Haken Senshi Yamada Noriko is a Yonkoma Manga by Munemi Takano, published monthly in Manga Town since Dec. 2000.
It is the story of a Noriko Yamada, a Temporary Employee in Tokyo.
Except "Temp Worker" translates to "Haken Sha-in", and the title is "Haken Senshi" - "Temp Warrior". This is because Yamada Noriko is no ordinary Temp - she's the Almighty Janitor to end all Almighty Janitors. If you can name it, she can do it. If you can get her stationed to your underperforming department, you're saved. And if you work in the same department as her and don't do your work properly? That's what the Katana is for.
In short, it's a Widget Series about Japanese office culture with amusing circumventions of normal office problems, relying on a mix of visual humor and puns to deliver the funny. One of the popular series in Manga Town.
Tropes found in this Manga include
- Almighty Janitor: The trope that best describes Yamada Noriko, Temp Warrior. She is reputed to be able to do anything, but has turned down offers of continued employment.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: As she favors the most efficient way of doing things - physical laws of the universe be damned - Noriko comes off as this sometimes, especially with people meeting her for the first time. And as said before, she is good at what she does.
- Brilliant, but Lazy: As a temp, Noriko gets to go home at 5 PM every evening - and this is apparently her reason for remaining a temp.
- Gag Series: Has no overarching plot beyond the Running Gags, making it easy to pick up and read.
- Katanas Are Just Better: Noriko has special permission to carry around a Katana, ostensibly for self-defense purposes. It's pretty sharp, and she has a bunch of other types hidden around for different uses.
- Mundane Utility: Oh wow. You wouldn't have thought there were so many ways to use a katana... From peeling an apple to using a hot blade to warm tea, to cutting metal cans in two and carving bear statues out of tree stumps.
- Perpetual Expression: Noriko is normally drawn without a mouth (she has one) and generally only uses expressions to make a point. This is in-universe, and only those who have worked with her for a while can read her at all.
- It's also the reason she's not good with kids - her smile is... unsettling, even when she's trying to be kind. She normally just rolls with it.
- Running Gag: Lots. Most, if not all, of the comic is Noriko's coworkers reacting to something she has done.
- Noriko constantly customizes the building she works in. There are trap doors everywhere now...
- A certain coworker tries to "borrow" something from Noriko's desk after she goes home for the day... which she booby-traps in advance. Started out with brush-written missives playing off of his reactions, then worked up to dropping him down a trap door, hitting him with a strong gust of air, attacking him by missiles... Often followed by the manager yelling at him to get back to work.
- Another coworker screws up horribly on his paperwork, and Noriko goes to punish him with her sword... in rather creative ways.
- A guy from another department takes something from Noriko's without signing for it. Noriko then goes to "remind" him.
- The Voiceless: Noriko is never directly shown speaking Japanese - she has a number of animal friends that she talks to and is a pretty good mimic of onomatopoeia-type sounds. If she's talking to someone, they respond by Repeating So the Audience Can Hear. On occasion, she projects an aura that tells everyone what she's thinking (hint: if you can see it, it's probably anger).