by Kazurou Inoue; adaptation by Fred Burke
published by Viz; $9.99 US
Midori Days has the kind of premise that makes people look askance at “those weird manga books”. Seiji is a superb fighter who wants a girlfriend, but since everyone’s afraid of him, no girl wants to be with him. One night, after a desperate wish, he discovers that his right hand has turned into a girl, Midori, who had admired Seiji without him knowing for three years. She’s scared, but for her the silver lining is that she gets to be near the guy she loves, even if she’s shrunken and stuck on the end of his arm.
Wacky hijinx ensure. Seiji visits Midori’s home to try and put her back in her comatose full-size body, but her mother misunderstands seeing him try to touch her. Seiji wraps Midori in bandages to hide her from others and buys her doll clothes. Seiji has to figure out how to use a urinal without Midori seeing.
Although Seiji is a typical high school boy — his first response isn’t “why is my right hand a girl?” but “why does my hand have tits?” — the overall feel of the series isn’t as creepy as one might fear. He does mean well, and the way his powerful right fist has been replaced by a girl, a being he could never have and doesn’t understand, is amusingly pathetic. The book takes the idea of a boy’s most reliable girlfriend being his right hand (nudge nudge wink wink) and literalizes it, turning it into an example of “be careful what you wish for”. People who say things like “I’d give anything to have a girlfriend, no matter what” aren’t usually in a state to think through what that means.
Plus, the art is cute. When Midori gets a cold, Seiji sits at a low table with his hand tucked into a little bed, cold compress on her forehead and covers tucked under her chin.
The really disturbing material is how stereotypically the girls are treated. Midori struggles to cook and clean for Seiji, because girlfriends should take care of their men. She saves his life while reminding him that she stayed quiet as he told her to. She’s a Pollyanna, always looking on the bright side. When Seiji’s sister drags a bunch of drunken buddies home, only child Midori is happy that Seiji has a close family.
Another classmate of Seiji’s is called a bitch for talking back to the boys. When she stands up to a bully from another school, she’s laughed at, threatened, and slapped, which immediately starts her trembling and begging for help so she can be rescued by Seiji. This converts her into an admirer, gazing adoringly at him.
When shopping for action figure costumes so Midori has something to wear, Seiji is embarrassed to be considered one of those kinds of boys, the geeks who think “Women in the real world are so full of sass! That’s why I prefer dolls! Small, cute, and innocent!” He doesn’t realize that that’s exactly what he is, and it’s the same impulse that sells this series.