At a Glance: Karakuri Odette
'I wonder what's the difference between me and humans.' At that time, that was the only thing I thought about.— Odette
In Karakuri Odette, Odette is an android who wants to go to school to learn about herself and about humans, and about what makes her different from them. She wants to be treated as normal, and feels tense about anything that marks her difference from others. The doctor who created her is basically using the whole "going to school" thing as one big experiment to see how human-like Odette can become if socializing with humans.
The other children at the school don't know Odette is an android. She becomes friends with Youko, a girl with a chronic disease, basically because they're both individuals who stick out as different and have trouble fitting in. Odette keeps requesting alterations from the doctor to make her look and act more human, such as wanting less strength so she can participate in P.E. and wanting the ability to eat food (even though she still has no functional digestion, she just eats and then cleans out her stomach later). So, the manga series simply explores her journey to try to make friends and become more like a human.
Shoujo, Slice of Life, Science Fiction
I would describe this manga series in one word as minimalist. In a good way. Karakuri Odette doesn't have the sparkles, roses, bold declarations of love, drama, or fighting of other dramatic shoujo titles like Revolutionary Girl Utena. Instead, what you get is an interesting and real-feeling observation of the girl's life and her struggle with her identity. In some ways, it can almost seem like a metaphor for being transgender, because Odette focuses on "passing" as human so much and experiences emotional pain whenever there is some conspicuous difference between herself and humans she notices. She feels isolated at first, unable to participate in things she sees other students having fun doing, like lunch and P.E.
When I read this, I felt very moved by Odette's journey, and I think other people who read this will be moved as well.
It's not a flashy manga. But it's sweet if you like that kind of thing.