Cactus's Secret Vol. #01 (Mania.com)

By:Julie Opipari
Review Date: Saturday, July 03, 2010
Release Date: Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Falling in love is never easy, especially if it’s with an idiot.

Creative Staff
Writer/Artist: Nana Haruta
Translation: Su Mon Han
Adaptation: Su Mon Han

What They Say
Falling in love with a clueless boy would turn any girl into a cactus! Miku decides to try telling Kyohei her feelings by giving him chocolates for Valentine's Day. But Kyohei, unaware that he's the object of her affection, offers himself up as a practice partner for her love confession. Can Miku get through to him that he's the one she loves?

The Review!

Technical Review:
While the cover doesn’t scream “Read me!” it does feature a cute illustration of Miku careening out of control on a scooter.  It matches her out of control relationship with Fujioka perfectly.  The colors don’t really do the cover justice, though, and the shades of red and pink don’t stand out much.  The interior pages had several instances of smudges, where letters were smeared because of too much ink.  The interior artwork is engaging and expressive, with a lot of focus on Miku’s ever changing emotions.
 
Content Review:
Ugh!  What is a girl to do when the boy she loves is a socially inept dunderhead?  Nursing a crush on a gorgeous guy since middle school is hard work, especially when you decide to make yourself over, all in hopes of attracting his attention.  Never mind that that he might not be worth all of the effort!  Miku works tirelessly to transforms herself from a Plain Jane into one of the prettiest girls in her class, but she still can’t get Fujioka to notice her.  Talk about frustrating!
 
While I was reading Cactus’s Secret, I couldn’t help but wonder why Miku stuck to her guns and kept chasing after Fujioka.  They have been classmates since middle school, where he was a rebel with dyed hair and a group of troublemakers for friends.  He’s remade himself, too, and  kind of faded in the background for high school, but Miku is still spellbound by his dazzling good looks.  To make matters even more complicated, she gets stuck sitting next to him every time they have their seats reassigned.  While delighted at first, she quickly wishes the floor will open up and swallow her whole? Why?  Fujioka is one of those clueless people who just says whatever comes to mind, regardless of whether or not it will hurt someone else’s feelings.  When he makes a derogatory comment about her make-up, which she applies pretty much for his benefit, the battle lines are drawn;  Fujioka is an idiot and Miku doesn’t know what to do about it.
 
Most of the book has Miku trying to catch Fujioka’s attention, Fujioka inadvertently insulting her, and Miku lashing out at him, either with some angry words or a kick or punch.  After about the second chapter, I started to wonder why she bothered.  He has the emotional depth of a used tissue, and theirs would hardly be a match made in heaven.  Fujioka is the kind of guy who floats aimlessly through life, underachieving in school, but looking oh so handsome while he barely manages to scrape together the grades to advance to the next year.  He reminds me of nail polish; he’s all sparkly and fun to look at, but he’s chipped around the edges.  I don’t think it’s his fault that he’s so dense, though he irritated me anyway.
 
Now, while Fujioka has the social skills of a recently hatched caterpillar, Miku just rubbed me the wrong way.  She is supposed to be a smart young woman, she understands that Fujioka must have been absent the day they handed out interpersonal skills, leaving him with none, but she still gets pissed at him every time he makes an offhand comment.  Sure, the things he says can be hurtful and stupid, but he doesn’t realize that they are hurtful and stupid.  Miku quickly catches a clue that she isn’t dealing with the brightest sparkler in the box, but she still gets all worked up every time that they have a conversation.  Fujioka is obviously a dunce when it comes to emotions of the heart, so Miku just needs to tell him, straight out, how she feels about him.  In words that even Fujioka could understand.  But because she likes getting pissed off for the first 175 pages or so of the book, she  keeps her feelings to herself, but vows to never give up on him.  Even though he is an idiot and makes her see red.  As in 
with rage, not love.
 
Only the introduction of another hottie near the end of the volume perked up my interest in the title.  Smart and one of the most popular guys in school, Natsukawa seems to have taken an interest in Miku.  Maybe the competition will spark some kind of reaction out of Fujioka? 
 
In Summary:
I found Cactus’s Secret to be a bit of a trial.  I didn’t connect with the characters, and I found it difficult to believe that anyone could be as dense as Fujioka.  Or that Miku would continue to chase after him, even though he is obviously making her unhappy.  I found their behavior trite and unconvincing, and just couldn’t get caught up in the story.  I kept questioning why Miku would continue her fruitless pursuit of a guy who needs everything spelled out in black and white, and would more than likely forget important dates like birthdays, anniversaries, and even White Day, making her even more miserable.  I do have to admit that I am curious about the next volume. I hope the series isn’t four volumes of constant bickering.


Mania Grade: C+
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B-
Text/Translation Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 9.99
Pages: 978-1421531892
ISBN: 192
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Cactus Secret