Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Springing Forward!

And here I am, ready to deliver another manga review with the speed and regularity comparable to most federal program refunds! Yay! Right?

Shake the dust off and come with me. Today I will dazzle you with:


(I had to go back and spell that correctly, like, three times. Seriously.)

This manga fits within the "gender bender" category: we have an attractive, heterosexual protagonist, En Shinohara, who loves girls so much he just has to dress like them. His aversion to men is so intense that if he even catches a glimpse of himself without his drag outfits in the mirror, he will go ballistic and punch out the mirror.
Can't stand himself as a guy...poor guy.

Everyone knows En is a dude, but he's so glamorous as a chick that it's just a minor detail.

One girl in particular catches his attention and captures his heart: Hinata Saotome (a nod to Ranma 1/2 perhaps?...). She is the other main character: an adorable high school girl who has a thing for bishies. My description makes her sound a bit vapid, but she's actually got a strong character and personality. When En, who manages to dress like a proper young man, asks her out, she is bewitched by his good looks and agrees to go out with him.

Hinata is adorable, but also fierce and strong-minded.

Imagine her surprise when she finally realizes that the hottie she is dating is actually a cross-dresser. And not just any cross-dresser: his good looks rival those of all the girls at their school. No worries, though: he loves Hinata, and Hinata, despite getting frustrated (mostly because there are few social references and precedents for her to consult when it comes to dating a cross-dresser), sees him for the kind person he is and for his good heart. They get together early on, but this isn't really an angsty relationship type of manga. It's comedy, slice of life, and romance.

This manga focuses a lot on the various relationships budding around the main couple, among their friends, and even En's parents get a story arc. It's not all sappy though, as the mangaka, Ayumi Komura, has a great sense of humor. She goes all meta on the reader, breaking the fourth wall: her characters tease her, make cracks about the ridiculously contrived situations they may find themselves in in order to advance the story line (En gets amnesia- again!), and make fun of the fact they are still in the same grade in high school, despite a few years having passed by.

There's a real friendly, playful tone to this manga, which really doesn't take itself too seriously and is  lighthearted- and heartfelt. The reader ends up feeling like an accomplice while reading about the mangaka's thoughts and explanations behind some of the characters, plots, art, etc. The art is great and the drawings, although more on the cutesy side and very stylized (not a bad thing), are eye-catching, attractive, and unique.

While the plot is almost secondary at times to the other antics going on, ultimately the message of the manga is one of acceptance, friendship, and trying news things: taking a walk on the wild side...

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