Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Since the last manga I read was a light comedy, I should have picked a more serious one to read next, but my base curiousity got the better of me. So here's Iya X Shite, by Miyabi Asami.

Ruho, a shy and studious girl (she looks like a high school student, but might possibly be a college student; to the best of my recollection the manga never explicitly says which), has never been in love, but wants to be. When she hears about a secret "therapy club" in her school she decides to seek help there. Unbeknownst to her, the club's services are for sexually unfulfilled girls, and the "therapy" it offers is sex. In the course of ministering to Ruho, the club's president and main "therapist," Wataru, touches her breasts. At this she goes wild with passion, ripping off his shirt and then going for his belt buckle, much to her embarrassment when she recovers. It turns out that this happens every time a boy touches her breasts. Wataru declares his determination to cure her of this condition, and since he claims it's the result of accumulated sexual frustration, his prescription is for her to have sex with him. He's turned off by her "attack mode," though; and while she gradually finds herself becoming attracted to him, she's reluctant to have sex with him (unless she's in "attack mode"). Therefore, they spend most of the book at cross purposes. In the end love, or at least lust, conquers all.

Sounds like a dopey sex comedy aimed at teenage boys, right? This is where the difference between American and Japanese popular culture becomes apparent: it's shoujo. It's not even josei (i. e. aimed at young adult women); it was serialized in Sho-comi (short for Shoujo Comics), which is a shoujo anthology. This is the same magazine that runs Majihen!? and Boku wa imouto ni koi o suru [Secret Sweethearts], though it also runs Absolute Boyfriend and Happy Hustle High, two series which are now being published in the U.S. and which are considerably less sex-centered, at least from what I've seen of them.

I will confess that Iya X Shite was a guilty pleasure for me. Its basic premise is ludicrous, its portrayal of relationships between the sexes is unrealistic, and it certainly doesn't present a responsible attitude towards teenage sexuality. Nor am I fond, in general, of romantic "heroes" who behave like jerks throughout most of the story, as Wataru does. On the other hand, there are few American-made books aimed at teenage girls, much less visual representations, acknowledging that girls get horny too. And in the end Wataru does accept Ruho's sexual aggressiveness.

The book's title is a pun. If you forget the "X" and read it as one word, it means "heal me." But if you read it as two words, it means something like "I hate it; do it," or "Stop! Do it!"

Iya X Shite is complete in one volume. It's published by Shogakukan, its price is 390 yen, and its ISBN is 4-09-138564-8.

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