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The Tragedy of Komi Naoshi

Komi Naoshi, as some may know, is the author of Nisekoi.  Yep, that harem manga and anime that somehow went on forever despite the fact that it was utterly boring.  Not the worst piece ever written, sure, but most certainly not something I'd ever reread.  I never actually finished it a first time because I'm not a fan of harem anime and it's a pretty stereotypical example of the genre.

However, believe it or not, this same author that has churned out tired school-life harem material has also written a number of works that are either genuinely moving, interesting, amusing, or some combination of those.  Unfortunately, not a single one has gotten its own full series.  This list that's about to follow consists of Komi Naoshi's other works, the ones that remain more or less obscured by Nisekoi's shadow.  Let's just start from the beginning...

Island was Komi's debute one-shot, written in 2007 and published in Akamaru Jump.  It's about a young girl and her friend who dream about leaving behind their walled community and venturing into the world beyond.  While it isn't exactly the newest idea for a plot, it is filled with a nostalgic sense of adventure and curiosity.  It is a timeless concept and can be related to any reader because at some point in our lives, we all feel trapped by our responsibilities and environments.  We all want an escape, to venture out and find something new, whether that's about ourselves or the world around us.

Personally, this may be one of my favorites when it comes to Komi's stories.  Everything from the art style to the concept just gives me a rush of nostalgia.  And despite that, it still comes off as refreshing, something different from the things I'm used to reading.

It's a charming piece, very much worth a read.  I definitely recommend looking it up. 

Koi no Kami-sama
Written in the same year as Island, Koi no Kami-sama was a completely different type of one-shot published in good ol' Shounen Jump.

We're all familiar with the female character type who is into shoujo manga and is in love with the idea of love.  We've also seen the stereotype of a male character who goes around confessing to virtually every girl who steps into view but fails pretty much every time.  Combine the two together, and you more or less get the protagonist of Koi no Kami-sama: a shoujo-manga otaku named Tsuchibe Taichi who will immediately confess to pretty much any girl he sees.

That's where the story starts.  New girl Kinokura Yasuko transfers in, instant confession from the protagonist.  Not exactly a new development either in manga.  But from there, Tsuchibe must declare war upon God himself in order to win the right to date Kinokura!

It's a fun one-shot were the main character encounters a lot of misfortunes on his road to get close to his crush.  I would recommend it for a bit of comedy.

Williams was the last of the one-shots written in 2007 and it was also released in Weekly Shounen Jump.

When you were a kid, did you ever read a story and wish for it to be real so badly that you would go out and search for proof?  That's exactly what William does in this story.  Stifled by his life as a young master, he strikes out to follow in the foot steps of Aradoff Hopkins, a master adventurer whose tales were told in a book titled "The Adventures of Aradoff."

A story about keeping belief alive and not giving up on your dreams, Williams makes us remember the wonder we felt for the world when we were younger.

In a time when the Earth is in danger, a new life form will develop in order to preserve it.  This is the idea introduced in Komi's first 2008 one-shot Apple (published in Young Magazine).

Aramiya Satoshi is the said new life form.  From his perspective, he's just a normal person who wants to live a quiet life.  But his days are interrupted by annoying visits by armies and groups who aim to subject him to research.  One day, an eccentric kid genius appears and befriends him.

 Now, while this one-shot was alright as a stand alone piece, I feel like it could've made for an interesting series.  With its short length, the focus remained mainly on the friendship that developed between Satoshi and Grimm (aforementioned eccentric kid genius).  However, I would've liked to have seen a bit more focus on the effects on Satoshi's life as an 'Apple'.  Still, I think that it's at least worth checking out.

Double Arts
Double Arts was Komi Naoshi's first series, released in 2008 in Shounen Jump.  I would honestly recommend this series for the expressions alone.  It had me laughing more than once at the utterly ridiculous facial expressions that the characters provided.

As befitting of a shounen series, this story utterly lacks logic with a disease that makes people disappear and can be transmitted and treated through a mere skin-to-skin contact.  The decisions made by the main character are also frustrating at many points.  However, the characters are endearing, and there's plenty of excitement to be had with assassins trying to kill Kiri and Elraine at every turn.

However, if you hadn't guessed, this series never saw a proper conclusion.  It was cancelled before its first year was even over.  And it was just starting to get interesting with the expansion of the villain organization.  There are many questions left behind when the series is concluded with its final chapter.  Komi provided a poetic ending that would've fit perfectly well with the series, except for all of the questions left unanswered.  There's nothing more frustrating to me than an incomplete story, so I was sad to find this series cut off too soon.

If anyone here has ever read Kurt Vonnegut's 1961 short story "Harrison Bergeron", then that's the easiest way to describe this story.  The setting is more or less the same, even if the tone is a lot more positive and light.  Considering my love for "Harrison Bergeron," I have a particular soft spot for this story.

For those who haven't read "Harrison Bergeron," first off, I highly recommend reading it; it's very good and very short.  Secondly, the short story and this one-shot are based in the distant future in which everyone is equal.  To achieve a total equality, people must wear masks among other identity and skill-obscuring devices.  But of course, the more 'sameness' is enforced, the more individuals will rise up to forcibly break the mold.

Personant was the last work released in 2008 (via Jump Square), and actually the last one in general until Nisekoi began in 2011.

Toki Doki
This oneshot is Komi Naoshi's most recent work, released in 2016 via Shounen Jump.  And honestly, it's probably my favorite.

It's a typical school romance, but with a tragic twist.  Imagine lifespans are dictated by the specific number of heartbeats that a person has (to be determined at birth).  People with "koku haku disease" have fewer heartbeats than the average person.  To make matters worse, their hearts aren't good at handling stress and tend to beat irregularly, shortening their lives even more.  Takagi Hatsu was inflicted with this disease, leaving her to sit out of activities and avoid excitement.  While this may extend her life by a small amount, it's not much of a way to live.  That's why Iijima Hato taught her to live her life to the fullest while she can.

There are a few errors perhaps in the panels, details missing or changed when it doesn't make much sense.  However, aside from that, I loved this story.  Admittedly, it nearly made me cry, and I'll tell you that that's a pretty rare occurrence.  If you haven't already, I definitely recommend reading this one.

With all of these far more engaging works that Komi Naoshi has written, it's tragic to me that Nisekoi is the only one that reached a proper ending after enjoying a long serialization.  To be fair, I actually found the Nisekoi one-shot to be really humorous.  But it didn't involve pointlessly long struggles to determine who the main character actually liked, either.  Ironically, I wish that it had stayed as a one-shot.  Nevertheless, I hope that this list introduces something of interest.  If you have a favorite, feel free to let me know.