Portrait of M & N 1

July 29, 2010

Tachibana Higuchi – Tokyopop – 2010 – 6 volumes

All I needed to know about this series was that the main couple consisted of a masochistic girl and a narcissistic boy. It’s an interesting hook, to say the least, and enough to sell me on a 2-volume series.

Even knowing that much going in, this book was weird. With such a ridiculous premise, I thought it would be a comedy, but instead it starts off very serious, and it turns out that both characters are trying to hide their respective quirks after being shamed out of their old school. Mitsuru in particular is painfully shy and quite ashamed of her weakness, and does her best to hide it. There wasn’t much funny in her situation, since she was teased for being pretty, teased for being standoffish (she’s too shy to talk to others, and her good looks make people think she’s stuck up), teased about rumors from her old school about her being “loose,” and then it turns out she’s a masochist because her mother beat her growing up, and she knew that as long as the beatings continued her mother hadn’t completely given up on her. It was downright depressing.

Mitsuru and Natsuhiko (the narcissistic boy) are thrown together by chance at first, and Mitsuru awkwardly pursues Natsuhiko for his friendship, who reluctantly relents after a chapter or two. They begin to lean on each other as a means for one to help the other out in a time of weakness. Natsuhiko freaks out when he sees his own reflection in any surface, so he has to wear glasses in order to impair his vision. Obviously his glasses fall off every once in awhile, since this is a manga. Mitsuru turns into a different person when she’s hurt, and tends to beg the nearest person to continue the pain.

Later, another character is introduced who is privy to Mitsuru’s secret and is deathly afraid of dogs. He… doesn’t really play much of a role, and mostly serves as a strange plot device to bring Natsuhiko and Mitsuru together.

An unrelated short story at the end features an abusive boy that forces a girl to date him, then yells at her a lot and scares her into doing a lot of things she doesn’t want to. There’s a sentimental story involved eventually, and to my complete shock, it’s implied that they have sex at the end, which never happens in shoujo manga. The abuse was not to my liking and hard to read, but I have to admit I really liked the story as a whole.

Mostly, this book is just awkward and abusive, and a little hard to read, but there’s still something entertaining about it. I think it really is just the hook that sustains it, because neither the plot or the characters really develop. I have the second volume, so let’s see if it gets any better.

edit: I misread an author’s note that made me think this series was only two volumes. The fact it’s longer makes it skew a little worse for me, but I’ll go into that next time.