What if I had a chance to redo something that could have changed my life? Would I work harder to make sure that this event turned out in my favor? Would my life be better if I decided to change myself more? I would often ask myself these questions after I discovered that I got a B+ on a test in high school. Questions like these are why I'm so attracted to Groundhog Day style pieces of media because there are so many factors that can play into scenarios like these. Of course this style story has been done to death, but I always keep an eye out for stories like these because they always have the potential to do something interesting. So when I read that Ore ga doutei o sutetara shinu ken ni tsuite is about a man given another chance to go through life, but fate seems to be pushing him towards his original fate, I'm bound to be intrigued.
The story follows, Ichijo Kazuya, a man who was killed by his best friend, Tanaka Masaki, under mysterious circumstances. After the night of his death, Kazuya wakes up 15 years in the past to discover that he has been sent back to his high school years. Confused and scared, he begins to relive his past in hopes of avoiding his fate. Since Kazuya became a playboy during high school, he tries to avoid his past sexual encounters in hopes of not incurring Masaki's wrath for he wasn't as lucky as Kazuya. What follows is deep mystery that evolves as the series goes on with a dash of character development mixed in.
By no means is the story of Ore ga doutei o sutetara shinu ken ni tsuite original, but it's execution is extremely good. This manga presents us with what Kazuya thinks is the main reason why he got killed and he acts in a way that could potentially solve his problem, but as the story goes on, the mystery deepens. What we initially thought was the main reason Kazuya got murdered by Masaki actually turned out to be a small part of the truth. So, the story focuses less on having Kazuya try to keep his libido in check and more about who Kazuya is and elements that actually drove Masaki murder him in the future. The way the story unfolds is excellent too because there is a ton of foreshadowing to some of these developments if you're paying attention to what Kazuya chooses to do and his interactions with the other characters.
What's so disappointing about this manga is that its characters are pretty compelling, but the way they interact with each other is poorly written. This is especially apparent with Kazuya because we are shown how much of a sleaze ball he was in his past life and how he's trying to reform, which is very compelling. On the other hand, Kazuya's interactions with the supporting cast are incredibly bad because he mostly ignores the supporting cast unless he wants something from them. Though this attitude does play into his character a bit, it feels unrealistic that he does this all the time.
Also, Masaki fares terribly when compared to any of the other cast because he get very little screen time even though he is a major player in Kazuya's life. I would have expected some type of character development with Masaki because he is the main reason why Kazuya acts the way he does. I would have expected to see some kind of reason why Kazuya and Masaki were friends in the first place as well, but we aren't shown that either.
The other side characters are ok overall, but they're a mixed bag. The smaller side characters are usually very interesting because Kazuya never met most of them in his previous life, but they are never explored. The more major side characters are more interesting because they get more screen time and character development, but they ultimately do nothing in the end except talk to Kazuya.
Usually in Groundhog Day pieces of media, there is usually some kind of consequence to changing reality, but it feels like this mechanic isn't very prevalent in Ore ga doutei o sutetara shinu ken ni tsuite. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but not having this kind of mechanic makes this manga's story feel a bit too saccharine for my taste. What I mean is that it feels like there is no weight behind changing fate. Sure some things don't go exactly to Kazuya's wishes, but in the end, changing fate comes out in his favor. Without any sense of what could go wrong with changing fate, much of Kazuya's actions towards changing his fate lack much impact.
*potential spoilers* Ah my god. This ending was so unfulfilling. Saying this ending was rushed would be an understatement. Basically, it resolves a ton of character problems in a few pages and then proceeds with a massive time skip to the rough time when Kazuya was killed in his previous life in this time line. Kazuya's final confrontation with Masaki is resolved in possibly one of the sloppiest ways I have seen in a manga. This ending just drops the ball when resolving the build up created by the chapters preceding it. Though this ending might be the result of the manga getting axed from the magazine it's in, the ending is still bad.
I'm quite salty about this...
*End of Possible Spoilers*
Ore ga doutei o sutetara shinu ken ni tsuite is a great Groundhog Day style manga because it focuses discovering the motives behind an uncharacteristic murder, but it bungles many important parts of story telling. I really enjoyed the story line of this manga because Kazuya had no idea why Masaki murdered him and so he must come up with his own hypothesis. What this did was it told me a little bit about Kazuya's way of thinking and after his first hypothesis is shot down, it's great to see Kazuya change his way of thinking as to adapt to this development. On the other hand, Kazuya's interactions with the other characters feel a tad off because the other characters barely get any screen time and so when Kazuya does something important for another character, the development feels hallow. I won't say much more about the ending because it's rushed, but it was simply bad and it sours what was great about this story. Ore ga doutei o sutetara shinu ken ni tsuite starts out great, but when it tries to warp up its story line, it falls flat on its face.
Ani-TAY says: Proceed With Caution
Pros: Interesting Mystery, Decent Character Development, Good Final Message
Cons: Lackluster Characters, Story Development Lacks Weight, Terrible Ending
Author: Morita Mario
Artist: Wakabayashi Yuusuke
Publisher: Holp Shuppan
Tay read: 22 chapters (complete)
US status: not published
All images were taken from Mangareader.net. I do not own any of these images.
You can read Ore ga doutei o sutetara shinu ken ni tsuite here.