August 29, 2011

I Am Also Unsure What Prunus Refers To.

I don’t have a separate tag for manga, so I guess anime will do. Does anyone care about my tags anyway? Who knows.

Anyway, Mightyblue on Talking Time mentioned this manga called Prunus Girl. His short description was “sort of a romance/slice of life between a guy and a trans/crossdressing guy without being overbearing or stereotypey about it.” Because I am incredibly predictable (but I mean seriously, let’s face it. We all like reading stories about ourselves, right? Is it really weird that I want to read a romance that involves a transgendered person?) that was more than enough to make me check it out. I hadn’t read any manga in a long while, so why not?

I really don’t know what to think about it. I don’t think it’s really all that great, but at the same time I read the majority of the comic in one non-stop sitting, so it kept me engaged on some level. Though not in the way it seems to engage random people talking about it on the internet, if Google searches are any indication. It seems to be a lot of debating if Aikawa, the transgendered character, is really male or female. He certainly teases about that fact a lot during the comic, but the fact remains: he tells everyone he’s male. Thus, he’s male. The fact that he’s very feminine and always wears female clothes doesn’t really change that. In any case, I could really give a shit about that sort of thing, though I would feel a bit disappointed if they finally got together and Aikawa WAS physically female, AND just shed being a man completely. It would sort of make Maki’s character arc of coming to terms with his feelings for a guy a really fucking moot point, and that’s all the story really has going for it. I guess Aikawa could be physically female, but a transsexual man, without me feeling cheated in that way, but goodness, I don’t know if this author could even attempt to handle something like that in an intelligent manner. But we’ll get to that later. Point is, Aikawa is a man and it’s dumb to debate it.

Even saying all that, though, I must admit I don’t get Aikawa much at all. I don’t understand why you’d go through all the trouble to look female (and it is a fucking lot of trouble) and then tell everyone you’re male. Granted, this is because I’m me, trying desperately to look female but still keep my look. He passes with ease, and I’m jealous and shocked he kind of throws it away constantly. I find it difficult to push through that and understand the whys behind what he does. Then again, maybe there’s nothing to break through and see. Maybe the whole thing is being played for laughs and that’s all I’m supposed to take away. But there’s hints of depth in the characters and the scenario, so I don’t want to believe that.

In general, the comic feels like it’s being created without a plan, though, which is a shame. There’s a lot of genuine drama you could bring out of this scenario (not necessarily doom and gloom persecution stuff, but more the fact that this DOES complicate a relationship. You could explore that. That’s one of the things Wandering Son does so well.) and a lot of it is left on the table so that the story can include more super generic romantic comedy antics. There are too many scenes where something is set up that would work with any romantic comedy couple, but not with this one because of the whole transgendered thing. But the problems with it are literally written off in a throwaway panel of “I don’t care, let’s do it anyway,” which really hurts the whole thing. The biggest example of this was a water gun fight, where one team was trying to get Aikawa’s white shirt wet so they could see his breasts. But he’s a guy, and the horny guys trying to do this know it. But they just say, “Eh, I still want to,” and they’re off. It’s like the author had a silly idea, realized it wouldn’t work, but just did it anyway. I’m not necessarily against wacky romantic comedy happenstances, but at least understand your own gimmick, author.

It also just falls into that trap that bothers me more and more when I read this sort of “romantic comedy genre” stuff. The “tension” supposedly leaves if the main characters actually get together. But it’s stupid they don’t. I kind of felt this in Sasameki Koto, but that was more feeling like characters were stupid for not just being honest, as opposed to stupid for them not being together. A bit different. In Prunus Girl, it was them basically going on dates, spending all their time together, and so on, but Maki won’t call it dating because that would “ruin” things. It’s so stupid. They like even go on a fake date for shenanigans at one point, and Maki notes that THIS IS WHAT THEY NORMALLY DO WHEN THEY’RE TOGETHER. THEY NORMALLY GO ON DATES. But he won’t call it that, noooo. It’s such an artificial thing. It keeps the characters from growing because they are stunted by this stupid decision to keep this “tension” going between them. There’s plenty of tension to be found if they START dating! Use writing! Bleh.

Anyway, yeah. Can’t recommend this one. There’s no planning to it, no real overall arc to be found here. I suppose I have read worse manga (yeah, yeah, I have) but still. There’s probably a better way to spend your time.

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