For those of you that were like me and wondering what a “Randsell” is, it’s basically a backpack. Or a satchel which is a much better title for this series, but hey… not my job. This was my first experience with a manga that was clearly a comic strip. Each story with the exception of the weekend strips, are four panels running top to bottom. There’s a bit of an overall narrative, but not one that’s strong enough to really be called the main plot. Instead it just follows our main characters, a fifth grade that looks like he’s in his twenties and a sophomore in high school that looks like an elementary student. Miyagawa Atsumi is our high school student and even though she’s half the size of her brother Atsushi, she plays the role of the big sister. The comedy comes from Atsushi though. Because he’s only a fifth grader and looks way older he’s constantly in trouble. A running gag is that the police always pick him up when he walks with other student’s home from school. Another gag comes from his teacher who must remind herself that he’s just a little boy. That’s Atsumi’s role. She reminds you the most that Atsushi is just a kid by helping him with school problems or just telling him no when he wants to eat candy and only candy.
The formula is simple, but I really enjoyed this book. I read it in chunks because otherwise the jokes wear off. I don’t know if this is actually a daily comic strip in Japan, but much like any comic strip they’re funny because you’re only reading one a day. If you blow through the entire book at once then you’re not going to enjoy the latter half of the book.
It is formatted for Japan, meaning you have to read right to left top to bottom. Occasionally, I would forget this and read left to right and spoil jokes. Having only a digital copy I was also forced to read the opposite way a manga is supposed to be read so that too added to the confusion. I imagine that reading it in print would solve a lot of these problems.
The art is really simple, but good. There’s not a lot of detail due to how small the frames are, but you can tell that there’s a lot of skill and design being put into each panel. With only four panels to work with, creator Meme Higashiya does an incredible job of picking what will make the biggest impact or help the joke. The character designs are great as well, the other kids in Atsushi’s class really look like children and that’s the perfect counter to Atsushi’s size and look.
Overall if you’re looking for a laugh then this is something you should check out. The jokes are all within the same range, but if you laugh at one you’ll likely like the others. It’s a fun story and pretty different from any other manga I’ve read.
Recorder and Randsell Creator: Meem Higashiya Publisher: Takeshobo/Bamboo Comics Price: $ 4.99 Release Date: 9/1/15 Format: Trade Paperback; Print/Digital