Title: Kimi no Neiro
Author: FUKUSHIMA Haruka
Kodansha Comics, 2010
Along with teacher-student manga, one of my other favorite shoujo manga plot devices is cross-dressing. This is the first volume of a series that looks like it will prove to be highly entertaining as it progresses. The storyline involves some gender confusion and cross-dressing, and is very silly and fun. The story and art are by FUKUSHIMA Haruka, an author I like, and whose works I have talked about on here before. I have another series by her, Chocoreito, that I’ve been meaning to discuss here as well. I need to get to that soon. Anyway, This is another series running in Nakayoshi, a magazine aimed at young girls, so do not expect anything smutty to happen in this series. However, the art is extremely cute and the story shows promise.
It must be very difficult to be a girl in shoujo manga land. Sure, there are some good things – you are cute, you probably have cute teachers and go to a school with hot princely guys, etc. But there must also be a lot of difficulties. Yes, you are cute, but so are all the other girls around you. Even if a character is supposed to be average-looking, face it, they are always drawn cute. And those hot princely guys? Well, in shoujo manga land, it’s possible that they are even cuter than you are. So there is quite a lot of competition to face!
For our heroine, Akira, things are quite challenging. All her life, her family and classmates have commented on how she looks like a guy (a very pretty guy, but still a guy). Akira is tall, and has a sort of princely air that makes other girls swoon. This doesn’t exactly thrill Akira, who insists she is a GIRL, and wants to be treated like one. Akira has a crush on one of her classmates, a handsome guy named Suzuki-kun. Suzuki is popular and cheerful, and seems to like Akira well-enough, too. Well, he is taller than Akira, and treats her like a girl, anyway, so in Akira’s book, he is wonderful. A few years ago, Suzuki had told her that he likes long hair, so ever since then, Akira has grown her hair out long just to impress him and maybe get his attention.
When Valentine’s day rolls around, Akira is fluttery and nervous because she is going to give Suzuki-kun some chocolates (and maybe confess?). But while on her way to deliver the candy, she collides with someone. It is a girl, an extremely beautiful girl. She is petite, with huge eyes and long flowing hair. She is dressed in a fancy, sort of ‘sweet lolita’ type of dress with many frills. In short, this girl is exactly the type of girl Akira has always wished she could be. The girl is a bit cheeky, and grabs all of Akira’s chocolates intended for Suzuki, and gobbles them up before dashing off. The nerve! Akira’s opinion of the girl instantly changes from admiration to irritation.
She soon has even more reason to be irritated- when she finally finds Suzuku-kun, he is in the middle of turning down 2 other girls who are giving him chocolate. Even worse, the reason Suzuki gives for turning down the chocolate is because he is already dating someone- the very same girl Akira ran into earlier! The pretty, petite girl with the long hair…
Does this mean that all this time, the long hair Suzuki liked belonged to this girl? Was there any point in all her effort to look girly after all? It isn’t Akira that Suzuki likes, but that other girl instead! Hurt and heartbroken, Akira runs home. In a fit of depression, she grabs some scissors and chops off all her long hair, returning her hairstyle to her old ‘princely’ style.
Soon, it is April, and a new school year is beginning. Akira is now a first-year high school student. Thanks to her school uniform (which includes a blazer and tie) and her short hairstyle, Akira makes quite an impression on the female population at the school. Even though she is a girl, all the other girls sigh over how cute Akira is, and call her “Prince Akira.” She is very popular now. Of course, this isn’t exactly the kind of popularity Akira wanted, so she is quite embarrassed, flattered, and dismayed by it all. She’s even more dismayed when she once again runs into that cute girl from before. Hey, what is SHE doing here! Akira figured the girl would be going to the same high school as Suzuki. So why is she here?
And wait a minute… why is this girl being so bratty and confident? She rubs it in that Suzuki said he was dating her, and she seems to know that Akira cut her hair because she overheard them that day. Argh, how frustrating! The girl is up in Akira’s face, being bratty, and Akira pushes her away. The girl falls, and Akira stares horrified as the wig the girl is wearing falls off! It’s a boy! All this time, Akira has been upset over the long beautiful hair of a boy in a wig?!? See that pretty girl on the cover of this manga volume? That’s a boy!
So now Akira has to face the fact that even though she had decided to give up on Suzuki, she just can’t do it. It turns out that Suzuki is also attending the same high school (how surprising, Akira thought he was going to a different school!) And to make things more difficult, her rival for his affections is a crossdressing GUY! This crossdressing boy also seems to like Suzuki, and is determined to win him and prevent Akira from making any progress. What a jerk! Poor Akira has quite a challenge ahead of her! She has to tell Suzuki that he is dating a boy in drag! Will she be able to win Suzuki’s heart?