Zero Count (ゼロカウント)
By: Hiromu Mutou
Zero Count is a shoujo manga about a girl, Nao Tokieda, who learns that she is in an arranged marriage. She transfers to Kaei Academy in order to cancel the engagement. Apparently, her father agreed for an arranged marriage with the son of his old friend in exchange for some loans that will salvage his company. Nao is given five clues about who her fiance is. As readers, we follow Nao on a mission: to solve the mystery of who her fiance is and to stop the engagement.
Although this is primarily a romantic comedy, there is a subtle message in this manga: a child’s life shouldn’t be completely dictated by his or her parents. Our parents can guide us to the right path and give advice about certain situations we come across, but they shouldn’t have control over our lives. As kids grow older and become adults, they should be able to make their own decisions in regards to future careers and potential lovers. Nao’s refusal to the arranged marriage shows her desire to be able to freely choose the man she will love. Another example involves the second year student, Kyouichi Shirakawa. He has difficulty communicating with his father. However with the help of Nao, Kyouichi is able to tell his father upfront that he wants to become a doctor.
Right away, readers are introduced to a mystery plot line. Who is Nao’s fiance? We are told the five clues, and like Nao, we too, are now investigators trying to solve the mystery. I won’t go into further details about the clues and the mystery storyline, but as a reader it was a fun trying to solve it. I kind of wished that this manga was longer than twelve chapters because with the mystery concept, there could be more plot twists and character development in regards to all the men Nao meets.
In addition, I felt that the ending was a little abrupt and anticlimactic. Yet overall, Zero Count, is a fun read when you are bored. 🙂