Man Who Doesn ™t Take Off His Clothes (novels) Vol. #01 -

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Mania Grade: B-

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  • Art Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 17 & Up
  • Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
  • MSRP: 8.95
  • Pages: 220
  • ISBN: 1-56970-877-0
  • Size: Bunko
  • Orientation: Left to Right

Man Who Doesn ™t Take Off His Clothes (novels) Vol. #01

By Megan Meinhard     November 16, 2006
Release Date: October 01, 2006

Man Who Doesn’t Take Off His Clothes (novels) Vol.#01
© Digital Manga Publishing

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Narise Konohara
Translated by:Kelly Quine
Adapted by:

What They Say
After leading anything but a fashionable collegiate life, Kaitani is entering his third year at a major cosmetics company. His boss is the Adonis, Fujiwara. Although any number of women have had their eyes on Fujiwara, Kaitani can't think of him as anything but an ill-mannered snob. Word around the office is that Fujiwara keeps his clothes on even when making love! Things start to heat up when the two clash over a marketing campaign for a new line of men's cosmetics.

The Review
A little bit more on the "attraction" side of the equation might have made this intriguing love-hate relationship even better.

The cover is white with a dark pink checkered background. In the middle, an uncharacteristically relaxed Fujiwara lounges with his shirt open and hair down. The back of the book is rather plain, with part of the checkered backdrop continuing below the blurb and excerpt. The binding of the book isn't as stiff as DMP's previous attempts, in that you can actually open the book without feeling like it will break in half.

There are four Shimizu illustrations included in this novel, one color in the front and three b&w interspersed throughout the novel. Though they aren't particularly exciting, Shimizu is definitely good at what she does. Her work has a delicate quality to it, mostly because she uses a lot of thin lines but manages to avoid much sketchiness or messiness. Her expressions are also excellent.

The translation was less stilted than DMP's other offerings. There's been a steady, but slow improvement over the course of this line. While there were a few typos and misspellings that stood out noticeably, the dialogue was much less stilted. There's obviously room for improvement--DMP has yet to quite strike the balance between good, but true to the original, prose--but if readability is what you want, this is the best of the lot currently.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Kaitani has the boss from hell. Fujiwara is cold, anal-retentive, a know-it-all, and has no problem critiquing everything from Kaitani's work to his personal hygiene! It doesn't help that Kaitani doesn't seem to take his work seriously. It was only through his uncle's connections that he even got the job in the first place, and while most of the workers in the mostly-female cosmetics company are willing to give him a break, Fujiwara isn't likely to do any such thing.

All that changes when Kaitani gets excited over the bottle design for the new men's cosmetics line the company is rolling out. The designer is an old friend of his from high school, and Kaitani rashly promises that his company will accept the design no matter what. When Fujiwara nixes the design, Kaitani becomes obsessed with proving him wrong. But even careful research and data fails to move Fujiwara, and in frustration, Kaitani decides blackmail is the only option left.

Fujiwara goes through women like most people do tissues, leaving broken hearts in his wake. Kaitani grows close to Fujiwara's latest ex and learns that Fujiwara is so embarrassed by burns on his back that he won't take off his clothes even to have sex. Kaitani decides to put a plan in motion that will allow him access to take pictures of the burns to blackmail his boss into accepting the bottle design. His plan is a success, but when he undresses Fujiwara, he finds absolutely nothing like burns on his back. After a close examination, however, Kaitani discovers the real reason Fujiwara is so afraid to undress in front of others.

Things quickly spiral out of control from there. While Kaitani does succeed in getting the decision reversed through blackmail, some bad timing on the part of Higashiyama (one of our protagonists from "Don't Worry Mama") leads to the misunderstanding that Fujiwara and Kaitani are in a homosexual S&M relationship. And that's just the tip of the iceberg...

Until about twenty-five pages from the end, the content grade for this book was going to be an A-. What's most surprising about this series is how genuinely funny and interesting to read it is, which is a good thing because it's noticeably light on any sort of BL undertones until those last few chapters. So why did the grade drop an entire letter?

Kotohara is fond of using a specific "turning point" in her series, where something happens between two characters to make them see one another in a different light. However, this series would have benefited from some foreshadowing between the two leads. For most of the book, all we get is how much the two protagonists like women. Even in scenes where she could very easily hint at attraction, Konohara instead goes in the opposite direction and reiterates how utterly disinterested they are in one another sexually.

This makes the "turning point", when it finally does come near the end, seem unbelievable. After hearing and seeing over and over again that these men A) have no interest in one another, and B) have much interest in the opposite sex, it's mystifying how we're supposed to be won over by a ham fisted aphrodisiac cliche. And while the humor was first rate in general, it's a bit beyond my ability to laugh at a date rape scene played out like a Three Stooges short.

The characters are individually great, and the chemistry between them is fascinating if only from an arch-enemy standpoint. Hopefully Konohara will be able to pull up from the downward turn this book took in the final half and deliver on the promise this series had in the beginning.


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