by Haruka Fukushima; adapted by Kaya Laterman
published by Del Rey Manga; $10.99 US
It seems that harem manga aimed at girls differs from that aimed at boys in three major ways:
There are fewer boys involved, usually 3, instead of a half-dozen or more girls.
There may be some plot beyond “falling in love”, which is why they may not be immediately recognizable as part of this genre or only questionably so. Fruits Basket, for example, has the quest to break a mystical curse. Ouran High School Host Club features cross-dressing. The Wallflower has four guys trying to “reform” a goth horror fan.
And usually, there’s a lot less obvious fan service. Guy characters their for the visuals don’t thrust their crotches or chests at the viewer the way harem girls flash their panties and push out their breasts. Women don’t walk in on men undressing nearly as often as guys do.
So why am I pondering this? Because that’s the whole point of this book. Which of three boys will the orphaned Rui pick? Kaoru? She’s got a crush on him, but he’s fooling around with someone else. Neighbor Taro? They’re such good friends that she crawls into bed with him without a second thought, but she only thinks of him as a friend. Or intern teacher Eisuke? He winds up living with her after another girl burns down his apartment.
I really don’t care for the way Haruka Fukushima’s characters look so very young. It made more sense in her earlier series, Instant Teen, but here, where the focus is romance instead of growing up, it’s creepy. I guess a college student isn’t THAT much older than a junior high girl (although a six-year difference is pretty big at that age), but I still don’t want to see them flirting.
I also find her busy, overdone storytelling horrible. Often, I can’t tell what’s happened. In other cases where the visuals aren’t clear, the writer covers the lack through dialogue or captions, but here, the text is generically boring.
The book is meant to be funny, but instead of laughing, it’s so frantic that I felt nothing but tired after reading it. (A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)