by Miki Aihara; adaptation by Shaenon Garrity
published by Viz; $8.99 US
Author Miki Aihara created my favorite manga, Hot Gimmick, so I was a guaranteed customer for her next project, Tokyo Boys & Girls. This series doesn’t have the flair or uniqueness of that one, but it’s a decent soap opera read.
Mimori is a cute fifteen-year-old entering high school and wishing for her first boyfriend. She’s spunky, standing up to teachers and trying to do the right thing regardless of what people think. She quickly becomes friends with Nana, a beautiful girl who has little internal life beyond her crush on good-looking, fickle Kazukita. Sadly, he doesn’t care at all about her; he’s fascinated by Mimori, in a way that sometimes reminds me of a vivisectionist seeing what happens when he pokes THAT nerve.
Instead, Kazukita’s best friend Ran is in love with Nana, making for a circular square. The last major player is Haruta, a misunderstood bad boy with bleached hair. He’s got a secret that makes him want revenge on Mimori from something that happened when they were in grade school together. It’s not a very big deal when it’s finally revealed, leaving me thinking “that’s IT?” It’s a touching flashback, but it’s not grounds for threatening the girl.
Early in the book, the two girls end up accidentally destroying the only disc containing a video game Ran and Kazukita have created. This is an artifical reason to keep bringing the characters together, but it’s mostly forgotten through future books in the series, since the “who likes whom” elements are strong enough on their own.
Compared to the darker elements in Hot Gimmick, this series is much lighter, with choices having less importance. The characters seem a bit more generic, as well, which meant I wasn’t as emotionally involved in caring about who ends up with whom. Any of the relationships would have their good points and their problems, and that opens up the possibilities such that I have no idea how the series will end.
It’s an enjoyable high school soap opera, but not a very significant one. The drama’s high for the participants, but the older reader may not be as likely to get caught up in “he likes her who likes him who likes her”.
The book also contains an unrelated short story about a girl who’s trying to plan her first trip with her boyfriend. She’s jealous of his friendships with other girls because of her uncertainty over his feelings for her. Unsurprisingly, he turns out to be just as insecure, only he’s been hiding it behind his blasé facade.