Koban by Ishikawa Chika

Koban

Koban is a simple, yet very entertaining series by Ishikawa Chika. I was first drawn to her eye-catching art style and boldly colored covers, but stayed for the fun and endearing characters. She might be my favorite new (to me) mangaka of this past year. So I’m going to introduce you (the whole three of you who might actually care about this type of manga, ha) to the police comedy, Koban.

Koban follows the exploits of two officers who man a small police branch. These branches are referred to as kouban (hence the title). They are not fully staffed police stations, but function like a satellite outpost within the community. Their duties involve contact with the locals, such as giving directions, taking reports, and responding to emergencies.

Takeda is the senior officer and a police sergeant. He’s incredibly smart and capable. His talents have lead him down an unprecedented, short path to promotion, but that’s not the only short thing…

Takeda is notoriously short, especially next to his very large partner.

Takeda is very serious, but has a bit of a difficult personality due to his insecurities. He’s quick to anger, but everyone is more than willing to push him there. Constantly. He could be labeled tsundere, but the “dere” is well hidden. Takeda is not good with children and they don’t take him seriously either. However, he’s (not so) secretly the person who wears the police mascot costume, Hiipo.

Mention Takeda’s Hiipo role to his face and you’ll likely get a gun drawn on you.

Sennami is Takeda’s inexperienced partner. Sennami is Takeda’s opposite, both physically and mentally. Sennami is warm, friendly, and 192 cm (6’3″) tall. However, he performed awfully on his examinations and is generally goofy and gangling.

This is Sennami’s brain while he attempts to give directions.

Sennami isn’t completely useless at his job (only 95% of the time. 99.9% if you ask Takeda). He has a few moments of insight. Children like Sennami and he communicates well with foreigners. He has no foreign language ability, but uses his police training to read people and figure out what they want. He must have paid attention at some point during his training! This earns him some grudging respect from Takeda… at least until Sennami literally overlooks him again and needs disciplined.

Takeda and Sennami are basically an odd couple who are always at odds due to their differences in personality and height.

This illustration is a good summary of their differences.

Sennami is not very sensitive and teases Takeda, who is quick to push back. In the afterword, Ishikawa jokes that her mother doesn’t like Takeda and thinks he’s a bully who can’t take a joke. Well, as a fellow shorty, I love him at least!

Ishikawa’s humor is silly and simple, but skillfully delivered. It works well for me: it’s very visual and doesn’t rely on word puns that are often lost on me since I’m not fluent by any means.

Their height difference is most of the humor, yet I’m still amused.

If you’re interested in reading Koban, here’s all the information you need.

Koban was first published in Jump SQ and the original tankoub0n is out of print (far left). However, all contents are included in the recent release of volume #0 (middle), along with a short chapter from a previously published doujinshi. In addition, Koban #0 has furigana while the original does not. The new serialization starts with #1 (right) and is currently publishing in Spica. The story is episodic, so you could read these out of order and still follow along. All tankoubon are the large A5 size and have very vivid covers.

Overall, Koban is a very fun, light story with lively characters. It’s simply adorable and makes me laugh. I look forward to the next volume and am very excited about having a new mangaka to stalk follow.

11 responses to “Koban by Ishikawa Chika

  1. This looks slashable, so I’m sure that more than 3 people will be interested in it.

  2. I got familiar with her through metro and looks pretty similar to it accept that setting is different. Definitely up my ally😀

    • If you like metro, you’ll love this! I admittedly like Koban more because the manga is all about their amusing banter. The metro boys are more distant/still warming up to each other (maybe? ha) and it’s focused more on the whole train station setting. They certainly have odder personalities!

  3. Omg my potential purchase. Looks very amusing, thanks for all the info!))

  4. Pingback: Favorite Manga Purchases from 2012 | the manga habit

  5. Hi. I just discovered this fairy land through Hatsumimi’s site. If you’re not fluent, how do you understand everything in all the manga you buy? I’d love to buy manga like you do. But I don’t understand the language, and as much as I love manga, I can’t bear to spend money on something that i’ll set aside after reading once. How did you make the decision?

    • Welcome! I’m not fluent, but I have enough understanding to know what’s going on. I certainly fare better when there’s furigana to help me with the kanji reading (I’m quite rusty and only know so many by heart). I tend to favor those manga when I’m feeling lazy (which is like.. always). Even without it, you can do pretty well by understanding a portion of it and getting the rest from context with some base knowledge of Japanese. I was always really good at those exercises in English classes and now it comes in handy with hobbies I guess.

      Many of these I don’t pick up just once, but flip through many times. Even then, if I get a few hours of enjoyment out of reading them, I’m cool with that. It’s no more expensive than going to the movies or eating out or many other activities, so I see it as just another category for entertainment expenses. Also, without this manga hobby or my occasional visual novel plays, I would have completely lost my Japanese knowledge by now. That would be a shame. Lastly, I just enjoy having the books! They’re fun to look at and play with and to write about on the internet. It’s all about what it’s worth to the individual and what they get out of it.

  6. Hullo!
    Thanks for the lovely review, made me want to pick it up just on the strength of that. A tiny question though since #1 seems to be strangely sold out…

    #0 and #1 have entirely different contents right?? A little confused because the websites I looked at place #0 as having been released later…

    • Hey! Thanks, I’m glad you’re interested in it. I find her stuff very amusing.

      Yes, the contents of volume 1 and 0 are different. Volume 1 is new serialization material from Spica. When they released that, they decided to re-release the original Koban material, which they put into volume 0. So those printing dates are slightly off. Koban originally ran in a different magazine/had a different publisher (the book pictured on the far left is identical in content to volume 0, minus furigana). Volume 1 probably just needs another printing. Hopefully they’ll do that soon. Since Koban is still publishing, they’d have to at some point since Volume 2 will come out.

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