Anne Happy’s sublime hijinks involving a trio of adorably unfortunate girls made a refreshing debut in the first two volumes. Following the madness of the earlier issues, Anne and friends continue to make a splash—literally—with a swimming lesson gone awry.
When a rival teacher at Tennomifune Academy challenges the curriculum of class 1-7, aka the “Happiness Class,” the girls find themselves in competition with the high school’s elite Athletics Class during their physical education period. Of course, misfortune follows, leading Hibari and Botan on a hair-raising rescue mission when Anne’s swimsuit gets caught in an air jet as a thunderstorm rolls in overhead. While this episode seems on a par with the rest of the series, we are reminded that Tennomifune does, in fact, have other programs aside from the Happiness Class. Hilariously, while the other students might scorn their unfortunate peers, the ladies of the Athletics program are not immune to the charms of Ren, Anne’s lazy classmate who obliviously attracts the interest of females, human and animal alike.
When Anne and Botan have a sleepover at Hibari’s, we are treated to an inside look at her lonely lifestyle. She fears the girls will tease her for her frilly pajamas, but they are much more accepting than she had imagined. Later, Botan invites Anne and Hibari to a private indoor beach that her sister commissioned so that Botan could enjoy the atmosphere without worrying about her ailments, such as her fair complexion coming into contact with actual sunlight. The fourth issue sees the class at a summer camp program which requires the girls to carve objects out of wood, and join together in an intense game of tag. Our main trio are teamed up with Ren and her childhood friend Hibiki, whose terrible sense of direction and obsessive crush on Ren constantly puts her at odds with those around her. We also meet Timothy Rabbit, an A.I. avatar that aids their teacher in her crazy Happiness Lessons.
These volumes do not simply continue the narrative laid by the first two, but subtly begin to propel the story forward. Interspersed between competitions—which see the girls once again dressed in elaborate costumes—are anecdotes hinting that graduating members of the Happiness Class might one day gain an advantage over others enrolled in Tennomifune’s more mainstream concentrations. Notably, the idea of “Happiness” vs. “Luck” is curious. Sure, Hibari and the self-deprecating Botan behave in a way that could be considered “unhappy,” but Anne herself is a bundle of joy wrapped in a cloud of rotten luck. The terms are used interchangeably, but this is unlikely to cause anyone to dismiss the series.
The artist continues to utilize interesting angles and richly shaded backgrounds, while each girl has a very unique look. Ren has an androgynous draw that challenges Sailor Uranus herself. Hibiki’s short wavy bob and scornful gaze neatly counters willowy Botan’s soft, bespectacled features. All background characters appear as faceless silhouettes. Several frames focus on characters’ cleavage, and the habit of placing the girls in crazy costumes could be read as fetishizing, though the level of detail in each outfit is so well rendered, it’s more likely that readers will take the time to examine every ruffle than be bothered by it. There is also an onsen (hot springs) scene towards the end.
As the fourth volume closes, the story promises higher stakes and further character growth, and of course, more wackiness to come. Young adult librarians should plan to make plenty of room on their shelves for future books in this series.
Anne Happy, vols. 3-4
Vol. 3 ISBN: 9780316317856
Vol. 4 ISBN: 9780316317887
Yen Press, 2017
Publisher Age Rating: Teen (13+)