|This post is written by Gilimandra|
¦Shiraishi Urara takes the front cover of the first volume.¦
Title: Yamada-kun to Shichi-nin no Majo
Author: Yoshikawa Miki
Year Published: 2012.
Serialized in: Weekly Shounen Magazine (Kodansha).
Licensed in English: No.
Genre: Comedy Gender Bender Romance School Life Supernatural
Scanlation Latest Release: Chapter 27.
Status in Country of Origin: 2 volumes (on-going).
Demography: Male / Female.
Age Rating: 15+.
Rating: 8.5 / 10.
“Okay now you and Miyamura kiss again! And then with me again!”
“… Anyone remember who goes where…?”
“We better fucking get back to our right bodies!”
“I don’t think you understand what a school means, young man!” Sitting on a seat inside the teacher’s lounge is a spiky, black-haired boy who is getting an earful of scolding. His tie is loose, his uniform jacket unbuttoned, and a clear display of rudeness is evident as he exhales deeply and makes an absolutely bored-to-death face. Such defiant attitude clearly does not match up with an exemplary high school student image. The teacher then proceeds to point out what appears to be first semester mid-term results. In all subjects, the grades are so low-flying colors they can be safely classified as disastrous. One opening page is sufficient to strike an impression of a model delinquent.
Yamada Ryuu, a second year student of Suzaku high is notorious among the students. He has terrible grades, is a disturbance in class, arrives late and leaves early repeatedly. And to top it off, he gets into fights with students from other schools on a daily basis. There are also numerous complaints about him from fellow students. Simply put, problems all over his face.
On another note, at the bright side of the world exists little miss sunshine Shiraishi Urara. Her beautiful, blond long hair with curved end fluttering in the air radiates elegance. Her composed and quiet demeanor reflect her squeaky-clean records and a hint of overwhelming intelligence, which put her on top of the school’s mid-term grades. And all the boys are crazy over her delicious curves, inviting hips and voluptuous breasts. Simply put, an all-round idol.
These seemingly two disconnected lives are then joined by a very unusual meeting. At one point, Yamada slips off the stairs and coincidentally crashing into Urara who is walking behind him. They fall hard with a thud and become unconscious. The moment he comes to, Yamada found himself a pair of breasts and his little Johnny has vanished into thin air. While Urara, who is logically supposed to be in Yamada’s body, is nowhere in sight. After searching for some time, ‘Yamada’ is diligently studying in the class while keeping notes of every bit of the teacher’s lecture. Now the whole school is in for a big surprise.
¦What seems to be the problem, everyone?¦
At first, I was a bit reluctant to read another work from Yoshikawa Miki after her earlier work Yankee-kun to Megane-chan (shortened to YMC hereafter). Her initial manga starts high as a fun and engaging ride before crash-landing into a hugely disappointing open-ending. All the wait the readers have endured for twenty three volumes in the end, is left unpaid. It is a letdown, and a loss.
Despite all the past rage, I decided to give it a go anyway, and it turns out to be worth the time spent. The idea of bumping against each other and falling together from the stairs is not that original, as manga titled Again!! and a couple others also use the same concept. All the more true for swapping bodies of differing genders, an idea that can be said to have been used for numerous works within the past decade; Kampfer and Nyotai-ka are cases in point. But, it is the little touches that go far. Yoshikawa Miki uses recycled ideas in a very smart way with element of playfulness and exuberance, resulting in a genuine entertaining romantic comedy, with bits of light drama every now and then.
In contrast with YMC that seasons itself with lots of fighting scenes, her current work is relatively ‘modest’ on action and weighs more to the exploration of Yamada’s supernatural ability. His ability, ‘swap’, allows Yamada to switch body with anyone he is targeting. The author makes great use of this ability, as moving with someone else’s body and acting as a different person makes Yamada able to explore in depth the personalities and the backgrounds of characters that are involved with him. It is here that the manga usually begins to take a tonal shift from comedy to a subtly serious drama.
For instance, the abrupt swap with Urara brings them to a simple realization, that although at a glance their lives seem to be contrasting each other, it is a matter of fact that the both of them are terminally out of a rose-colored high-school life. They have their own dire problems to deal with that prevent them from having such an enjoyable life.
Coming to an understanding, the two of them then somehow manage to solve their counterpart’s current problems, and by doing so, painting a brand new, positive images of themselves among their school peers. As a result, school has become a wee-bit more pleasant. Having experienced the benefits of such ability, Yamada and Urara decide to keep it as a little secret between the two of them. A delicious and kinda kinky of a secret, I must say, because they have to kiss with each other to be able to swap bodies. The girl and the boy would switch out every now and then, just for the fun of it. However, little do they know that such situation would not last long.
¦Oh yes, this, Urara, you have become much… errr… livelier?¦
¦Easy peasy, now if you would excuse me… oh I almost forgot that I am still in your body.¦
The complexity situated around Yamada gets thicker thanks to Miyamura Toranora, a student council member and strong candidate for the next presidency, who caught wind of Yamada’s ability and forces him to use ‘swap’ to aid him in solving cases around the school. And like the title suggests (“Yamada-kun to shichi-nin no Majo” literally translates into “Yamada-kun and the seven witches“), there is more than one witch in Suzaku High, each with their own distinctive powers. Without a doubt, Yamada, willingly or not, gets tangled with other witches while finishing whatever task he has at hand. Adding the fact that there is more than meets the eye about his own swapping ability, everything mixes into one big pot of hilarious mess. The feeling of anything-could-happen is clearly strong in this one dynamic piece of work.
¦Another witch’s power at work, lovey dovey atmosphere is in the air.¦
As usual, Yoshikawa Miki’s penned characters are vibrant and rowdy. They are all about as funny as they can be while merely being there. The exchanges between them seem blithely amusing and are so much fun, and in many occasion the punch lines hit home, inviting a few good laughs from the audiences’ seats. Even Urara, the most level-headed between all her friends, does gets off a few agreeably deadpan jokes.
While Yamada Ryuu’s personality appears to strikingly resemble Shinagawa, the male protagonist from YMC (the author seems to have a great fondness for rough, abrasive character with SPIKY HEAD), he is a little bit dumber than him. But that in itself is a good thing. Shinagawa and YMC’s female protagonist, Adachi Hana, come out as an odd romantic pair, mainly because both of them are dynamites and full of electricity. In short, they are rather similar with each other. On the other hand, in her latest work, Yamada’s explosive nature is greatly balanced by the cool natured, sometimes sharp-tongued Urara whose obsession with studying anywhere, anytime also makes for an amusing trait. The nice equilibrium that is achieved makes the both of them stand out as equally unique and interesting characters.
¦Yep, never a dull moment between them.¦
A fair amount of fan services exists, especially when Miyamura always tries to use every available opportunity to cop a feel out of Urara’s bombshell body. But clearly Yoshikawa Miki knows her limit, as the services fall nicely together with the advancement of the plot.
So far it has been an eminently fun journey, this bracing new work from Yoshikawa Miki has a playful spark all its own. It is likeable, it is serviceable, it is a blast. I do hope she will not be a party pooper by destroying her own great work at the end of the day, like what she did with YMC.