By: Kou Matsuzuki
Publication Date: December 2009
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: January 30, 2010
Uru is a sixteen-year-old girl who has recently moved into her own apartment. She wants to prove to her parents that she can be independent and so young Uru begins to look for a job. She stumbles upon the Café Bonheur and is quickly hired.
Uru's two co-workers are Shindo, a 20-year-old, rather sullen young man who has trouble smiling, and Ichiro, who is friendly but is unable to stay awake when he's hungry. Feed the young man and he comes back to life. It's a quirky work environment, but spunky Uru is determined to do well at her new job.
Shindo is frequently annoyed at Uru because of her aptitude for breaking things. Yet he puts up with her and every once in a while, Uru sees a glimmer of kindness from Shindo. For example, when Uru starts to study for her school exams, she becomes quite distracted at work. In frustration (or perhaps kindness), Shindo helps Uru study.
Happy Café is the first in a planned series of Manga-style books by first time comic book author Kou Matsuzuki. There is no deep plot, it is really an introduction to the characters so the reader can get to know them and all the little quirks that each exhibit. We see Shindo, with the gruff exterior, slowly let down his defenses ("…he's actually a teddy bear!" notes Uru). There is also a hint at a possible budding romance between Uru and Shindo.
Happy Café also teaches some important life lessons to teens. When a new character, Mitsuka, a gorgeous model, comes into the Café, Uru is immediately struck by her beauty. Convinced that the model has everything a young person could possibly want in life (beauty, popularity, money), Uru is stunned to find that there is a sadness to Mitsuka because of the way her parents are using her fame to advance their social standing.
Quill says: Happy Café is a nice introduction to a promising new series for young magna fans.