Skip to main content

The Secret Notes of Lady Kanoko, Volume 1


The Secret Notes of Lady Kanoko, Volume 1

written and illustrated by Ririko Tsujita

The first volume of The Secret Notes of Lady Kanoko by Ririko Tsujita is an interesting shojo manga title that looks at younger teens from an almost anthropological angle. The manga follows the third-year middle schooler Kanoko Naedoko as she moves from school to school, "objectively observing" the other students. Her observations of the students are sharp, witty, and very reflective of the dramas of teenage lives.

The most appealing aspect of this work is that Kanoko's observations of teenage life are probing and accurate. Teens are shown in this manga as they truly are: emotional, cruel and easily transformed. This observation is done in a comedic way and does not seem to look down on the lives of these teenagers. Teens of all ages will surely relate to the problems and conflicts that Kanoko observes.

It is interesting that Kanoko seems to engage in objective observation in order to protect herself, trying to separate herself from the other students in order to stay safe from them. We see a flashback of an early betrayal by a friend of Kanoko's, providing a mere hint at a backstory. This is something that will hopefully be explored in later volumes.

The only people who seem to break through Kanoko's wall of isolation are three students at a middle school in the beginning of the volume: Tota Natsukusa, Momoka Hanai and Haru Tsubaki. These students, the three most attractive teens in the school, all are drawn to Kanako, getting her to open up and enjoy herself. Sadly, we find that in the second chapter Kanoko has moved to another middle school. This happens in every chapter, offering a new environment and new students for Kanoko to observe. This is helpful for Kanoko's observations, but frustrating for the reader who wants to see Kanoko interact with her three friends.

The reason for Kanoko's constant transferring of schools is a complete mystery; we do not know if her family moves for work, or if she gets kicked out of school, or if there is another reason. This constant moving causes the manga to be very episodic in feel, but since this shojo manga is first and foremost a comedy, the episodic tone seems to work for this first volume. It will be interesting to see if this is held up in later volumes.

The reader will be happy to know that there is at least one overarching plot line. Kanoko's friends from her first school do pop back in once in a while, particularly Haru Tsubaki, who seems to have feelings for Kanoko. In the last chapter of the volume we find Kanoko visiting these friends, leaving the reader hoping that we will get to see these characters again in later volumes.

The pace of The Secret Notes of Lady Kanoko is quick and light, and the artwork reflects both the comedy of the work and the emotions of the teens that it observes. This manga is recommended for middle and high school students; the observations made of teen life will make the work appealing and relevant for teens.

Reviewed by Kyla Hunt on December 28, 2010

The Secret Notes of Lady Kanoko, Volume 1
written and illustrated by Ririko Tsujita

  • Publication Date: December 28, 2010
  • Genres: Manga
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: TokyoPop
  • ISBN-10: 1427820112
  • ISBN-13: 9781427820112