Manga a bit more feminine in nature seems to be the theme for this week, and whether it’s the crazy high school sci-fi hijinks of Haruhi-chan, the butt-kicking martial arts mayhem of Sumomomo Momomo, or the folklore-filled wisdom of Spice and Wolf, there are new volumes to satisfy the part of you that was left hungry after last week’s stream of shonen bad-assery. Though it’s not always the case, one of the nice things about manga is that there are so many with interesting female leads that are actually written by women, which lends itself to more realistic, less stereotypical lady characters. Say what you want, but it’s probably a good reason that there’s a larger ratio of girls who read manga as opposed to mainstream American superhero comics. So, in an effort to prove that I also read things that don’t have giant robots, form-fitting space suits, or alien invasions, I’m going to expound upon some of the stuff that’s perhaps a bit more… uh… frilly.
Like My Girlfriend’s A Geek, the third volume of which hits our shelves this week. Ladies, any of you who have ever felt like you were alone in your insane hobby of reading tons of manga (deciding it’s super gay) and then collecting tons of toys and doujinshi while you fervently churn out a Bible-length fanfic on that thing, fear no more: This manga was written for you! It’s not just fanboys who can pant and mouth-breathe heavily at the mere sight of something they’re hardcore nerdy about, here’s the proof that girls can be just as bad! The hilarity is probably found most in understanding otaku culture (in particular fujoushi culture — that is to say, yaoi fangirl culture), but that’s the target audience, so whatever. Join our confounded hero Taiga, who has finally met Yuiko, the girl of his dreams, only to discover she has a dastardly secret: she’s a raging otaku! Taiga’s sure he can handle it for the love of his life, but little does he know what he’s signed up for. It’s not long before he’s been manipulated into installing dating games onto his computer and writing a yaoi fanfic for his lady, who is the sort that seems more interested in imagining him in some kind of tryst with his best bro than keeping him for herself. This behavior sounds almost terrifying, the stuff of nightmares, except for the part where it’s about as real as your face and the pimples on it. Not that anyone writing this article might be of that ilk. No, that would be absolutely ridiculous….
Not that all manga chicks are rabid, crazy fangirls. Some of them are rabid, crazy martial artists instead! Like in Sumomomo Momomo, an action comedy that revolves around Koushi Inuzuka, once the son of a great martial arts clan, now a peaceful law student instead. Too bad that Momoko, the last daughter of his family’s rival clan, has set her eyes on him: her biological clock has gone off and she needs to bear a strong, male heir to carry on her family’s bloodline ASAP. Sumomomo Momomo (the title is a spoof of a Japanese tongue twister about plums and peaches) is definitely in the shonen genre, so it’s not quite so lacy and frilly, but it’s still, at the end of the day, a pretty entertaining romantic comedy about the trials and tribulations of courtship. It’s always a nice change to see a story where the girl is the one persistently questing for the affections of a guy (instead of mooning over him hopelessly or being an unattainable tsunade sort), and what’s nice about Sumomomo Momomo is that Momoko’s personality is balanced pretty nicely between Chun Li-style ass-kickin’ and shy, blushing bride. (Warning: moe alert!) The manga feels a lot like Ranma 1/2 in that respect, but such a comparison is never a bad thing!
So give it up for the ladies of manga, and find the perfect girlfriend today!