Title: Mishounen Produce
Author: ICHINOSE Kaoru
Japan: Hana to Yume Comics, 2009
The bright, cheerful, colorful cover attracted me to this book. Look at the stars! Rose petals! Shiny hair and smiles! I don’t buy as many Hakusensha/Hana to Yume titles in comparison to Shogakukan/Flower Comics because they don’t seem to release as many new series, at least not in comparison to the churn of Shogakukan. Or maybe my local stores just don’t stock as many of them. At any rate, I am always happy to find a new one to pick up, and this one looked adorable. And it IS adorable! The artwork is really pretty with a clean, detailed look that really appeals to me. I think this may be this author’s first book published for Hakusensha/Hana to Yume, and if this is how good she is as a beginner, she will definitely be an author I will look for more from in the futre. I really enjoyed this book. This is funny, because makeover stories aren’t exactly the most original, but there is something so darn sweet and warm and fuzzy about this book, that I just felt happy after reading it. Usually makeover stories involve a hot guy who somehow knows all about fashion, makeup, and hairstyling, taking a plain girl and making her fabulous. In this case, we have a reversal of that situation. Better yet, this is just volume 1, so there is at least one more volume of adorableness coming our way after this one. I can’t wait ^_^
Kaako and Kousei are childhood friends. They were born and raised out in the countryside, and were the only kids their age in their village. So naturally, they hung out together, and had a lot of fun exploring nature and getting into trouble. Kousei has always been a bright, cheerful, imaginative boy with an outgoing personality. He kept Kaako entertained with his great imagination and ability to find all kinds of slimy critters.
Now they are both high school students, and have just made a drastic change — they are attending school in the big city. This should be an exciting time for them, however Kaako is worried. Both she and Kousei are such country bumpkins. She really cares about Kousei and doesn’t want the city kids to make fun of him, or for him to be unpopular. This especially worries her after she overhears some girls make unkind comments about his clothes one day before school started.
So in order to insure her beloved Kousei has a successful high school career, Kaako decides she must make him over and turn him into the most popular guy in school. But how can she do this when she is such a bumpkin herself? Ahh, this will require some kind of guidebook or inspiration. And what better inspiration is there than shoujo manga? (Ah, a girl after my own heart lol ^_^) She decides to use Laurence to Bara (Lawrence and Rose) a hilariously long and melodramatic historical 70’s shoujo manga as her pattern for ‘producing’ Kousei’s new image. I love how, in modern shoujo manga, whenever a character is shown reading shoujo manga, it’s always a 70’s-style series 🙂 And Laurence to Bara is such a lovingly blatant parody of a typical 70’s shoujo manga (It has 98 volumes!). It has a princely heroic lead guy who sparkles and wears capes, and dazzles the poor heroine. It would be perfect if Kousei could be like him!
As for Kousei, he cheerfully goes along with Kaako’s plans. He has always lived to entertain her, and if this makes her happy, he’ll do it. (Awwww). So it is with delightful relish that Kousei assumes the personality of a princely type of character. He lets Kaako cut his hair, dress him, and coach him on how to make roses appear behind him (hey that is a seriously important skill for a shoujo manga hero!).
And the plan actually works! The gullible girls at their new high school are totally dazzled by the handsome Kousei. He is so suave, charming, and dashing! He quickly becomes popular and always has a group of girls around him, hanging on his every cliched word.
At first, Kaako is proud of her success. But, and I think you can guess where this is going, she soon begins to regret what she has done. Kousei is a bit TOO good at acting his part. He begins to really get into the role and even starts to improvise beyond the Laurence-type character. Instead of the pure, noble prince persona, he starts injecting a bit of hot, sexy idol boy persona into it. And the girls are lapping it up! Now that Kousei is a success, is Kaako too dowdy and countrified to be around HIM?
This story is so adorable. Now it’s obvious that Kousei likes Kaako and is doing it all for her, But is he getting a bit carried away? Is Kaako’s obsession with a shoujo manga hero a bit much? And what happens when another boy arrives who fits the Laurence persona even more than Kousei did? Someone who can also see beyond Kaako’s own country style and see the pretty girl behind the glasses?