This is one of the rare series where I would say the collected graphic novel format works against it. I really like this series, I enjoy the plot and characters… but I think it works much better in the seasonal anthology it appears in, sandwiched between other series, because the same types of things happen in every chapter. I like these things, I love the formula, but it’s more obvious what’s going on when I read the chapters together in a graphic novel instead of individually over a period of a year mixed in with other things.
It’s a bit naughty, but it’s pretty obvious this is supposed to be for little girls, so other than implied peeking or nudity or touching, there’s not much worse than little kisses or hand-holding aside from the characters talking about/implying doing more every once in awhile. The way all the stories seem to work is that something will happen to destroy the confidence in either the boy character or girl character, and the two will be apart until they confirm their love again, then cute scenes will happen. The things that happen to drive them apart could have something to do with other people, a sudden realization of a shortcoming, or something silly one or the other of them said. It doesn’t really matter since the story winds up the same way every time. It’s still cute though, and it’s rare to see a series where the main couple is “together” instead of stammering and dancing around being boyfriend-girlfriend.
The one story that stood out a little was one where the girl transformed into a boy at night somehow. This is never explained, really, but the fact that she was even more… forward than girl Haruki was pretty cute. I would love to see the two inexplicably locked in this situation and have the plot advance, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. It’s a real shame.
For a little girls romantic comedy, this series is pretty good. I like it a lot despite its formulaic nature… a lot better than a regular school romance, actually. You could do far worse for a shoujo series, but I definitely wish there was a little more to the plot.
In the back, Fukushima explains that this series runs in a special edition of Nakayoshi, which explains its episodic nature a bit better. She also mentions that it’s extremely popular and a lot of people prefer it to her current series Cherry Juice, which makes me hope she’ll turn it into a regular series. I certainly like it a lot, but it continues to be extremely episodic and mostly insubstantial cute, fluffy love stories.
Haruki’s siblings are brought into play again, along with the standard hot spring plot device. I forgive this series things like this though, because it’s just so darn cute. There’s also the expected rivalry for affection, an episode where Haruki loses control of his transformations and spontaneously turns female, and lots of doubt and declarations of love between the two main characters. It’s an extremely sincere romance, but there’s not much substance to it. I would read volume 3 in a heartbeat, but it looks like it’ll be awhile before we see it.
This series I snagged from work in a pile of much crappier Tokyopop manga. I kinda liked Fukushima’s other series Instant Teen, but on the other hand Cherry Juice doesn’t sound good at all. I’m always game for gender swap comedies, even though they haven’t been kind to me lately, so I decided to take the plunge.
In short, this series isn’t really good at all. It’s really chaotic and hard to follow as far as art and action go, and the pacing is really a mess. It seems like in the chapter, several things happen. These things happen in rapid succession, with no transition between them, and then the chapter is over. While it can occasionally be hard to tell what’s going on in individual panels, the plot is fairly simple. These are some serious flaws.
But let me tell you, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved the ink off this volume. The basic plot is that a girl who is friends with a little boy (named Haruki) finds out that the boy transforms into a “raunchy,” well-developed girl at night. Instead of the boy she had a crush on, the girl instead falls in love with the girl version of her friend, Haruko. There’s lots of cute kissing scenes between the girls, and they seem to be extremely open about being touchy-feely for what appears to be a manga for little girls. I thought they were implying sex in the first chapter, actually, but later the main character mentions that she and Haruko/Haruki hadn’t gotten farther than their first, very passionate, kiss.
It’s played mostly for comedy, and there’s some angst thrown in there as well since Haruki expresses his love better when he’s a girl. So far, it’s got stories you’d expect, like one about how a girl at school tries to start hitting on Haruki and the main character gets jealous, and one where the main character visits Haruki’s house. The latter story is a bit odd in that Haruki’s siblings make no comment about his transforming other than to mention that the girl fell in love with him after she found about the transformation.
The romance, as stupid as it can be at times, is extremely sincere. All the events in the chapters are abrupt, but they’re all extremely well thought-out and genuinely interesting plot points, for the most part, given what they are. It’s really fun, and even though I don’t expect it’ll go anywhere (there’s no real overarching plot other than getting each other to admit feelings or whatever), I think I’ll really enjoy the next couple volumes.