story by Pentabu; manga by Rize Shinba; adapted by Stephen Paul
published by Yen Press; $10.99 US
Review by Ed Sizemore
Yuiko Ameya is a fujoshi (literally, “rotten lady”), which means she’s a female otaku devoted to yaoi. (In other words, a devoted fan of manga about boy-boy love and sex.) Taiga Mutou is a college student who has a fetish for older sister-type women. He falls in love with Yuiko at first sight and takes a part-time job with the company where she works in hopes of getting to know her. After many missteps, they become a couple. However, Taiga doesn’t realize what he’s gotten himself into.
My Girlfriend’s a Geek is a romantic comedy that plays off the old cliche “opposites attract”. The twist here is that it’s the guy who is the “normal” one in the relationship, and it’s the girl that is the “weirdo”. Specifically, Yuiko is a yaoi fangirl who spends lots of time dreaming of the various male pairings she creates from popular manga titles. Incredibly, Taiga appears to be someone completely ignorant of yaoi and its subculture.
This series is the negative image of Train Man (Densha Otoko). In that manga, a male otaku falls in love with a normal girl. In order to build a relationship with her, he chooses to come out of his fanboy shell and embrace conventional social norms. In My Girlfriend, a normal guy falls in love with an otaku female. However, she refuses to give up her fangirl lifestyle and instead seeks to transform him into her yaoi boy toy. So instead of a charming tale of personal transformation in the name of love, we get an unsettling story of a female Svengali.
The main problem with this story is the dysfunctional and one-sided nature of the relationship between Yuiko and Taiga. To her credit, Yuiko admits upfront to Taiga that she is a fujoshi. Because of his fetish, he ignores the warning and starts dating Yuiko. It becomes clear the only reason she continues the relationship is because Taiga is so easy to manipulate. She doesn’t appear to really care about him. This is best seen when Yuiko begins to call Taiga “Sebastian” because of a butler fantasy she has about him. He doesn’t enjoy it, and in the course of four pages, he asks her to stop four times, completely serious and frustrated each time. She ignores him, and the scene ends with Taiga finding he has a new nickname.
In truth, neither character is sympathetic or likeable. Taiga is dating a girl because he has a thing for women old enough to be his older sister. Even when he understands this won’t be the romantic relationship he hoped for, he can’t break up with Yuiko because of his fetish. Yuiko is selfish and self-absorbed. Whenever they are together, she spends more time lost in her yaoi fantasies than focused on Taiga. Once she realizes that Taiga won’t break up with her, she quickly takes advantage of him. If he says no to any of her requests, she simply pouts, and he caves in instantly. She has found the perfect marionette to play with.
Lest anyone think I’m just miffed because it’s the guy being lead by the ring in his nose instead of the girl, let me remind you that I’m currently following Sundome. At least in that series, the guy willing undergoes humiliation and manipulation. Also, in Sundome, the characters are deeply flawed but sympathetic. Not always likeable, but still sympathetic.
The only good thing about My Girlfriend is the art. Shinba is a skilled shojo artist. The characters are attractive and have good fashion sense. The page layouts are dynamic and create nice dramatic tension at the right moments. I especially love the use of background screentones to highlight Yuiko’s mood. It’s a shame that such delightful art is wasted on such a dreadful story.
The only appeal that My Girlfriend’s a Geek has is the novelty of a fujoshi character as the lead. However, since Yuiko lives up to the name “rotten lady”, the charm dies quickly. Readers should look elsewhere for their shojo fix. Nana, Honey & Clover, or Suppli would be better romantic reads. Taiga, your girlfriend isn’t a geek, she’s an insensitive jerk. Wise up, dump her, and get some therapy about that fetish.