Your and My Secret Vol. #01 (Mania.com)

By:Megan Lavey
Review Date: Monday, July 26, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, June 01, 2004



Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Ai Morinaga
Translated by:Kay Bertrand
Adapted by:

What They Say
High schooler Nanako Momoi may be petite and adorable, but she is far from sweet - she is obnoxious, violent and has the table manners of a wild boar. Akira Uehara, a dainty, feminine boy, for some mysterious reason, has developed quite a crush on her. After attempting to rescue Nanako from a mad scientist's peculiar experiment, the chilvalrous Akira finds himself in the most unlikely of places - he's now in the body of Nanako and she is in his! Akira, the now dainty and feminine female, is desperate to get his body back, but there's a problem - Nanako is starting to enjoy life as a guy!

The Review
Packaging:
Simple is key here with lots of white space. The picture on the front is Akira (as Nanako) holding Nanako (as Akira) with the logo placed discreetly across Akira's legs. The font works well here and it's a nice, clean cover. The only problem is that if you have dirty hands, you will leave smudges on it. The back has an almost scary picture of Nanako's grandfather, au natural except for an apron.

Artwork:
This is standard shoujo artwork with big, expressive eyes for the girls and somewhat large eyes for the boys. In fact, the eyes are almost too big for some people's heads. Other than that, it is an attractive book to flip through. The reproduction here is well, with solid blacks and good grey tones. The characters express both a range of emotion and movement well.

Text:
The text here unflipped and the SFX is subtitled. It's the first ADV title I've read in a long time that hasn't left in large blocks of kanji. It made the volume infinitely easier to read than other titles such as Chrono Crusade. While I applaud the meticulous work that ADV does in providing accurate subtitling to the SFX, they do take it a bit too far at times. Other than that, this is an enjoyable read with no excess slang or localization jumping out at me. There's a lot of sexual references thrown around in here, which will be a turn off for young readers.

Review (please note that contents of a review may contain spoilers):
Many people are familiar with Rumiko Takahashi's Ranma 1/2, when a boy doused with cold water turns into a girl, then turns back when doused with hot. Ai Morinaga takes the gender-swapping concept and gives it a unique twist. Thanks to an experiment gone awry, high-schoolers Nanako and Akira swap bodies.

In a sense, this actually works for them. Nanako naturally acts like a man and Akira acts like a female in a lot of cases. So, in a sense, some good is done when they swap their bodies. At least, Nanako believes so. Akira wants his body back and go home to his family. But, this is not the case as Nanko's goofy grandfather, who got them into this mess in the first place, goes on vacation to Hawaii.

For the most part, I enjoyed reading this book. It addresses the basic questions such as learning to use the restroom in another's body, Akira handling his first period in Nanako's body and Nanako losing Akira's virginity for him in his body and proceeds to turn him into a playboy. And people notice the change too. They see Nanako being the girl she never was and Akira being the boy that people wanted him to be. This causes Akira's best friend to fall for the "new" Nanako and a friend of Nanako's to fall for the "new" Akira. This leads to some funny situations, especially the last chapter of the book. Fans of Anna Miller's will greatly enjoy it.

Throughout it all, Akira holds onto his affection for Nanako, and it's something that begins to grate on me. Everyone is happy with the status quo except for him, and while I can see some of the negatives for Akira - such as not being able to be with his family - there's a lot more positives. I kept wanting him to stop whining about it so much. About the only advantage to this is that Nanako and Akira are starting to see things about each other that they couldn't before.

The job that this series needs to do is convince me that Nanako and Akira are better off in their original bodies. They both need to undergo significant character growth in order to do so. I'm hoping this will be a focus of future volumes, because right now, I would be perfectly happy if they remained the way they are forever. While the majority of the book focuses on the "newness" of having a new body, I can see some character growth coming down the line.

Comments
Right now, "Your and My Secret" is a bit underwhelming. It takes a good topic and approaches it in an interesting and realistic manner. While it's enjoyable to read, Akira's behavior nearly drove me to toss the book aside. There is enough in the volume that redeems it, from Nanako to several of the new situations that they get in themselves. But, this story has some work to do if it's going to convince me that Nanako and Akira are better off in their original bodies.



Mania Grade: B-
Art Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: ADV Manga
MSRP: 9.99
Pages: 192
ISBN: 1-4139-0143-3
Size: Tall B6
Orientation: Right to Left