by Eiki Eiki
published by Digital Manga; $12.95 US
This is my first DokiDoki title. I had the impression that the Digital Manga imprint was for shonen-ai (or “yaoi lite”, boy/boy stories without the sex), but it seems that it’s instead intended to be “the gateway from shojo to yaoi”, romance stories of any kind for teens.
This title is based on a goofy concept. 16-year-old Minori skips school one day to play video games at an arcade. (Do those still exist?) When she beats a guy whom no one else can win against, he declares that he wants to marry her. If that’s not weird enough, he turns out to be the new 25-year-old prime minister, the youngest ever.
Before she knows this, though, he saves her from some creeps on the street, impressing her with his toughness. (We wouldn’t want the reader to think he was a wimp, would we, since she beat him at the video game?) She’s scared by the way her parents are willing to just hand her over to him and the way he keeps sweeping her away privately. It’s ok, though, because all he wants to do is play with her hair.
This is a kid’s version of suddenly being discovered and having anything you want. What should be scary becomes silly — the hair fascination, the method by which he discovers her. She just needs to realize that, no matter what she decides or wants, she’s meant to be with him because he really loves her. This is the part of the story that disturbs me when I think about its message, that he makes the decision and she should just go along with it.
Her childish protestations provide the comedy, as does a rivalry with the minister’s aide, an 18-year-old genius who’s in love with his boss. The aide, although presumably making policy decisions for an entire country, takes out his jealousy on her by putting salt in the sugar and tacks in her slippers, completely juvenile actions. I haven’t read anything this silly since Prez. I think I might have liked this series better if there were any actual politics in it, or any acknowledgment of his position beyond the mention of paparazzi.
When too much press coverage becomes unbearable, her parents have her move in with the prime minister at the official residence. But they have to be careful when seen in public; as a reporter says, “You want people thinking you’re a pedophile?” I have a hard time finding funny any premise that jokes about such things, especially when the message really is that she should calm down and accept the older man making her life decisions for her.
Artistically, the faces have the extremely pointed chins I associate with manhwa (Korean comics), and the anatomy can be dodgy: hulking shoulders or shapeless bodies without bones or freaky giraffe necks. The panels are full of shortcuts — few panels per page, letting the text carry the story, panels of nothing but texture background, panels that lack backgrounds or any hint of setting. The images capture particular moments, just enough of them to keep the story going but not enough to create any reading flow. I do like the way Eiki sometimes uses a thicker ink line around her characters to pull them in front of the rest of the page visually. But mostly, I think they’re all idiots.
The second volume is due in October, with a third following in January. Eiki Eiki has also authored the Train*Train series, a comedy about boys who work in a train station. (A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)