By Hajime Asano and NEET. Released in Japan as “Mayoeru Shitsuji to Chikin na Ore to!” by Media Factory, serialization ongoing in the magazine Comic Alive. Released in North America by Seven Seas.
Possibly the most frustrating thing about Mayo Chiki! is that there is a manga with some interest in it struggling to get out here. The story is not remotely going to be original, but it could at least be interesting, with some likeable characters and a healthy dose of humor. The humor, at least, is present, and one of the manga’s saving graces. But none of that really seems to matter, as the manga’s art and general mood seems to revolve around presenting young girls (in the classic moe ‘they’re 17 but look about 9’ style) looking humiliated in half-naked (and sometimes 3/4 naked) poses. And it kills any chance the story may have had of doing something with its cliches.
The basic premise of Mayo Chiki! reads like any number of the moe light novels that have come out in Japan recently, and been made into anime/manga/games/etc. Indeed, some of you may have read my reviews of I Don’t Like You At All, Big Brother!! and Haganai, both of which run in the same magazine and are cut from the same cloth. The premise is that Jiro, who is terrified of women (but extremely tough) due to his mother (a wrestler) and sister (just a sadist) beating the shit out of him every day, such that he gets a nosebleed whenever he sees a woman as a defense mechanism (his family stopped when they saw blood). School is his only refuge, but one day, in the bathroom, he accidentally walks in on the handsome yet cold Subaru, and notes he is wearing panties. In fact, it’s worse than that – Subaru is a girl. And no one is supposed to find this out on pain of death. Luckily, Subaru is more than just a handsome bishie trap – she’s also butler for the school’s rich princess, who turns out to be sympathetic – and sadistic. She blackmails Jiro into keeping their secret, and gradually Jiro and Subaru grow closer, despite everyone else now thinking the two of them are gay.
Yes, there was no way this would be fantastic or original given that premise. But it didn’t have to be all that bad. And as I said, the manga has some very funny moments in it, my favorite being the ‘secret memory manipulation technique’ which consists of hitting someone till they lose their memory. And there are some possible plot points of interest, especially given the hero and heroine have both lost a parent. But then you get the little sister turning out to have incestual feelings for her brother, I think simply because you can’t write a moe light novel without incest subtext anymore. And Subaru being tied up in bed with a ball gag in her mouth, supposedly to stop her from killing Jiro but more accurately to show the reader she is tied up and with a ball gag in her mouth. And the extras, which have a ‘I am holding a microphone with my mouth open’ shot, a ‘I am licking ice cream’ shot, and a 2-page spread of the cover, only with Subaru wearing only an unbuttoned men’s shirt.
I like some moe stuff – Haruhi Suzumiya, K-On!, Toradora. But I think my general feeling about moe manga with so many suggestive poses like Mayo Chiki! is that it makes me feel like a criminal when I read it. Certainly I don’t recommend taking this book anywhere near Canadian Customs. That said, I am me, and I’m sure that if readers can get past the art style and sleazy sexual poses, there’s a more interesting story in here crying to get out. And of course there’s the anime adaptation, which Sentai has released, so it has a built-in fanbase. I think I’m just tired of anything from Comic Alive, maybe.