Wednesday, September 15, 2004


Today's manga corner covers something light for a change. Majihen!? vol. 1, by Miki Toriyama (the title is an abbreviation of "majikaru henshin," or "magical transformation"), is an odd book. I haven't read it yet, but it's pretty clear what's going on. In the opening chapter, Ichika, the heroine, is thrilled when the boy she has a crush on visits her house. But her joy is considerably tempered when virtually the first thing he does upon arrival is try to feel her up. She's even more dismayed when her boyfriend and her younger brother somehow exhange personalities, so that her boyfriend is now in her brother's body, and permanently ensconsed in her house, where, undaunted by considerations of possible incest, he fondles and licks her breasts at every opportunity. Ichika's usual response to this is not to clobber him a la Love Hina, but merely to turn red with embarrassment and/or arousal. Meanwhile, her brother, in her boyfriend's body, is living in her house too, adding further complications. All this is a comedy, by the way, presented as a series of four-panel strips.

It must be admitted that the above is not too unusual for a manga, though it's not the sort of manga I usually cover. What makes the book strange, at least to American eyes, is that it's a girls' manga. The strips originally appeared in Shoujo Comic, an anthology for girls, and the book appears under the imprint "Flower Comics," which is a line of girls' manga. I've seen other shoujo manga with nudity (though no genitals), and even discreet sex scenes; but in those instances the nudity and sex are part of a romantic plot, not used as a running gag as they are here. If I had only the strips themselves to judge by, I would have taken them for a seinen (young men's) title, though they differ from a seinen sex-oriented strip in at least one respect: the heroine has very small breasts

Nor does the book's packaging conceal the sex-oriented nature of its contents; in fact, it highlights it. The front cover shows Ichika with her blouse partly unbuttoned, so that her bra is visible. In the background, portions of panels from the book can be seen; in some of these Ichika has the flushed face, open mouth, and closed or half-closed eyes which indicate of arousal. Above the title is a "teaser" line in Japanese; with my imperfect knowledge of the language, it's a bit difficult, but it means something like "incomparably etchi (sex-crazed) group small breast 4-panel." The back panel is even more explicit, showing Ichika's boyfriend simultaneously licking her face and fondling her naked breast. In one of the background panels, he's fingering her panty-covered crotch. Toriyama has another series out, called Tsunami chuuihou ("Tsunami Warning"); judging by the covers, it appears to be the same sort of thing.

The book is 189 pages long and sells for 390 yen; its ISBN is 4-09-138601-6.

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