Smile! Sotamura-sanSotomura is a high-school girl who is feared as a delinquent and avoided by most students. From her light-brown hair down to her long skirt and harsh manner of speaking, she completely seems the part.But after Sotomura rescues a girl named Haruno from some bullies, Haruno decides to try to get to know her better. Haruno is surprised to find out that Sotomura isn't a delinquent at all and is, in fact, just a very socially awkward girl that's bad with words but wants to make friends. She enjoys cooking, handicrafts, and hitting the supermarket sales. Sotomura also loves cute and fancy things, but she hides these girly traits because she feels they don't suit how she looks.Haruno's first step in helping Sotomura is to try to teach her how to smile, because whenever she tries, it ends up as a scary grin. Thus begins the story of Sotomura's attempts to make new friends.A Yonkoma slice of life manga filled with hilarious hijinks.
This manga contains examples of:
A-Cup Angst: Her classmates are convinced she binds her breasts. Oh how she wishes this were true. She experiences this when she shares a public bath with Haruno.
Always in Class One: Averted. Sotomura and Haruno are in separate classes, so no one in Sotomura's class gets to see how normal she acts with her only friend.
Big Sister Bully: Sotomura's little brother's friends are convinced she bullies him. She adores him, and all those things she "forces" him to do, he in fact does voluntarily, because he adores her in return.
Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Sotomura-san's workmate Hina. She acts cordial and easygoing, but is actually evil, vain, and manipulative on the inside. However, Sotomura-san doesn't notice and takes her actions as being sincere and helpful.
Cannot Tell a Joke: When Sotomura tries to tell a joke, people think she's serious and get scared of her.
Can't Get Away With Nothing: Sotomura's classmates interpret everything she says and does as "proof" of her delinquency. That subtly threatening phone call? She was just asking her little brother to tape her favorite anime. Those scrapes, scratches and Clothing Damage that "prove" her fighting prowess? She got them rescuing a kitten from a tree.
Cassandra Truth: Assertions that Sotomura is really a nice person often fall on deaf ears, since the listeners are usually convinced that the speaker is being threatened.
Chick Magnet: Sotomura-san's brother, at least as far as the three yankee girls are concerned.
Clingy Jealous Girl: As much as she tries to help Sotomura, Haruno feels sad whenever Sotomura begins to succeed in gaining new friends.
Cool Big Sis: Sotomura's brother certainly thinks Sotomura is this. Yukari also addresses Sotomura as this, though with a word that's yakuza slang for "Boss".
Cry Cute: Sotomura sometimes bickers with her mother and always treats her more like her daughter than her mother, but when her mom leaves on business, which she apparently does a lot, Sotomura breaks down crying.
Don't Tell Daughter: Sotomura's mother wants to keep her past as a delinquent a secret. Vice versa Sotomura doesn't want her mother to know everyone thinks she's a delinquent.
Dogged Nice Guy: Mikumo, though he can't actually tell if what he's feeling is love or terror.
Evil Laugh: Sotomura is melancholy over her lack of friends, and her forced laughs are just as disturbing as her forced smiles.
Exact Words: In the volume 2 omake (at the end of chapter 35.5), Haruno gave Sotomura a uniform with a short skirt and got her to promise not to lengthen it. She lengthened the shirt.
Face of a Thug: Sotomura is feared by all, primarily because she can't seem to smile without somehow looking like she's about to shank you. The plethora of misunderstandings that follow her around don't help, either.
Her hair is (naturally) brown, she wears her uniform skirt long (because she's extremely self-conscious about her height) and refuses to wear the bow (because she thinks it draws attention to her flat chest). All are considered delinquent fashion statements.
The Faceless: Sotomura's father, even in the chapter where he interacts with her. His first current time appearance is standing behind a banner with her name on it. Averted in the flashback chapter 67.5, which focused on Sotomura's mother's meeting with him during their earlier years.
Failure Is the Only Option: All of Sotomura-san's attempts to make friends backfire, in large part because she's so socially awkward and bad with words she keeps unintentionally reinforcing her delinquent image. In contrast, Himeki's attempts at delinquency and imperfection never work (even when failing tests deliberately).
The first is Himeki; who is treated as a saint, despite wanting to be a delinquent. Though it doesn't help that deep down, she is a saint.
The second is Hina; who is seen as a sweet and kind girl, but on the inside is evil. Ironically, because of her inner nature she knows the real Sotomura and is unafraid of her, making her practically Sotomura's friend.
Friend to All Living Things: Sotomura-san is late to school several times and arrives dirty due to her various animal and plant rescues. Averted with bugs, of which she is terrified of.
Pretty much everybody regarding Sotomura, but Satou is probably the worst offender. Even when Sotomura says innocuous things such as wanting to be friends with people with a normal face, she misinterprets it as her doing bad delinquent things.
Everybody around him thinks Touma has this regarding Sotomura.
Sotomura herself can fall into this with her overly trusting nature.
