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So Happy

Takopi’s Original Sin, volume 1

By Taizan5 

20 Dec, 2023



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Takopi’s Original Sin, Volume One is the first of two tankōbon collecting Taizan5’s science-fiction tragedy. Takopi’s Original Sin was serialized on Shueisha’s web platform Shōnen Jump+ from December 2021 to March 2022. The English translation was published in 2023.

Nnu-Anu-Kf is an alien from the Happy Planet. Unable to return home for reasons never clearly explained, the octopus-like alien travels to Earth equipped with an annoying verbal tic and a bevy of useful gadgets. His mission: make people happy.

Results fall somewhat short of his goal.

Content warning: this is a sad, upsetting manga.

Nine-year-old Shizuka is relentlessly bullied by schoolmate Marina. When verbal abuse does not suffice, Marina is happy to beat her designated victim. No adult takes note of Marina’s campaign of terror. Shizuka’s only comfort is her dog, Chappy.

The alien meets and befriends Shizuka (who calls the alien Takopi because she cannot pronounce his real name). Takopi can sense that Shizuka is unhappy — the fact that she never, ever smiles is a clue — but because the Happy Planet lacks Earth’s vices, he has no concept of such things as bullying.

Takopi begins to grasp that his comprehension is flawed soon after Marina provokes Chappy into biting her. Chappy is be confiscated and euthanized. The alien, uncomprehending, offers Shizuka one of his useful gadgets to help cement Shizuka and Marina’s friendship. Shizuka uses it to hang herself.

Dissatisfied with this outcome, the alien uses his special camera to travel back in time to the moment he took Shizuka’s picture. Surely, all the alien needs to do is change things just a bit so that Chappy will live, Shizuka will live, she and Marina will be friends, and everyone will be happy. Shizuka will finally smile.

Over one hundred attempts to rewrite history later, Takopi begins to suspect that its grasp of the situation may be flawed. The sticking point is Marina, who always finds a way to provoke Chappy into biting her. Takopi always assumes the best of people. When he is confronted by the worst, his plans can only fail.

Takopi solves the Marina problem by bludgeoning her to death with his camera. Although the alien did not intend to kill Marina, this does end her campaign of terror. Perhaps this unorthodox solution will let Shizuki be happy. Perhaps the girl won’t be arrested for murder.

The marvelous camera was destroyed when Takopi hit Marina with it. However the complications play out, there will be no do-overs.


Huh. Another time-travel story. Too many of those of late. Am I cursed?

Something I noticed as a child: I was given a book of Japanese fairy tales and saw that children in Japanese stories do not enjoy the plot-immunity that North American children do in North American narratives. If Old Yeller had been written by a Japanese author, Travis and his whole family might have caught rabies from Old Yeller. Approach this manga with the appropriate expectations.

The hazard of misplaced expectations is a running theme in the manga. Approaching as it does every terrestrial situation from the perspective of a person from a planet seemingly lacking all of Earth’s flaws, Takopi cannot understand what’s going on. All of its deliberate solutions are doomed to fail for reasons beyond its comprehension … indeed, beyond the comprehension of any person from the Happy Planet.

Marina may sound to readers like a complete monster. As it happens, the reader sees enough of her homelife to understand why she bullies. That’s an explanation, not an excuse. Marina sounds monstrous because she is.

Amazon labels this manga as dystopian. The alien aside, the setting of this manga is entirely commonplace. Kids bully other kids and adults ignore or facilitate it. If the manga is dystopian, then so is modern society.

The disturbing art suits the distressing story well. While nobody will emerge happier from reading this, the effect appears to be exactly what the author intended. I find myself curious about Volume 2. Will things get better for Shizuki? It would be nice to think so, but that does not seem to be the way to bet.

Takopi’s Origin Sin, Volume One is available1 here (Amazon US), here (Amazon Canada), here (Amazon UK), here (Barnes & Noble), and here (Chapters-Indigo). I did not find it at Apple Books.

1: Available for pre-order, that is. It’s good thing that this volume won’t be available for Christmas giving; perhaps parents and grandparents wouldn’t look closely at gift comics and the kids would be irrevocably scarred.