“Even if you aren’t Daisy…I’ve already fallen for you.” – Teru Kurebayashi, Dengeki Daisy volume 2.
“I don’t really want to tease you. I actually want to hold you in my arms…I tried to run away many times. But I want you.” – Tasuku Kurosaki, Dengeki Daisy volume 6.
One of the manga series I’ve been really enjoying reading recently is Dengeki Daisy by Kyousuke Motomi. The series is about Teru Kurebayashi, who was left a cellphone by her older brother after he died that connects her to Daisy, a hacker whose identity remains unknown. When Tasuku Kurosaki, a deliquent janitor, shows up at Teru’s school one day he becomes Teru’s protector and is quickly revealed to be Daisy. At the heart of my enjoyment of this series is the relationship between Teru and Kurosaki. I don’t think I’ve ever fallen for a couple as quickly as I have in this series. There are couples I love because of their dynamics (such as the rapport between Akito and Sana in Kodocha, who argue and tease each other but are always there for one another), or I love the couple’s love story more than the couple itself (such as Naoki and Kotoko in Itazura na Kiss). Dengeki Daisy is one of the few series where I feel as though I love the couple for both reasons.
On the surface, Teru and Kurosaki as a couple remind me a little of Tsukushi and Tsukasa from Hana Yori Dango. Both couples bicker a lot – Teru always tells Kurosaki that she hopes he’ll go bald, while Kurosaki often makes remarks about her ‘puny A-cups.’ And at certain points in both series the main girl is hiding her feelings for the guy she loves. However, while Tsukushi’s refusal to admit her feelings for Tsukasa is a bit frustrating, I actually enjoy watching Teru struggle to hide her feelings for Kurosaki. I think a lot of this is because I love the setup of Teru and Kurosaki’s relationship: Teru knows Kurosaki is Daisy but doesn’t want him to know this, while Kurosaki is trying to resist his feelings for Teru because he is unwilling to forgive himself for a certain incident from the past (which I won’t reveal). Thus, their teasing dynamic is really just a pretense to cover up their hidden affections. But it’s more than just Teru and Kurosaki’s fun rapport or their unique situation that makes me like them as a couple. I really appreciated that Teru’s a bit brighter than the average shojo heroine because she figures out that Kurosaki is Daisy on her own pretty quickly – I expected that revelation to be dragged out a lot more. I also really love the use of inner monologues in the series – not that this is unique, it’s just that it’s great to see Kurosaki’s thought processes, because normally guys in shojo are left shrouded in mystery.
And, much like Tsukushi and Tsukasa, Teru and Kurosaki have great chemistry. I’m a fan of sexual tension in manga as long as it’s not too smutty or the only point of a series (cough cough Black Bird), and Dengeki Daisy hits those notes very well. Because Kurosaki and Teru’s relationship is one where they both have to repress their feelings, the tender scenes between them stand out. Little things like Kurosaki brushing his fingers through Teru’s hair, putting his face close to hers, or kissing her cheek when she’s asleep make it impossible not to root for the couple (and also get Kurosaki labeled a pervert by Riko, a woman who works with him). That’s probably a good thing, because one potentially troublesome aspect of the blooming romance between Teru and Kurosaki is the characters’ age difference. While Teru is 16, for awhile in the series it’s unclear just how old Kurosaki is – but it’s quite obvious that he’s at least a few years older than Teru considering he’s working at her school. I felt it was wise that Kyousuke Motomi held off on revealing Kurosaki’s age for several volumes, because by the time it was specified I had already fallen for Teru and Kurosaki’s vibe as a potential couple. And besides, Kurosaki’s teasing makes him seem more like a teenager anyway. If anything, I think it’s because Motomi knows how to tease her audience that Teru and Kurosaki are such a fun and workable couple, and I’m definitely looking forward to reading more.