Here is today’s quick review!
Your & My Secret, Vol. 1
By Ai Morinaga
Published by Tokyopop
This story could so easily be either stupidly fluffy or completely offensive, but it instead offers a fun, insightful look into traditional gender roles, teenage sexuality, and the precarious line between friendship and love. Both Akira and Nanako find that people respond to their personalities more positively in bodies of the opposite sex. Akira’s quiet sweetness and accommodating impulses, previously labeled as weak, are perceived as desirable, ladylike qualities when people think he’s a girl. Likewise, Nanako’s aggressive manner and bluntness are considered “manly” in Akira’s body, winning over even Akira’s parents who were apparently worried he might never become a man. The scene where Akira discovers this is honestly heartbreaking, even through the humor of it, and though it is fun to watch Nanako (who is obviously relieved by the sudden opportunity to be herself), Akira’s feelings add another level to the story that I very much hope to see further explored in the subsequent volumes.
Similarly, while it is wonderfully funny (funny because it’s true!) that the first things these characters think about doing in their new bodies is checking out their sexual organs (Nanako, of course, accomplishes this within the first few minutes), it also brings up the question of the potential consequences involved, particularly when Akira discovers that Nanako has robbed him of his own “first time.” Both characters find themselves romantically entangled with their (same-sex) best friends now that they are in bodies of the opposite gender, and that opens up a whole world of questions for each of them, though they both react very differently to the situation. Nanako barely stops to think at all as she barrels forward with her feelings in the moment, while Akira spends so much of his time feeling hurt that his best friend would go after the girl (or at least the body of the girl) who he openly crushed on that he pretty much ignores every other feeling aside from a few fleeting thoughts over what a good kisser Senbongi is.
Everything in the story has both the potential to be hilariously funny and shockingly deep all at once, and though the focus on humor keeps things enjoyably light, everything else is just there under the surface, promising rich things to come. Having rescued the series from ADV, Tokyopop has release four volumes of Your & My Secret so far, with the fifth scheduled for release in May. With so much promise in just the first volume, this is definitely a series I’ll be hurrying to catch up on!
jansong@livejournal saysApril 1, 2009 at 8:08 am
If this is a short review, how many words do you need before it is a long one? :)
Melinda Beasi saysApril 1, 2009 at 8:14 am
Oh… I don’t know. Heh. Well, technically this falls into my criteria for a “full length” review, but it’s shorter than most of the ones I put in that category by at least 200 words. Maybe I shouldn’t have used the word “short” though. :)
jansong@livejournal saysApril 1, 2009 at 8:33 am
Is “quick” the more accurate description? You are writing these “little” reviews quickly?
Melinda Beasi saysApril 1, 2009 at 8:59 am
Yes, that’s it. :) I’m writing them quickly without letting myself angst over them.
jansong@livejournal saysApril 1, 2009 at 9:00 am
And that’s a good thing. Hones your skills without pressure.
Melinda Beasi saysApril 1, 2009 at 9:01 am
Yes, that’s definitely the advantage to posting reviews in my own blog, where I feel like I can be more casual. I haven’t been doing that enough.
Grace saysApril 1, 2009 at 8:14 am
This is one on my list to read for sure. My experiences with “genderbending” manga are pretty much on par with fanfic’s “genderswap”. I always read hoping there will be something good, and there rarely is, but this sounds like it could be one of the few gems.
(Right now I’m reading Never Give Up!, which is definitely not. Though I am only on vol 6 of 13, so who knows, maybe it will turn around, or at least end on a slightly better note than it started out on.)
Melinda Beasi saysApril 1, 2009 at 8:15 am
I hope this one ends up being as good as I think it will be! I am already so far behind in it!
Michelle Smith saysApril 1, 2009 at 9:59 am
I read this back when it was an ADV release and hung onto that single volume all this time waiting for it to be continued somehow. Of course, now that I own volumes 2-4 I have stacked them in my to-read pile(s) and occasionally look at them admiringly, but that’s about the extent of it. :)
Melinda Beasi saysApril 1, 2009 at 10:27 am
Awww so you can’t even tell me if it stays good! :D
Michelle Smith saysApril 1, 2009 at 11:44 am
No, but both Connie C. and Kate Dacey like it, which is good enough for me! :)