Category: series review

The Cutest Shojo Manga I Have Read

Posted February 13, 2018 by Kim in manga, series review / 0 Comments

So Cute It Hurts by Go Ikeyamada
Series: Kobayashi ga Kawai Sugite Tsurai!!
Publisher: Viz Media LLC

The Kobayashi twins, Megumu and Mitsuru, were named after historical figures, but only Megumu has grown up with a taste for history. So when Mitsuru is in danger of losing his weekends to extra history classes, he convinced his sister to swap clothes with him and ace his tests! After all, how hard can it be fro them to play each other?

But Megumu can’t rely on just her book smarts in Mitsuru’s all-boys, delinquents’ paradise of a high school. And Mitsuru finds life as a high school girl to be much more complicated than he expected!

When it comes to shojo manga, most of the time I don’t expect insightful social commentary and I have to ignore logical reasoning. What this series does offer, however, is pure romance – the kind you can throw yourself into and just be swept along for the ride. So Cute it Hurts is a story about love in it’s purest idealistic form, which was a welcome change of pace from the heavier hitting stuff I’ve been reading. Plus, the art is adorable, even if the human bodies aren’t always proportional.

It’s the classic innocent girl, this time with the added layer of being a history nerd, meets traditional bad boy (now with an eye-patch, a mysterious backstory, and ridiculously good fighting abilities.) There’s also the brother, who is proficient in kendo, looks feminine, and is a tried and true ladies man. We’ll follow his unexpected encounter with a girl who can’t hear.

But it all begins with a bad grade. A lot of bad grades. So many failing marks that Mitsuru Kobayashi is in danger of remedial classes.

Luckily for him, his sister has developed a fondness and talent for history. With a bit of haggling, a dash of taking matters into his own hands, and a wig left in unwilling hands, Mitsuru has Megumi take his make-up exam by cross-dressing as him in an all boys high school.

I didn’t realize it until the mangaka mentions it, but the girl on the cover is actually Mitsuru pretending to be his sister.

The Things I Can’t Ignore

Volume One

  • A teacher coming onto a high school student while other students look on in jealousy. Really? Contact authorities, instead, would you?
  • I have no idea why two seemingly loving parents would ever enroll their son into a yanki high school
  • You can’t even claim they might not have known because, what, they never visited Akechi Boys’ High? It’s definitely for plot convenience, just as Megumu goes to an all girls school, but Megumu gets chased until she almost stops breathing her first day.

Volume Three

  • Aoi only using 10% strength is unrealistic
  • We don’t hear anything about black belts or training, so has Aoi just been a secret special ops agent since he was three?

Volume Six

  • Uesugi fighting Akechi yanki and knocking three guys with the wind from his punch??
  • Also his arm stretches like 1000 feet

Particular Things I Liked

There are aspects of the story that Go Ikeyamada includes that I don’t commonly find in shojo manga and really enjoyed, like sign language. Granted, these days I usually only skim through shojo one-shots before I move on, satisfied with my romantic fix, with my day. I usually prefer to marathon shonen manga.

Volume One

  • A girl who is deaf is a center character in the story
  • Megumu moves her brother up to the third strongest student in Akechi by pure luck

Volume Two

  • When Mitsuru switches back to going to his own high school, he addresses Aoi as Satchan, which was a nice touch of consistency. It was established earlier that his high school uses silly nicknames for the seven strongest students

Volume Three

  • Megumu is quite brave and she endures things while keeping her smile

Volume Four

  • I love how Aoi is so in love with Mego’s geekiness on their first date

Volume Six

  • The timid bird who falls in love with Uesugi, even though he turns out to be a brute, is so cute

Is this a perfect, groundbreaking manga series? It isn’t. It’s a story that demands a particular type of mood, and for me, that is when my hopeless romantic side inevitably peeks out. Go Ikeyamada takes old tropes and breathes fresh air into most of them, from the cross-dressing twins to the tsundere bully. The story is split into two: one half documents Megumu’s first love and the other follows Mitsuru’s adventures.

I thought that I would immediately be attached to one story and begrudgingly read the other, but I found that I often flip-flopped between which twin I wanted to follow more. When Megumu’s tears got to be a bit much, Mitsuru’s headstrong attitude and selflessness balanced it out.

Most of all, however, So Cute it Hurts is fittingly named. I enjoyed all the gushy stuff and cross-dressing antics, but the story is extremely unrealistic. It’s exaggerated and perfectly suited for Valentine’s Day, but too much of anything extremely sweet can become exhausting for me. I had to take a break at volume six, because the farther you read the more preposterous the story gets. It’ll be all kinds of wide smiles and warm butterflies to return to this series in the future though. After all, there’s nothing better to indulge in than adorable twins who by a not so magical, author controlled fate, end up falling in love for the first time.

Rating Report
Characters
3.5 star rating
Plot
3.5 star rating
Writing
3.5 star rating
Pacing
4 star rating
Overall 3.63 stars

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