Thursday, March 7, 2013


The best thing about my Lent project is that its kept me posting everyday, but as this is an art, comics and animation blog, I think it's time for me to inject some of those topics back into the blog. This week I was originally hoping to be doing a countdown of my five favorite comic book heroes along with fan art of each character but that's hit a bit of a snag so I'll be looking at my five favorite manga instead- not that I have anything against more mainstream comics, I just happen to have access to more manga than Marvel or DC right now and I'll be getting to the guys a little bit later.

Prunus Girl by Matsumoto Tomoki

To be completely frank, I never, NEVER thought a comic like this would be a comic I'd enjoy, let alone be in my top five. Prunus Girl is basically about normal guy Maki, who one day meets very cute, very feminine Kizuna Aikawa- who it turns out may or may not be a guy and their day-to-day school misadventures. Their's isn't the only controversial relationship either, all their friends have some type of unconventional love hang up as well, and the only one who seems to notice all this is Maki.  

This is the type of story you'd only find as a manga, I think, as most of the topics you'd expect to find as controversial, dramatic plot points in this comic are generally bypassed without a second thought. Maki being charmed by Aikawa's flirting? Turns out all the other guys in his school are jealous of him, even though Aikawa openly professes to be a guy (actually, the only reason to think Aikawa may still be a girl is all due to  some possibly ambiguous twists from the author). Maki explaining the situation to his parents? His mom's okay with Aikawa because he/she's cute. And so on.

When I started reading this story it was initially because of the art, which I found to be simplistic, clean and charming despite having more than a few instances of bad anatomy and perspective. I also somewhat expected to immediately be put off by the story since I'm straight and thought the story would be fraught with  melodrama I wouldn't be able to relate to. Instead,  what I got was a very nice romantic comedy which is funny, charming,  and not as alienating as I thought it'd be This is most likely because despite what Aikawa says about himself, the character looks, acts, talks and apparently sounds (according to the other characters) like a girl, making the main pairing in the comic an easier pill to swallow.  

Another great thing about the comic are the characters themselves. Both Maki and Aikawa come across as very likable with neither bringing unneeded drama or angst to the story. They just enjoy each other's company and the driving conflict of the story is Maki's reluctance to deal with how he feels about Aikawa. It also doesn't help that anything that would definitively put to rest the issue of Aikawa's sex is either obscured from view or the situation is interrupted- a regular romantic comedy plot device that serves to frustrate both the protagonist and the reader.

To be honest, this comic is not going to be for everyone, it does require you to keep an open mind and maybe step a little outside of your comfort zone. I did and I found it to be a rewarding experience and very enjoyable read. There's not really any explicit content to be found, but there are a few innuendo jokes scattered throughout the comic's 5+ volumes and some gags that are reused a few more times than maybe they should have been. Currently, it looks as though the end of the comic is in sight with some surprisingly straight forward developments in the last few chapters and if we are, in fact, reaching the conclusion of Prunus Girl, I sincerely hope the ending is a happy one. 

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