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A rude girl and an effeminate boy switch bodies and find that it might be a better fit for both of them in this crazy comedy:
Nanako Momoi is the belle of high school... as long as she stays quiet. Once she shows her true self, guys' dreams are shattered for she is a true tomboy. Akira Uehara has the looks and brains, but, unfortunately, his personality is so dull it overcasts a shadow, and nobody notices him.
One day, Nanako's grandfather comes up with a crazy invention, and Nanako and Akira trade bodies! She's his body, and he's in hers!
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I randomly picked this series up in the bookstore due to the slightly odd twist on the typical gender-bender and the fact that I (admittedly) like feminine boys (and Momoi's character design looked pretty, too).
This was the first of Ai Morinaga's works that I have read, and after reading it, she has become my favorite mangaka for comedy and parody.
Yup, that's right. PARODY.
While I know that everyone's mileage may vary, I would just like to point out some things about this series so that those of you looking it up on here and seeing all of the negative and somewhat misinformed ratings won't just throw away the chance to read a unique and funny manga.
Yes, it is a Shoujo. And yes, it is a gender-bender. But what I find so great about (whatever you want to call it seeing as there are three different legitimate names) My Barbaric Girlfriend is its satire.
There have been many interpretations, most of them revolving around how terrible and sadistic Momoi is (something I can't totally argue with), but after reading the entire series (I was lucky enough to find complete scans and translations), I'm pretty sure that Morinaga was trying to make some sort of statement.
In the manga the characters are so far-fetched (other than Shiina, perhaps) because they are meant to mock society. It even brings out what I found to be disagreeable things from the viewers. Even though Akira is separated from his family, his friends, and his old lifestyle and is completely abused by everyone around him (minus Shiina), people still say that he should just shut up and be happy with his life because "he's better as a girl." Well I would always ask myself what that even meant. Why does someone have to "act" either like a "girl" or a "boy?" It's kind of silly to put people in boxes like that...and I felt sad for the main characters (Momoi and Senbogi) for thinking like they couldn't be with the person they loved without having it be societally correct (as in a heterosexual relationship). People often complain about Akira's softness and Momoi's cruelty, but that's basically our faults for mandating them to be that way. Girls have to be cute and men uber-manly. I think the over-the-top-ness of the whole thing is pointing out that it DOESN'T have to be like that; there are an infinite number of ways to be happy.
But this is just my interpretation of the manga. Others can see it any way they like. But please read it with a grain of salt. Morinaga's works aren't meant to be typical in any way. They are parodies and meant to be whacky, crazy, and just what you DON'T expect. That's what's fun about this series. And for those who complain that it's too repetetive and that the characters don't develop at all...I just can't agree. Sure, it's episodic, but many successful manga and anime are (let's face it). And it's not boring repetition. The characters ARE well developed and there are even special chapters that delve into their inner psyches and pasts. Momoi and Akira DEFINITELY change over the course of the series (which is weird, given that they switched into roles that "suited them better" anyways), and there are a lot of scenes which show other characters' hidden insight and depth (despite the fact that people call Shiina stupid, she definitely has great moments of intelligence and knows those around her very well. Same with Senbogi).
And after (FINALLY) getting to see the end, I can honestly say that it's worth the read. Not if you're looking for some lovey-dovey romance, however (minus the ones that develop later on...but this is arguable). And for those that complain that there's to much homo-eroticism, I'd just like to point out that, while not exactly "girly," it IS a Shoujo. And there's not really any sexual action (other than for comedy), so it doesn't really distract from the story...or at least I don't think it should...for those that get uncomfortable from such things.
Ultimately I think Your and My Secret is about love (no duh). I guess the fact that sometimes we need to change our perspective before we can see the truth, and allow the ones destined for us a chance...
Please don't be discouraged and read it!
