Publisher: Viz Media
When you mention Romantic Comedies in both anime and manga, names like Toradora!, Nisekoi, Love Hina, and Golden Time are sure to come up. Some, like GE ~ Good Ending fly under the radar and become hidden gems that go unnoticed by most people, but even if they are popular or underrated, all romantic comedies try to Spice (& Wolf) things up from time to time.
That brings us to Go Ikeyamada’s So Cute It Hurts!! (or Kobayashi ga Kawaii Sugite Tsurai!! if you prefer the Japanese name). This series was initially published by Sho-Comi in Japan in August 2012 and is still running to this day!
We’re introduced to the main characters, Mitsuru and Megumu who happen to be twins. Their parents gave them names with historical meaning and as a result, the twins have grown into the implications of their names. Mitsuru is a boy who is into sports, mainly kendo, and he loves the ladies. He tries to hit on every girl in sight and often he succeeds. Megumu is a girly otaku and a major history buff. These twins are opposites.
One day Mitsuru fails a history exam and he cannot afford to fail again. He asks his sister to switch places with him so she can boost his grades. Megumu refuses but finds her uniform missing the next morning and decides to go to the all boys’ high school as her brother. The first volume tells the story of both siblings falling in love while masquerading as each other.
This was a highly entertaining read so far and volume one really sets the tone for what’s to come with the series. The comedy here takes a different form than most romantic comedies. Typically, the main character ends up in embarrassing situations either by dumb luck, or ignorance. In So Cute It Hurts!!, the situations seem more realistic. It has a very natural feel and flow to it that makes it just that much more believable. The only thing that you’d have to question is how others can’t really tell Megumu and Mitsuru apart; however, if you can suspend that facet of wonder while reading this volume, then you should find the story quite enjoyable.
I really liked how they depicted the different cultures of the all boys school versus the all-girls school. On one side of things, you have a social order structured in the most barbaric and cave man-esque fashion. The girls seem more civilized until you meet Azusa Tokugawa. She’s one of those popular trope characters who is still fun to love, but once you get to know her, you’ll find yourself saying “oh, another one of THOSE characters.” So far, Tokugawa seems like the only downfall to the series as she is just a cookie cutter-style character, but maybe she will fit in the series after all. We’ll have to wait and see.
I thoroughly enjoyed Volume 1 of So Cute It Hurts!! since it’s a light-hearted manga that doesn’t take itself too seriously. At first I had my doubts based upon the title; however, the title explains itself once you know more about the characters. The rough and tumble womanizer, Mitsuru, dresses up and pretends to be his sister. He describes himself as “so cute it hurts!” once he gets a glimpse of himself in the mirror. That statement was the turning point for me because that was when I began to fall in love with the characters. This manga doesn’t even require you to suspend your disbelief because it’s not asking you to believe anything. The cover alone lets you know that with the “(>_<)” and “lolololol” text floating in the illustration. This story is cute and that is all the author wants you to think. Why do I say this? Because it is really obvious that this could not really happen in the real world. Twins switching places is a common theme in television shows, novels, and movies. Ikeyamada is aware of this and is putting a fresh spin on it that shouts “this is ridiculous!” You realize that when Megumu ends up in a fight with #3 of the “Magnificent 7” while she’s dressed as her brother… and she wins… with missile launching headbutt to the crotch.
Josh’s Final Word:
This series looks quite promising. I am a fan of romantic comedies from the anime and manga world and it’s refreshing to see a manga take a different route than most Rom Coms that we see in this day and age. It seems that they are trying not to follow the standard formula here completely and that’s a good thing. Also, since we have two main characters in two completely different scenarios that are also tied together, it could open up the possibility for multi-layered stories and several different plot twists that can be both independent of each character or broadened to affect both of them. I’m really looking forward to future volumes of this series to see if they go that in-depth with it. Needless to say, if you’re a fan of this genre, I’d say that this is definitely worth your time!
Liz’s Final Word:
This looks like it will be a fun series to follow. I am interested in how long the characters can go until their switch is discovered. If both siblings are falling in love at the same time, certainly one of them is going to slip and reveal the switch. This opens up new possibilities: how will the school faculty address this? How will their friends react? Will their love interests reject them for lying about their identities? How are their bullies going to respond? The list of possibilities can go on for pages and it’s up to Ikeyamada to keep us on the edges of our seats. If you’re looking for a light-hearted read that doesn’t try to take itself too seriously, this is for you.
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**This item was provided for review.