Huge Schoolgirl: Sotomura. She's so self-conscious about it that she leans down to speak to most people - combined with her unnatural grin, she tends to look terrifying. Unfortunately, even when she maintains good posture it frightens people, so she can't win.
I Just Want to Have Friends: If it weren't for the fact this is a gag manga, it would be even more heartbreaking than it's presented. Though she does eventually start making friends, starting with Haruno.
Haruno's "smile lessons" don't seem to be helping much, but Haruno's genuine friendship elicits most of Sotomura's genuine smiles.
Sotomura admires Hina for appearing so sweet and being able to get along so easily with others. While walking home with her, Sotomura compliments Hina for having so many friends. After a beat, Hina privately and glumly notes that she has no real friends (since she doesn't actually like anyone else and nobody knows her true nature). Sotomura actually has a better social life than Hina because she actually has a friend.
Japanese Delinquents: Sotomura is wrongfully believed to be one. Back in her days as a student, her mother really was one.
Last Name Basis: Everyone; it's not til chapter 44 that we learn Haruno's given name is Mika.
First Name Basis: Haruno has Sotomura start calling her by her first name in chapter 61, and just as she feared, people then think that she is now Sotomura's underling.
Master of the Mixed Message: Poor Sotomura is so bad with words she can make the most innocent phone call sound like a crime boss giving veiled commands to his minions. Her plan for her little brother's surprise birthday party reads like an assassination plot. And the less said about her brief experiment with Twitter the better.
Not Blood Siblings: Sotomura and her little brother are, but most people who see them together are convinced they're not and that he's just an underling.
Not Helping Your Case: A lot of Sotomura's problems stem from simple social awkwardness or misunderstandings. However, once in a while she does things that reinforce her image yet make perfect sense to her. Examples include getting an actual chain for a cell phone strap or refusing to dye her brown hair because that's something delinquents do.
Not so Above It All: Haruno doesn't have any of the misunderstandings or quirks that almost every other character has, unless you count the misunderstanding that she is a normal girl.
Not So Different: Himeki-san, the Spoiled Sweet girl who wants to be a delinquent just like Sotomura-san, has no idea that Sotomura is actually just as sweet as she is.
Oblivious to Love: Due to the aforementioned issue with her struggling to find friends in the first place, Sotomura doesn't realise Mikumo may want to venture into romantic territory. The beginning of chapter 65 makes probably the most convincing case.
Older than They Look: Sotomura's mother looks so young, people at first think she's Sotomura's elder sister.
Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: Haruno and Sotomura quickly fall into this. Haruno is one of the few non-family members that know the real Sotomura and Sotomura is genuinely happy just being around Haruno.
Sensei-chan: Yoshinaga-sensei, though only Sotomura really knows how unreliable she is, though to offset this Yoshinaga is one of the few people who know the real Sotomura.
Shrinking Violet: Again, Sotomura's true nature in all but appearance. She's even afraid of elevators. Unfortunately, people misinterpret her fear as anger. Mikumo is impressed by her bravery when she rides an extreme roller coaster twice, when in reality she was too paralyzed by fear to get off the ride.
Silk Hiding Steel: While Sotomura's true personality is that of a Shrinking Violet, she does have some real traits that add to her badass rep. When she spots bullying she is quick to step in. She is a lot stronger than she looks. Practices kendo enough to teach others and use it as a way to calm down when she gets nervous.
Spoiled Sweet: Himeki, the rich girl who wants to be a delinquent just like Sotomura...if only her absurdly sweet nature didn't keep getting in the way.
Haruno is getting so good at knowing what Sotomura is thinking, mainly the loopholes she tries to use to avoid Haruno's fashion advice, that Sotomura accuses her of mind reading.
Strong Family Resemblance: Natsumi looks exactly like her mother did during the latter's high school days. Their tense expressions at the same age are identical but their reasons are different: The daughter being nervous around people and the mother being extremely hostile.
Sure, Let's Go with That: Sotomura's self-proclaimed underling once asked Sotomura where she could buy Sarashi to bind her chest. When Sotomura asked why she was being asked that, the girl said she believes that's what Sotomura does. Sotomura decided to allow the girl to believe that.
Sustained Misunderstanding: The whole manga basically runs on this and Sotomura isn't the only one everyone misunderstands; she herself misunderstands several people. Haruno is about the only one who understands whats going on.
Tsundere: Sotomura-san's mother was a solid Type-A at her age after she met her future husband.
Unknown Rival: Those three genuine yankees who try to antagonise Sotomura-san.
The Unsmile: One third of the reason people misunderstand her - her forced smiles aren't inviting.
What Happened to the Mouse?: So far two characters, Ozawa and Yukari, were slowly moved out of the manga, replaced by characters with similar motivations, Mikumo and Himeki.
When She Smiles: Sotomura's normal smile is quite pleasant, but it only shows when she's not self-conscious. As mentioned above, most of her problems come when she tries to force it.