depression. So when she realizes she needs to do something, she’s still in that sort of numb and frantic state. She’s happy to go to any interview she can get. And obviously, postings for hitmen have to be a bit cryptic.
I thought this was going to be a goofy black comedy. And it is. What I didn’t 4xpect is the very interesting bending of Kanako’s morals and point of view. Kanako knows that killing people is an extremely bad thing to do. She knows the job is dangerous and she is too embarrassed to tell her family or friends about it. But she’s also never been treated with this type of respect from her boss, and she’s never had such good synergy with her coworkers. And honestly, she’s never felt a sense of accomplishment from a hard day’s work like she does now. The people that end up on her list are murderers and awful criminals so…
And quickly, she notices that her biggest frustrations are more the fact that she can’t simply gun down the guy in the combini that is beign super rude to the poor cashier that did nothing wrong.
It’s really awesome to see how the character evolves and the commentary on what we value both in our society and in modern work culture is on point. It was also funny! Of course, it’s exaggerated but you can’t help asking yourself that maybe, just maybe, if you were in Kanako’s place you would also start to enjoy the job.
Yhere are some real eccentricities in this manga. Actually, I should say, Kanako is very eccentric. She might be on the border of being just a bit too wacky for most people and it certainly will make relating to her more challenging to some.
One of the ways this wackiness is expressed is through constant basic wordplay. She uses animal names instead of words a lot to make silly puns. And then those animals are illustrated. She even breaks reality and talks to them sometimes.
It’s a very silly and sort of infantile joke. And by infantile I mean it’s likely to amuse small children. Yeah, it’s dad jokes. Constant silly dad jokes in the middle of this rather dark comedy. It took me a while to get used to it and I personally don’t hate it at all. But I’m not sure it adds that much to the story and I can easily see readers get annoyed by it.
At the end of the day, I really enjoyed volume 1. Maybe it’s because I had read a few bad reviews and was getting ready to possibly drop this without finishing the first volume. But when I went in with that mindset I found myself pleasantly surprised. Pleasantly enough to order another volume in fact. I read this before bed and ended up going to sleep with a smile on my face.