Instant Teen: Just Add Nuts Volume 1
Natsumi is a fifth-grader eager to grow up so she’ll have a sexy body like those she sees in magazines. Her neighbor and best friend, Asuma, laughs at her efforts to hide his feelings for her. When she eats magic nuts, given out on the street corner as samples, she wakes up to find her dream has temporarily come true: she’s physically a well-built teenager.
Natsumi is remarkably oblivious to herself and her surroundings. One day, she’s turned away from a fancy hair salon because she’s too young. When she walks by the next day after her transformation, she’s invited to model for them. Her curiosity is minor, and when she discovers how she’s changed, her most pressing thought is “what new hairstyle will they give me?”
Instant Teen is very shallow and old-fashioned in an uncomfortable way. No one seems to notice anything odd about a 19-year-old who acts and speaks like a 12-year-old. As long as she’s pretty, that’s all that matters, to both herself and everyone around her. The only time she regrets growing up too fast, having a physical maturity she’s not equipped to handle, is when Asuma almost gets beaten up by guys flirting with her.
She promptly turns around and accepts a date from an older guy because it’s for a party on a cruise boat and then doesn’t understand why Asuma is jealous. This could be an indication of her youth, but at times like this, she instead seems remarkably stupid. There’s no downside to any of this shown for more than a couple of pages as amusing misunderstandings. It’s a child’s fantasy put on paper without any insight or consideration of the issues beyond “tee hee, now she’s got breasts”.
The book should have ended about two-thirds of the way in, with everything back to normal. Instead, the scientist who invented the magic nuts, who’d previously been warning Natsumi about the dangers of growing up too fast, sends her a bunch more. It’s as though someone decided to turn a movie into a series and told artist Haruka Fukushima “find a way to keep it going”, regardless of whether it made sense.
The art, like the story, is very much surface, plus it can be hard to follow. I’m sure there will be an audience for this, similar to the way Love Hina ran for fourteen volumes, but it’s a shame such a potent premise has so little done with it.