Mangaka: Satsuki Yoshino
Status: Complete (7 volumes)
My rating: 4 of 5
Misunderstandings abound as Sei Handa weathers through his high school days. You see, Handa-kun (with a little help from his best friend Kawafuji) has managed to convince himself that all the other students at his school hate him–to the point that he misinterprets innocuous, or even positive, interactions in a negative light. Not that he interacts much with anyone at school, since he’s even told Kawafuji not to talk to him, for fear that the hatred will spread to him too! Not that there actually is any hatred at all. Rather, Handa is the most popular student at the school. His reputation as an up and coming calligrapher, combined with his good looks and mysterious aura, have gained him a following of admirers that grows until it extends even to other schools in the area! Not that poor Handa-kun has a clue. And of course, no one dares to actually approach to speak with him and break his misapprehensions.
Handa-kun is a delightfully amusing spinoff of the charming series Barakamon by the same creator. There are some things–like the lovely art style–that carry over from this series. But this is a 6-years-earlier spinoff, and Yoshino makes a strong distinction between the two, so don’t expect Barakamon 2.0 here. Rather, Handa-kun is a lighthearted gag manga, full of tropes, puns, and goofiness of all sorts. It’s charming, but in its own unique way. It’s a slice-of-life school story, with a more shounen style rather than the seinen feel of Barakamon. And it’s really just so completely over-the-top improbable; a lot of the humor actually comes directly from that fact. So yes, it is an interesting look into Sei Handa’s backstory, but it’s kind of fantastic too. Charming and funny, though. I would recommend Handa-kun if you’re interested in comedic school stories, whether you’ve read Barakamon or not.
AO3 ID: 7568518
Status: Complete (10 Chapters)
My rating: 4 of 5
Rated T – some language and slight innuendo
During a random conversation between Ladybug and Chat Noir (while she’s teasing him about his goofy pick-up lines and flirting), Chat brings up the fact that in most relationships, guys do most of the work and it would be nice for girls to initiate sometimes. Not that she immediately agrees, but the conversation does get Marinette thinking–everything she’s tried to get close to Adrien so far hasn’t worked, so it’s worth a try, right? She starts off covering for a trip by saying she’s “falling for him,” and it goes on from there, Marinette pushing past her awkwardness to deliver smooth pick-up lines, and Adrien puddling into a blushing, stammering mess. And when Chat comes to Ladybug complaining about this girl in his class who’s flirting with him, leading her to discovering his true identity, well, things get even worse. After all, turnabout is fair play, considering all the awkward flirting he’s put her through!
My, but Pick-Up and Chase made me laugh. It’s cute and funny, almost bordering on crackish but not quite crossing the line. The banter between Ladybug and Chat Noir is spot on. Love the characterizations here just in general; they’re quite well written. And seeing the role-reversal when Marinette takes the initiative and messes with Adrien’s head is pretty amusing–especially when you add Alya and Nino’s reactions into the mix. We get some cute Ladrien vibes here, too, made all the more amusing since to the outside observer Marinette and Ladybug are competing for Adrien’s affections. Basically, this is just a really cute, funny, and oddly romantic story that I enjoyed a lot. Warnings for bad puns and pick-up lines.
Note: You can find Pick-Up and Chase at https://archiveofourown.org/works/7568518/chapters/17218156.
AO3 ID: 8255729
Status: Complete (10 Chapters)
My rating: 5 of 5
Poor Alya! She’s so utterly committed to her work writing the Ladyblog, but the fact is she just doesn’t always get her facts right . . . and who better to set her straight than the two superheroes to whom the blog is dedicated, Ladybug and Chat Noir? Only, instead of coming right out and correcting the Ladyblogger, these two troublemakers create ambiguously-named Ladyblog accounts and begin commenting on Alya’s posts. They maybe go a little crazy, actually. Hijinks ensue, and more is revealed about these two trolls than either of them originally intended.
The Ladyblog Comment Section was such a fun and amusing fanfic to read! As in, I seriously wouldn’t recommend reading it in public if you want to avoid embarrassing yourself by laughing aloud while reading. The whole premise of this fic is borderline crackish, and yet, considering the characters, it’s also just believable. As such, it manages to walk that fine line between the possible and the absurd that makes it absolutely hilarious. I love the way the body of each chapter is split with part of it being actual excerpts from the Ladyblog comments section–complete with Bugaboo and MrWhiskers flirting, trolling, and playing tic-tac-toe–and the other part being real-life character interactions–mostly Alya bemoaning her troubles and Marinette and Adrien trying to hide their involvement. Very funny, all of it. This is a reveal fic, and I love the way the author handles that . . . because Nino is way smarter and pays more attention than he often gets credit for. I do have to warn that if text abbreviations, terrible spelling, and emoticons bother you, you may find parts of this story annoying; the author does a great job of making the comment section realistic in that regard. But seriously, if you’re interested in a funny (punny?), cute ML fanfic, The Ladyblog Comment Section is a fantastic choice that I would highly recommend.
NOTE: You can find The Ladyblog Comment Section at https://archiveofourown.org/works/8255729/chapters/18916784.
AO3 ID: 5386433/FanFiction ID: 11644460
Status: Complete (7 Chapters)
My rating: 4.5 of 5
Talk about good luck! Marinette draws Adrien’s name for their class’s Secret Santa exchange, giving her the perfect opportunity to give him the handmade coat she’s been designing just for him–with no excuse to back out in stammering embarrassment. Little does she know that he’s drawn her name and is putting a lot of thought into getting the perfect, thoughtful gift for her too. Gifts exchanged lead to more conversation, plans to hang out, and Marinette’s realization that for all the glamour of Adrien’s rich-kid/model life, he’s actually pretty lonely, especially when his other friends leave town for the holidays. Marinette’s not about to have that, so she pushes her (huge) crush on him down and determines to give him the happy family holiday he’s never had.
I know, I know, this is totally out of season, but this adorable story was too utterly sweet to not post about, regardless of the season. TheLastPilot is probably one of my absolute favorite Miraculous Ladybug fanfic writers because the tone is spot on (pun only slightly intended), the plots are thoughtful and well-planned, and the characters are the best, most enjoyable versions of themselves. Secret Santa is a great example of just that. It’s mostly this sweet (like, watch out for cavities, seriously), adorable friendship-to-maybe-more fluffy story with a big emphasis on the friendship. Marinette and Adrien’s awkward but growing friendship is really fun to read, especially with the way they esteem each other’s alter-ego without knowing their true identity woven into their interactions. And yeah, we do get a great reveal eventually. But there’s a lot of these two just being teenagers, too–shopping, playing video games, hanging out with Marinette’s parents (who are also awesome)–and that is lots of fun. The sense of humor that pervades this story is just perfect, balanced with just enough angst (mostly stemming from the notorious Gabriel Agreste) to balance it out and make the happy parts all the sweeter. Secret Santa is definitely recommended, regardless of the season.
NOTE: You can find Secret Santa at https://archiveofourown.org/works/5386433/chapters/12440687 or at https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11644460/1/Secret-Santa.