Shoujo Manga Maniacs: Shiawase Kissa Sanchoume
By: Meg Humphrey
I read all 13 volumes of this manga during the 10 days leading up to my birthday. I finished the last two in the early morning of October 6th and my boyfriend woke up wondering why I was already in tears. What. a good. manga.
Shiawase Kissa Sanchoume (I will now refer to it as ShiaKissa) translates basically into “3rd Steet Happiness Cafe.” Tokyo Pop released the first seven volumes in English between 2009 and 2011 under the name Happy Cafe, but never finished publishing the series. It is written and illustrated by Kou Matsuzuki. ShiaKissa stars a high school girl, Uru, who has recently moved out from home in order to give her mom and her new step-dad more time alone. She applies for a part time job at the bakery Cafe Bonheur, which is ran by two handsome weirdos: Shindou and Ichirou. Shindou is the chronically grumpy looking baker with no sense of humor and Ichirou is an apathetic narcoleptic that can only be awoken when someone puts food in his mouth. Not exactly the best customer service, but that’s where Uru comes in handy!
I can’t lie – this is one of the girliest comics I’ve read, but what I love most about it is that romance takes a back seat to themes like friendship, family, and self worth. Yes, there are confessions, one sided loves, and multiple guys gunning for the same lady, but that’s really not what’s most important (until the last chapter). If you’ve read Fruit’s Basket, Uru is similar to Tohru. Uru is by no means perfect – she’s extremely short, possess immense physical strength she can’t always control, is clumsy, nosey, and impulsive. But she makes up for her flaws in her beautiful soul. She puts others’ needs in front of her own and she strives to make people see the value in themselves (but often overlooks her own worth). She’s endearing, encouraging, and understanding. Uru brings happiness into the hearts of even the most stubborn people. The series is more about loving others than about being romantically “in love.”
Although the story is ultimately about Uru, the characters that surround her are fully fleshed out and have storylines and growth of their own. This manga gives me a lot of dad feelings (which are some of my favorite feelings). Almost every young character’s father has profound influence on their children, but not always in the way you’d think. I especially love the relationship between Shindou and his foster father, and bakery manager, Nankichi. The manga has many different families and different familial relationships – proving that there’s no such thing as a perfect one.
If you’re into funny, heartwarming tales of family and friendship, Shiawase Kissa Sanchoume is one you shouldn’t pass up! Pick up the first seven volumes from Tokyo Pop, but you can also find the full series scanlated online.