Postie: And...I'm sorry...but nowhere does it say that in a Shoujo the two main characters have to end up with each other. Shoujo simply means, a manga with girls as a target audience. ARE WE SERIOUSLY GOING TO ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO BE LESS CREATIVE!? IN THIS DAY AND AGE!? We need all the creativity we can get! If everything was just in formulas, then THERE WOULD BE NO POINT TO WRITING ANYTHING! WE'D ALREADY KNOW WHAT WAS GOING TO HAPPEN!!! <--- Sorry, major pet peeve, and no, I couldn't let it slide. ><
... Last updated on December 6th, 2011, 7:57pm
Fun, Crazy Gender-Bender
Most of the time it feels like I'm reading this manga with one eye open: part of me doesn't want to know what's going to happen next, but part of me does. Like jadetine said, it's almost embarassing for other people to find out you're reading it because of how absurd it is. The manga enjoys torturing poor Akira in every way possible, having a guy act out all the cliches that have ever existed in shoujo manga: the awkward first date, hijinks in a love hotel, being carried to the the infirmary, getting the romantic lead role in the school play, you name it. And yet, it's a fun title that will definitely keep you reading, although I'm dreading the ending.
Akira was such a failure as a man that I'd be sad if he doesn't get his opportunity to reedeem himself and they don't switch back in the end. Also, as a guy, Momoi is the epitome of a male neanderthal-type (stupid, violent, jealous, possessive, insensitive, sleeps with any girl willing, you name it). Sure, he's nice to Shiina, but that's about it. Does the world really need another idiot like this? As a girl, she was at least able to keep something of a lid on some of those urges. But as other reviewers have said, the two of them switiching back seems totally unlikely at this point. Rather, the manga would prefer that Akira end up with his male best friend and Momoi end up with her female best friend. I suppose if it ends that way it might be edgy and different, but both of them in their switched bodies are such gender stereotypes that I can't help but feel like instead of breaking gender conventions, this type of ending would be reinforcing them (like it's not OK for a girl to be agressive, she should be a guy instead, and it's not OK for a guy to be gentle, he should be a girl instead).
So I'm preparing myself to be totally disappointed by the ending, but I'll keep reading it anyway because it's pretty fun anyway.
... Last updated on May 28th, 2008, 7:39pm
whether you're comfortable or not
The first volume is pretty F'd up. Not the gender bender things, but the momoi that becomes Akira is really a horrible person. That in itself isn't the issue. But while reading the first volume, the joke just doesn't fit in. The things that happend to the male protaganist would be enough for someone to seriously commit suicide. His family is happy without him there, and his life generally sucks.
The joke starts to sink in after volume two so the enjoyment goes up. Though there was a point in volume 3 where I thought that a person would go pretty crazy. The male lead is such a wimp but it makes you wonder why he doesn't threaten to kill himself or someone else to get them to fix the machine.
Eh after awhile I guess you stop caring though. Though you wonder if the craziness reflects on the manga ka in anyway. The girl so easily switches to liking girls, constantly cheats on his gf(no self control), and supposedly guys are like that(She really is a horrible person).
Also there's not much reason to keep the secret here.
it's one of those mangas you read when no one else is around because it's so absurd and embarrassing at points, you don't want anyone else knowing that you're enjoying it- and that's the point: that it's hilarious fun! Art is pretty good and clean; eye-candy bishies are here and there; plot is not the best nor the worst; pace is a little shaky; comedy = definitely entertaining...
More humor than romance
I'm pretty sure Morinaga Ai is insane, in the good way of course. Both the story and characters are nothing to write home about, but if you are reading her work then you are really in it for crazy comedy. There's very little serious development and instead a lot of wacky situations and hilarity. Some people might get uncomfortable with the whole gender issues (which begs the question, why the hell are you reading a gender bender?) but if you can get past that, this is a very fun read.
If you are looking for straight romance or drama (or anything that stays serious for more than two pages), this might not be for you. But if you are looking for a laugh and cracked out manga, read it.
