The 2017 Ogami-san Can’t Keep It In, Volume 1, is the first tankōbon for Yu Yoshidamaru’s paranormal-romance comedy manga Oogami-san, Dadamore desu. It was serialized in Kodansha’s seinen manga magazine Monthly Afternoon from October 2016 to November 2019. The English translation is by Max Greenway.
Schoolgirl Ogami keeps her distance from her classmates, terrified that a slip of the tongue could reveal her dreadful secret. Ogami’s every waking moment is filled with intrusive, unwanted thoughts about es see ex. Surely, her classmates will loath and shun her if they knew what a giant pervert she was. Therefore she isolates herself.
Fellow student Yaginuma is also careful to keep his distance from his classmates. This is to protect them from his embarrassing gift. To touch Yaginuma’s bare skin is to uncontrollably blurt out one’s darkest secrets.
Of course, Ogami and Yaginuma’s paths cross.
[Obligatory “this is not the ecchi manga you may be expecting” notice]
The pair are assigned to clean a small gardening shed together. Yaginuma’s diligent attempts to avoid contact with Ogami are for naught. As she touches Yaginuma’s hand, Ogami is compelled to blurt out her current intrusive thought. She has discovered his secret, just as he has discovered hers.
Having loudly announced her desire to see the contents of Yaginuma’s trousers, the only righteous course of action is for Ogami to flee in abject embarrassment. Before she can escape, Yaginuma stops her to explain the situation is entirely his fault. Aware of his curse, he tries to be careful around other people but regrettably, sometimes he fails.
No sooner has the boy admitted to his peculiar talent than he inadvertently provides a meet-cute between classmates by accidentally compelling schoolboy Inui to involuntarily confess his crush on schoolgirl Uzaki. Ogami asserts that Yaginuma’s ability needs not be a curse, and that social isolation is bad for anyone. On this basis, the pair become each other’s best friend.
Enter Hikaru, a menacing behemoth recently moved from the country to the big city. His face alone inspires terror in those who see the young giant. A loner like Yaginuma and Ogami, he is fascinated by them. What dreadful fate awaits those on whom Hikaru’s gaze falls?
Is there a term for manga about painfully socially isolated characters learning to make friends? There are enough of them to count as a legitimate genre.
To repeat myself, aside from embarrassingly frank comments, nothing risqué happens in this manga. Ogami may be curious to the point of obsession about sex, but that doesn’t mean she wants to act on her impulses. The manga is curiously chaste.
My first thought on learning Yaginuma’s secret was that state security services would want to snap him up tout suite. He would be an invaluable asset to interrogations. Yet somehow, even though his gift isn’t unique or especially secret, no government functionaries swoop down on him. Failure of plausibility, yes, but then this is a feel-good manga.
Also feel-good: Hikaru turns out to be a painfully shy boy with a talent for sewing. His intimidating appearance is a false front. After he encounters Yaginuma, the secret is out … and he finds he can make friends.
In this manga there are no embarrassing moments that supportive conversations cannot fix, no arguments for which sincere apology is insufficient, no misunderstandings that frank discussion do not swiftly resolve1. There are no antagonists beyond imaginary people in student’s minds. Nobody is as unpopular as they think they are, only unapproachably aloof. Those are the main plotlines. It’s all relentlessly amiable and upbeat. I don’t know that “everything always works out” can sustain a long-term manga, but I suppose I will find out.
1: It remains to be seen if Yaginuma’s gift will render one reliable manga trope (the inability of the two romantic leads to admit they like each other) unusable. Ordinarily, this trope generates enough plot for endless volumes. I suspect that his gift is going to torpedo the trope. Yaginuma and Ogami will be dating within a dozen volumes. Hey, for manga that’s breakneck speed!