Title: Minimum Queen
Author: KAMURA Youko
Ribon Mascot Comics, 2003
Here is a cute and sweet set of one-shot stories from an author who has produced a great collection of one-shot volumes. These stories were originally published in Ribon or Ribon Original magazines, so the target age is a bit younger than some of the other stuff I have summarized lately, but it is nice to read a variety of stuff! Because of the younger target, the stories can be simple, and they aren’t smutty, but there are lots of “Awww!” moments, that makes this volume irresistible to me. The art is clean and attractive. This is just a sweet, fun read. This book contains 4 stories.
The first story features, as expected, your couple from the cover of the book. Just like another book I summarized this week, this one also begins with a love confession. (In fact, this is the 3rd book I have read this week that begins with a confession. I think I need to add this to my Common Shoujo Manga Plot Devices section…) Anyway, our heroine, Ariko, is being confessed to by a very adorable boy named Yukinari. He is cute and earnest, but Ariko turns him down. Why? Well, he is a new transfer student. He has only been in their class for 10 days! He doesn’t know her at all! This is obvious when he mentions how adorably cute and small she is, and how kind and friendly, etc. Yeah, he obviously doesn’t know her well yet.
Yukinari can’t understand why Ari-chan is rejecting him, but he doesn’t give up. Even when he learns that Ari is not exactly the cute gentle flower he thought she was. Actually, she is just the opposite. In spite of her tiny size and cute looks, Ari is strong and tough, and she is often beating up students much larger than she is. She defends people who are being bullied, and is not afraid to get in there and use her fists. Usually this side of Ari’s personality scares away any boys, but Yukinari only finds this side of her to be even cooler! He thinks she is great! However, he is a normal, almost wimpy boy, so how can he match up so such a strong girl?
Story 2 is about a bright and energetic girl named Suzuna. It is the start of a new school yeah, and Suzuna proudly introduces herself to her new class, proclaiming that she absolutely loves strawberries (‘ichigo’)! When she takes her seat again, the really cute boy sitting next to her stands up to introduce himself tells everyone his name is… Ichigo. Oh wow! Suzuna is in heaven. Ichigo are her favorite thing ever. Everything she owns has strawberries on it (her bag, her school supplies, etc.). She has never met a boy named Ichigo before, but her affection for strawberries makes her very interested in him, too! As for Ichigo, well, he is NOT thrilled to be sitting next to Suzuna. He HATES strawberries, hates his name, and doesn’t want to have anything to do with her!
Next up is my favorite story in this volume. It stars a girl named Futaba-chan who is an average, friendly girl who likes cute things. She herself is reasonably cute, but not in any particularly amazing way. There are lots of girls in her class much cuter than she is, including her best friend Shina-chan. Futaba is more interested in cute things like Shina-chan and cookies and other girly stuff, than in looking at any of the boys in her class. They don’t impress her much. That is, until she lays her eyes on Enami-kun. Oh wow. He is CUTE. seriously cute! Prettier than most girls even! Futaba is instantly smitten!
However, it looks like most of the girls in her school are in love with him too, as he has to fight off the usual hordes who are trying to give him presents, home-made lunches, and baked goods. As for Enami, he is generally flustered by all the attention he gets. He puts up with it, until he finally snaps and proclaims that he is not interested in any girls who are not cuter than he is! Woah…. well THAT does the trick in thinning out the number of girls around him. What is with this guy, is he really such a narcissist? Poor Futaba is crushed. There is no way she will ever be cuter than Enami-kun is. In fact, it looks like the only girl at school who really matches up with him is… Futaba’s best friend Shina-chan. Oh no…
Finally, we have a story that reminded me of the manga “Lovely Complex”. This is a story about the junior-high years of a very odd couple. They are Ichika, the tallest girl in the class, and Kanata, the shortest boy in the class. There are 24cm separating their heights. She towers over him! However, they still somehow become friends, and get along great. Everyone around them thinks they look like some sort of comedy routine couple, but they ignore the comments. Ichika really likes Kanata. He is outgoing, tries hard in sports and does a great job in spite of his short stature, and he doesn’t seem to mind hanging out with Ichika even though she is so tall. But how does he really feel about her? Could it ever develop into something more romantic? Ichika is falling for him, but he seems to only be interested in girls shorter than him!
At the very end of the book is a hilarious 3-page special comic featuring all the characters from the stories meeting together. There is a chart that lists the heights of all the characters. It discusses the meaning of the book title, “Minimum Queen” and how It basically means Ariko is the Queen of being small out of all the girls. She, of course, tries to defend herself, saying that Kanata is just as short, and is therefore the “Minimum King”. Kanata, prickly about his height, is not thrilled by this. When Futaba sees Ariko, Kanata, and Sachi (the three small and cute people from this book) standing together, she thinks they are all so adorably cute, that if they had just one more cute member, they could be like MiniMoni, one of the super-cute all-girl idol groups (like Morning Musume). They all take a moment to think who their fourth member could be, and the next thing you know, Enami-kun is running for his life. Haahaha 😀