Stopped at Vol 3
I have so much hatred for Momoi, I cant even find any bad enough words to describe her. She is ruining this manga for me and I cant take this shit anymore. Akira should hurry up and confess to her (though I cant figure out what he liked in her anyways), so that the story can hurry and end. Momoi's acting like a child that takes another kids toy and refuses to give it back and frankely, she's one of my most hated characters as of now. Yeah, Akira may fit being female, but he was originally male, and thats HIS body. If she likes Shina, then she can still like her in girl form. If thats the way its gotta be then so be it.
The comedy with this is taken to far. It was funny throughout the first volume but starting dampening out by the 2nd. It doesnt HAVE to be this long!! I just wanted Momoi to take Akira seriously. I dont even care about the pairings anymore. I just want the story to end. I wont continue this until it's completely finish. Because then I can skip to the end and get this over with.
... Last updated on June 20th, 2011, 11:04am
One of the few great gender-bender comedies
First off, just because this is a "shoujo" manga doesn't mean that it has to be your typical school romance manga. If you're interested in a funny and smart manga however, then you might want to check this title out. Also, I have no idea why you would pick up a body-swap manga and ask for it to be "realistic". It says right on the back of volume 1, "a girl and a boy swap bodies!"
Keep in mind that Akira has been the only narrator so far. Before he ended up in a girl's body and afterwards, it's HIS thoughts that we're reading so he would probably be considered the main protagonist. That's rare enough for a shoujo manga and probably a good indicator of this manga's uniqueness. Some things in the story like the characters are intentionally exaggerated to make fun of gender roles/stereotypes. It reinforces gender stereotypes to an extreme in order to criticize them or just make you laugh. And I laughed a lot while reading this, more than I thought I would when I first picked up the volumes. This series is a lot smarter than its embarrasing title and girly covers may lead you to believe. I love it, it's like a surprise.
I've only finished the first 5 volumes so far but the Tokypop just released the 6th volume so I'll be reading that soon and possibly editing this comment in the future!
There isn't all that much story development but very good manga. As the love seems to be onesided, so I see a Momoi x Akira ending very unlikely at this pace. Rather I would like to see that they change back and they all break up (bad ending) or that they remain switched and where momoi x shiina and Akira x Senbongi. Those seem to me at this point the only natural and believable endings. A momoi x akira would simply be forced and unnatural.
I enjoyed it too, the plot is draggy at times, but Hey, i'm lovin' the story and humour anyway.. I do wish they stay switched till the end and momoi going out with akira, I don't really like senbongi, but maybe he's just puting an act so momoi tries hard to win akira back, haha..I'm gonna love senbongi if he really does that...
a TRUE gender bender
so it's already 7 volumes now, and i'm still on the edge of my seat.
there are a lot of criticisms going around but i beg to differ. here is my take on things.
romance and gender bender: this is a gender bender manga, so expect some same sex infatuations or whatever you call it. in fact, i praise this manga for being true to the genre, unlike most gender benders that are half-hearted. at least, in this manga, you can see that LOVE TRANSCENDS GENDER. and that it doesn't necessarily have to be a love between the two main characters. (this is the issue for some since they've been pushing for a momoixakira pairing. well i also would accept the idea.) let's be open minded, please. whether it's a girlxboy or boyxboy pairing, let's just accept which pairing prevails.
characters: momoi is a b***h.she gets on everybody's nerve. we all know that by now. but that's her personality. an exaggeration that was intended by the mangaka. akira is pathetic. girly beyond what a girl is. heck she's a disgrace both to men and women. nonetheless, an exaggeration that was intended. the mangaka is trying to poke fun at the stereotypes of how girly girls and arrogant boys behave.
plot: don't take things seriously. it is meant to be insanely ridiculous. if you're looking for realism or logic, this isn't the right manga for you. heck, don't expect to find it in any of ai morinaga's works.
comedy: more than the romance, i've been reading this because of the humor. ai morinaga is really amazing. she never fails to crack me up.
releases: this comes out in japan once in every two months!! no! i can't wait.
all in all, this is something i won't get tired of. XD