Manga: Boku ni Natta Watashi

15 04 2009

Manga reviews aren’t really my thing, but since Tekky is currently caught in a whirlpool of his own procrastination, I thought I’d fill the silence with something short about a manga I found recently.

Boku ni Natta Watashi (translated something like “When I Became a He”) is a five-volume shoujo manga about a girl named Takanashi Momoko, who, when her twin brother Akira’s running away from home threatens to lose his spot at an elite boys’ academy, is forced by her mother to disguise herself as a boy and take his place.  Because the description I read said something about “surrounded by gorgeous guys,” I thought it would be a reverse harem, but it’s actually a straightforward romance – Momoko’s secret is discovered by her handsome roommate, Itou Kunio, almost right away, and their relationship begins soon after.  The story is more or less about their trials and tribulations as a couple.

It seems like a pretty normal shoujo manga, right?  And then you get to the part where Momoko confesses to Itou:

WHAT THE--WHERE DID THAT COME FROM

WHAT THE--WHERE DID THAT COME FROM

Note that this is not an ecchi manga!  I was completely blindsided.  Now, I am allowing for the possibility that this is a quirk of translation and that the actual line was “love slave,” which…has the same implications but at least doesn’t have the innocent virgin Momoko (who later in the series hesitates seriously about having sex with Itou) explicitly asking the guy she likes to make her his bitch.  But still, I think that this wins Boku ni Natta Watashi the Menma Prize for Worst Confession in a Shoujo Manga Ever.  I don’t hand those out like candy, you know!

This one page is really the only one in the entire series that made my jaw drop.  Of course, there are a couple other things that I objected to but which are pretty par for the course in shoujo – like when Kawakami, a gay classmate of Itou and Momoko’s, decides to rape “Akira” as revenge for Itou, his crush, never paying attention to him.  Okay, the girl-is-almost-raped-guy-saves-her story appears in almost every shoujo manga ever created…I can roll my eyes and let it go.  But after that storyline concludes, Kawakami becomes Itou and Momoko’s closest friend, and a very sympathetic character.  But…but…but he rapes people!  Guys, please don’t make friends like that!  In the end, I liked Kawakami enough that I decided to mark the sexual assault “not canon” in my brain and pretend it never happened.  But it is pretty terrible to have to do that, when you think about it!  And this, too, is unfortunately a staple of shoujo manga as well: perpetuators of sexual harassment/assault, no matter how despicable or scary, all have the potential to become friendly, likeable characters.  (Hello Reino from Skip Beat.)

That is the really the end of my complaints, though.  I genuinely found this manga cute and enjoyable.  Although I couldn’t really see a good reason for Itou to fall in love with Momoko besides physical proximity (and, I guess, her being cute and clumsy and needing his protection), I liked the development of their relationship.  It wasn’t anything new to the genre, and for awhile it follows the general formula of “girl gets anxious about Aspect B of relationship, does something extreme to fix it, messes everything up, is reassured by guy that nothing was wrong to begin with.” But there were a few moments that made me genuinely say “awww!”

I also really appreciated that things didn’t get all dark and angsty (ahem, Karekano) – thanks, Shimaki Ako, for not tossing some sexual abuse into Itou’s past – and I thought that the treatment of sexuality was actually very respectful and not contrived, unlike a lot of shoujo manga I’ve read where the couple decides to GO ALL TEH WAY!!1!1.  With Momoko and Itou, it’s not a decision made on the spot, no one is pressuring anyone else (ahem again, Karekano), and HOLY SHIT, BIRTH CONTROL IS ACTUALLY DISCUSSED AND (presumably) USED (ahem-hem-HEM, Karekano)!    Seriously, that alone is enough to win my heart.  It makes me want to actually make an effort to restrain my laughter at stuff like this:

"Momoko" means "peach child."  Yeah.

"Momoko" means "peach child." Yeah.

Hahaha holy shit.  But seriously, if you like school romances that don’t have a buttload of angst in them, and you don’t mind that teens havin’ sex is directly addressed and, uh, illustrated (nothing incredibly explicit, but there’s a good amount of nudity in some of the chapters), give this a try.  You probably won’t be disappointed, and even if you are, well, it’s sixteen chapters.  No huge amount of your life will have been wasted.

–Menma

P.S.  I apparently am incapable of writing anything “short.”

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3 responses

15 04 2009
tekky99

XD, oh gosh, I almost want to make a Demotivator out of that picture

15 04 2009
tacticalmenmaaction

Which one? Sex slave or peach?

29 04 2009
gevicra

LOL! I love your review and I totally agree about Karekano! Thank god I read reviews before wasting a good part of my life on it. Also, about not being able to write anything short, it really doesn’t matter! I was entertained all the way and reached the end safely! In fact, I like the length of your reviews. I think it’s just right. Thanks~ *huggles Menma*

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