Odette is an android created by the young talented scientist Dr. Yoshizawa. Wanting to find the ultimate difference between humans and his android, Odette decides to persuade Dr. Yoshizawa to enroll her in a local high school. Follow Odette’s adventures as she ventures through high school, in search of the true meaning of being a human.
By Julietta Suzuki
Age Rating: Teen
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
When Karakuri Odette first came out, a lot of reviewers liked it, though to me it didn’t sound too interesting. I passed on it, as I had plenty of books to catch up on already and wasn’t looking for a new series to start. But with it becoming the subject of the January Manga Movable Feast, I checked out a copy of the first volume. I was pleasantly surprised to find I enjoyed it. While the whole “robot who wants to know what it’s like to be human” has been done over and over, this title makes it work with a charming story and a low-key lead that strikes just the right chord.
The volume starts with Odette wanting to go to school, to learn what the differences are between her and humans. At first, that is what she looks at and wants to change. She doesn’t eat food, but after seeing her schoolmates at school eat, she wants to as well. She wants her strength toned down to the same as a human’s, so she can participate in P.E. In a lot of ways, she is like a child. She sees someone doing something, and she wants to do that thing too. But she learns that being exactly like a human isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, when she and her first friend, Yoko, get stuck in a well. Odette can’t get them out with her human strength. After they are rescued, she chooses to have her android strength back.
This is what really makes this title work. Odette doesn’t want to become human, but she does want to know the things humans know, and experience the things they do. She doesn’t understand sadness when she sees Yoko crying, but she does experience it when she realizes she can’t help Yoko when she really needs it. At first, she wants to be like Asia, another android who seems to be able to be more expressive. But Asia doesn’t understand the emotions she is projecting. When she and Odette find Nero, the stray cat that lives near the school dead after being hit by a car, (Why is it always a @&#*’ing cat?!?!), Asia acts the same as when the cat was alive. Odette is disturbed by this, because she understands the loss, while Asia just continues to act as she was programmed to.
Even though she isn’t very expressive, Odette does seem to be developing emotions, and seems to even be able to inspire the same in others, both human and machine. An android is sent to kill Dr. Yoshizawa, who is out at a Christmas party, so he stays with Odette while waiting for Yoshizawa to return. As Odette plays with him, he appears to start to care for her, as he locks her in the cellar so she isn’t hurt when he explodes the bombs in him, and even that fails, as a “short circuit.” But it’s left open so the reader can believe it was his budding feelings for Odette that made him stop. Asao Kurose is a boy at Odette’s school who seems to get into fights a lot. Even though he says he doesn’t want to be Odette’s friend, something about her seems to get to him. He helps her when his friends keep her out late (even though she really doesn’t need it), and does eventually become her friend. Even though he knows she’s an android, he can recognize her true feelings, and responds to them.
The art is simple and clean. No one is too good-looking, and there isn’t a lot screen tone cluttering up the characters or panels.
Karakuri Odette has all the makings of a great series. It has a lead character that you quickly care about. Her friends are varied and genuine. The stories are enjoyable and show Odette’s emotional growth slowly and subtly, making it more believable. I’m glad I decided to read this series and will be looking for more volumes. It really deserves the praise it’s received.