Manic Manga: Boku to Kanojo no XXX

Bokura to Kanojo no XXX

Boku to Kanojo no XXX

Title: Boku to Kanojo no XXX
Alternate Titles: 僕と彼女の×××, 我和她的XXX, My Barbaric Girlfriend, Your & My Secret
Author & Artist: Morinaga Ai
Year: 2001
Genre: Comedy, Romance, School Life, Shoujo, Gender Bender
Volumes: 08 (Completed)
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Description:
A rude girl and an effeminate boy switch bodies and find that it might be a better fit for both of them in this crazy comedy:

Nanako Momoi is the belle of high school… as long as she stays quiet. Once she shows her true self, guys’ dreams are shattered for she is a true tomboy. Akira Uehara has the looks and brains, but, unfortunately, his personality is so dull it overcasts a shadow, and nobody notices him.

One day, Nanako’s grandfather comes up with a crazy invention, and Nananko and Akira trade bodies! She’s in his body, and he’s in hers! All information come from Manga Updates. This blog post will contain spoilers please read after the cut if you’ve already read the manga.

Well, first off, I’d like to make a confession. In the past, during my major manga boom (around 2001-2008), I had picked up every single manga I could get my hands on and read to my heart’s content. There’s no way I could ever recover that library of manga unless something miraculous happens. Anyway, I picked this up when ADV were still in business in America as official manga translators (although I’ve come soon to realize that they – along with Tokyo Pop – were very crappy translators). During this boom of mine, I picked up a copy of this manga (entitled as “Your & My Secret”) and read it to my heart’s content because the plot sounded really interesting to me.

However, I could never find the second volume anywhere. Later I learned that before ADV had gone out of business, they had dropped this manga up to the third volume.

I was worried that I wasn’t going to be able to read it… until tonight.

My good friend had linked me to a post on Tumblr about feminism in Japan and how different it actually was compared to Western feminism. If you’d like to read the post, the original commentator had deleted it but it can be read here on this Tumblr blog post. Because of this blog post, this made this manga a little more interesting.

I decided to start from the very beginning, as it had been years since I last read it. And I was determined to finish it.

So what are my thoughts?

My thoughts are… really complicated. I can kinda see what Ai was going for in the manga, but she’s not really known to follow the masses. She has really strange manga ideas (like Ahiru no Ouji-sama and Gokuraku Seishun Hockey Bu, another set of manga of hers I’ve yet to finish) as well as literally throwing fuck all at the wall and seeing what sticks. And I’m guessing… this wasn’t it.

On one hand, I like the idea. I like the idea of challenging the idea between masculinity and femininity and, seeing how I actually learned something about the issues of feminism in Japan, this made me interested and there were a lot of things I had missed on my first read-through. There were actually a lot of funny parts in it – due to poor Akira’s desire to get back to his original body but, at the same time, he wanted to enjoy his time in his crush’s body. After all, he is biologically a man.

On the other hand, no, not really. I didn’t like it. In fact, I found almost all the characters, with the literal exceptions of Shiina and Akira, to be really stupid and selfish. I eventually warm up to Senbougi, but that’s only because he finally admitted he liked Akira as Akira – no matter what body he’s actually in.

Well, I liked Senbougi until the final chapters. He became really insufferable. On one hand, I can understand. When the two of them finally did return to their original bodies, Akira had started to accept the fact he was going to stay in Nanako’s body, and vice versa. Not only that, he blurted out, as he got back into his own body, that this was normal and how things should be. Apparently, this hurt Senbougi’s feelings for some reason and he started to avoid Akira after that.

Once again, on the other hand… no, not really. I thought the point of Senbougi and Akira becoming a couple was that Senbougi was still going to like him even as a man – but that’s not the case. There was a scene that he “attacks” Momoi after the final switchback, thinking she’s Akira still. This was supposed to be funny but then it finally shows what my major problem was this was: Gender was still a big deal to Senbougi.

Momoi couldn’t care any less if she was a woman or a man – if Shiina was bisexual. Since Shiina wasn’t, Momoi was determined to get back into Akira’s body and the end. I’m not too comfortable with that idea for both of them.

Seriously, the whole deal about Akira fretting over Senbougi was that Senbougi admitted that even as a guy, he had feelings for Akira. He said it’s easier to act them out because Akira is in a woman’s body, which is fair enough. But in the end, it was still about gender. It wasn’t about his personality. The end has the grandfather get amnesia after he manages to unshrink Nanako’s dad (don’t even ask) – that’s when they got their original bodies back – and Senbougi takes it on as a mission to get Akira back in Nanko’s body and vice versa.

Another thing that really bothered me about this manga series was that Akira was the only one uncomfortable at the idea he’s not in his body. He’s the only one who’s making any effort to be comfortable in his own skin. Not only that, this manga shows the double standard men and women have – Nananko in Akira’s body literally slept with all the women (and arguably men) because she kept saying he’ll get sick if he doesn’t. However, Akira was not allowed to even look at Nanako’s naked body (while bathing!) because she wanted to save herself for marriage.

Not only that, literally everyone was saying, “Oh, don’t go back to your original body. Things are great, aren’t they?” In fact, Akira went to a fortune teller who said the very same thing.

I feel kind of dissatisfied with this manga only because of the problems I’ve presented. I do realize that Ai probably didn’t care about the main point of the manga (what is the main point anyway? does she even have any in her other manga?) and probably just wanted to do a gender bender just so she can have a story like that in her collection.

I did like the art though. The humor mostly comes from Akira’s reactions to the situations more so than anything but Nanako’s antics did get really trying really quickly. I feel honestly disappointed by this but I’m not sure what I really expected from a mangaka like Ai Morinaga. Another thing I did actually like was that Akira and Nanako did not get together and eventually Akira did finally let go of his crush. It started to get on my nerves though that Akira kept bringing how mean and cruel she is. We know that, already, dude! That’s how you got into that situation in the first place! But it was a nice change of pace that the two (opposite sex) main characters didn’t get together for once.

I’m not even sure if I would recommend this manga to anyone other than those who can appreciate something different and something for them not to take seriously. Ultimately, that’s where my disappointment lies:

I took an Ai Morinaga manga seriously.

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