A relative unknown in the manga world, Nami Sato makes her debut both in English and Japanese with the bizarre charm of Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto (Sakamoto desu ga?). Its publication started in 2012 for Fellows! and later harta magazine. The series has met with some acclaim, winning the 2013 Comic Natalie grand prize and topped the male oriented comic Book of the Year list for Da Vinci magazine in 2013. Seven Seas Entertainment provides the English language version with Toradora and Seraph of the End (Owari no Serafu) translator Adrienne Beck assisted by Janet Gilbert on the adaptation.
As one would imagine from its title, Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto details the ins and outs of Sakamoto, as he struggles with the burdens of life in his first year of high school. When bullies try to douse the fires of his popularity he’s ready with an umbrella. When a wasp creates havoc in the classroom, Sakamoto’s prepared for a duel with protractor in hand. And how does he deal with the affections of a female classmate? Demonic possession, of course. No matter what challenge comes his way, Sakamoto takes them all on with a poise and determination that crosses straight into the realm of absurdity.
The off the wall bizarre humor that Sato brings to the page in Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto hearkens to other absurdist manga such as Eiji Nonaka’s Cromartie High School (Sakigake!! Kuromati Koukou) with the way that Sakamoto plays as a straight man to the increasingly unbelievable circumstances of his daily life. Each chapter leaves you wondering just what sort of strange circumstances he’ll find himself in and pondering at the equally bizarre Macgyver-like solution he’ll find to get himself out. For a series that relies heavily on wordplay and a specific flavor of Japanese parody, Beck’s work as a translator isn’t to be discounted in the English adaptation. Though there are a few rough spots, the majority of the volume presents puns and punchlines in a voice that reads as true to the original work.
For any fans of Cromartie, or for those who feel the need for something a little more weird in their lives, Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto is the perfect fit. It’s sometimes gritty, sometimes witty, and guaranteed to leave you wondering just who the hell is this Sakamoto guy?