I was really looking forward to reading The World of Machida-kun. I can’t quite explain why. You know when you first see someone at school or at work. And you think to yourself, I bet I would really get along with that person. We should be friends. And you don’t really have a reason to think that. You’ve never spoken to them before. They look like a pretty normal average person. But you have decided you like them. Well, that’s how I felt about The World of Machida-kun.
Now let me ask you another question. When you do get that feeling about someone, does it always work out? Have you ever been very wrong and the person turned out to be a jerk?
Why I Picked up The World of Machida-kun
I remember just seeing the cover of the first volume and getting intrigued because it was sideways. And when I looked it up, I found that it was quite well-liked by the people who read it and had the most understated summary.
Hajime Machida, despite being a completely average teenager, is adored by his family, friends, and even his classmates. His kind and helpful nature leads to special encounters on a daily basis, whether it be with his younger siblings at home or just someone he meets on the street. Through these interactions and brand new experiences, Machida begins to learn more about himself and the differences between the various types of love.
My First Impression
This is a different kind of adorable.
What I liked
The World of Machida-kun really surprised me. At first glance, it seems like a rather normal slice of life manga but there are enough little tweaks here and there to the classic tropes, to make it feel like a completely novel experience. At least to me.
For instance, one of the first things you find out about Mahida-kun is that he is a really fantastic brother and his siblings love him. He’s also very helpful at school and has won the admiration of other students because of it. He’s also very bad at everything! Despite the fact that he has been doing all the cooking for his family for 6 months while his mother is pregnant he still only knows how to make fired or boiled eggs. Anything else turns into charcoal. He looks like a dull nerd and people sort of assuming he does well in school. But he get such horrendous grades that at one point he had to take makeup exams for every single class. He’s clumsy and an awful athlete. Not at all the golden boy, I thought I was going to read about.
Of course, Machida-kun does have one thing he excels at. He’s very kind. Or as the manga puts it, Mahida loves people and they love him back in return. By itself, that may not be so unusual. Although I’ve rarely seen it paired with quite so many flaws before. Still, the helpless/oblivious good guy is an archetype that exists, even if it had fallen out of fashion for some time.
Where The World of Machida-kun becomes a bit more unusual, is in how the world in question reacts to Machida. His kindness is rewarded in ch an organic way. This isn’t the nice guy martyr who is unappreciated by others but you, dear reader, know of his enormous heart and love him for it. He’s not the virtuous hero either, whose good deeds save the day at the crucial moment.
Let me give you just a random little example. Machida comes from a large family, they have 6 children and he is the oldest. When she was younger, there was an instance of his little sister almost getting bullied. Machida finds out and rushes to fight off the bullies for her. Now Machida is much smaller than the other guys and by now we all know he does not stand a chance in a physical fight. But immediately one of the guys goes, “oh Machida, is that your little sister. Sorry we didn’t know, we’ll get out of your hair”. The other guy asks “you know that kid?” and the first guy replies “he helped my grandmother the other day, he’s a good guy”.
That’s it. Machida didn’t somehow turn them into model citizens, his kindness didn’t convince them to never bully people again. He also didn’t get beat up but won their begrudging respect because of his compassion and courage. No, he simply did a nice thing and the people affected by it were grateful, in a normal way. But it’s those little nice things and simple gratitudes that pile up to create a world that is just deeply comfortable and caring. And well, it’s really nice to spend a little time in a world like that.
I don’t think I can quite express it properly in a post like this. It really is the sort of story you have to read for yourself. The best I can do is say that The World of Machida-kun is a celebration of simple goodwill. And it reminded me that there can be something wonderful about people. Not just about one extraordinary person, but about everyone. That’s a really nice reminder to get from time to time. And it’s not a message we get that often.
On a more practical note, The World of Machida-kun is a complete story. It was first published between 2015 and 2018. That may not be a big deal to some but I have been left hanging by a few manga I was really into. That’s why I have grown to really appreciate a manga I can get a proper conclusion to.
The World of Machida-kun is a feel-good slice of life story. Every chapter in the 7 volumes is pretty much stand-alone although there are occasional callbacks to events that happened earlier. Machida is central to all the stories and for the premise to work, he is an extremely reliable and well-defined character. Basically, once you get to know him, it’s quite easy to tell exactly what Machida would do in any situation.
Moreover, I don,t know if it’s a limitation of the author or simply a fact that there are only so many ways to illustrate kindness. Acts of helpfulness, patience, emotional support and understanding. After 7 volumes, it does get a bit repetitive.
Now I should put in a caveat. I read The World of Machida-kun over the course of a few days. This was dumb. This isn’t a series that is meant to be binged. And it’s the main reason why I even noticed that it could get repetitive in spots. Sure, there were some nice moments with subtle callbacks that might go over your head if you forgot the reference. But I still think that a more spread out reading of The World of Machida-kun is likely to be a more enjoyable experience. Just a warm little manga you can jump into whenever you need a pick me up ad get through a chapter or two.
As such, I’m willing to chuck that up to user error.
The second thing I didn’t like as much was the love story. There is a fairly important romantic b plot that actually starts in chapter 1 and goes through the entire series. It’s not present in every chapter and even when it is, it’s almost never the focus. However, it is the closest thing to an overarching plot The World of Machida-kun has.
And here’s the thing. As far as they go, this is a really nice romance. It’s gentle, it doesn’t have any of those contrived obstacles, everyone is respectful and I think the two would make a wonderful couple as it’s very clear what they see in each other and bring to the table. There’s none of that melodrama that tends to get on my nerves. Sure Machida is a bit slow to realize his feelings (because he’s a bit slow in general) but once both are on the same page it’s just a great loving relationship.
Honestly, if you like romance, I don’t think there’s anything to dislike here. Maybe aside from a lack of drama for some, I guess.
And I didn’t not like the romance. It’s just that being who I am (a self-describe nonfan of romance) I liked everything else about The World of Machida-kun a little bit more than this particular subplot.
To be clear, this is once again a me thing and I could say that about most stories. I also bet that I would have felt differently if I was in a different mood. So it’s not like this is a flaw or anything.
Oh boy, I obviously really struggled to find anything to complain about in The World of Machida-kun. After all that, the only two points I made were more about how I’m peculiar than anything about the manga itself.
I’m not saying this is a perfect manga and everyone should read it. It’s about a teenage boy who’s really nice and people appreciate that. That’s it. I figure there will be a lot of readers that find that pretty boring.
But it was the perfect manga for me. It’s the type of story I tend to really like. And I bet that if I had come across it while I was going through a more difficult time, it would have helped me out. The optimism streaming from it is just so comforting.