Title: Minami Nanami Wants to Shine Vol. 1
Author: Yuki Yaku
Release Date: March 22, 2022
Publisher: Yen Press
There’s always diversity in every friend group, but Minami Nanami Wants to Shine tells us that each person can be separated into two groups, those who can’t shine on their own and those who shine so brightly they draw everyone to them. Of course, it’s a strange concept for a spin-off manga featuring Minami Nanami of Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki. Still, it lays out a foundation for a character trying to find their place in life.
Minami Nanami Wants to Shine Vol. 1 introduces us to Nanami, a likable character with friends and an eagerness to follow the pack. She doesn’t think she stands out, but she usually gets through her days with a smile. However, some emotions such as jealousy and envy weigh on her as she struggles to find her place. This changes when her mom asks her to be a model for her agency since they don’t have a huge budget and want an up-and-comer to model the product.
It’s rather flimsy on paper, but the concept of someone in unfamiliar territory is a returning theme. Nanami doesn’t scream protagonist material, and I found that’s what works for this premise. She doesn’t stand out, and she isn’t particularly exciting in her daily life. The idea is that we follow her on her journey to discover her light, but there’s very little to hold onto here. Don’t get me wrong, she’s adorable during her interactions with classmates and navigating some issues, but she’s pretty boring.
Given that this is the first volume, I feel like there should have been more on the line for this story to demand the reader continue to Volume 2. However, I felt like if I didn’t already know these characters from the source material, I wouldn’t care too much to continue Nanami’s story. That aside, the prospect of seeing her glow is on the horizon, which makes me excited to see how she takes on this new responsibility and transforms into a proper lead.
Minami Nanami Wants to Shine Vol. 1 really sells the themes introduced by Bottom-Tier Character Tomozaki. But, again, we have a dull character who finds their place after a few fate-driven interactions occur. We love the otaku angle, though, and are left with the premise of how a girl who doesn’t fit into her world navigates life. In that aspect, this could be an exciting read, or it could fall flat by Volume 2.
The character designs from Fly are charming and dream-like in some panels. I just really enjoy how Nanami fantasizes about her reflection, but then there are the harsh and bold strokes of the panels where she’s feeling envious or deep in thought. There are some deep emotions here, but plenty of light-hearted interactions make them less impactful.
Minami Nanami Wants to Shine Vol. 1 is a decent foundation to establish this story about a supporting cast member who gets the spotlight. It’s something that many stories don’t take a chance on because, well, because supporting characters can be boring. However, this is a story to break that trend, and we get the opportunity to see Nanami shine her brightest.
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