Monday, March 02, 2009

Manga Monday: Magic Touch

Magic Touch (Volume 1)
Izumi Tsubaki
Magic Touch is a new manga that follows Chiaki Togu, a shy girl who lets people around her bully her, especially her twin sister Sayaka, but is enthusiastic when it comes to massage. When she notices a male student with an extremely tense back on the bus during her morning commutes, she aches to knead those muscles, to the point of coming out of her shell to ask the boy, who turns out to be ladies' man Yosuke Moriizumi, if he will allow her the privilege of a massage. From there, it's your typical shojo manga, with betrayals, misunderstandings, a realization of feelings for one another, etc. Despite falling headlong into the tropes of the genre, I was really with this book for most of the duration. The premise is different enough that it works for me and I enjoyed spending time with these characters and the rest of the goofy troop of massage students. I will say that Tsubaki's strength lies in her telling a story in the moment though, because she seems utterly incapable of building much tension or suspense throughout this book. Any rivalry or confusion that is set up is pretty much resolved within a dozen pages, which just baffles me. In some cases, it's even a little anticlimactic, like when Sayaka poses as Chiaki to win Yosuke's affections. Sayaka adopts her sister's name when dating so any repercussions fall on Chiaki. In the case of Yosuke, someone close to him was dumped horribly by Sayaka, so his interest in Chiaki lies in revenge. As soon as we realize his intentions, Sayaka does her thing to try to trick Yosuke into dating her and he sees right through her immediately and the misunderstanding is immediately put to rest. But...that was a really cool idea and it didn't play out or really pay off! It's sort of frustrating. But I still did like the story in the moment. It's more when I reflect on a certain chapter that I feel really cheated. The one part of this book that I really did not like however, was the chapter dedicated to a completely different character in the massage club that randomly shows up in the middle of this volume. I was wondering if the focus was going to permanently shift this way, bouncing between different members of the massage club or what, and was just distracted throughout this story, impatient to see if the story would return to Chiaki and Yosuke (which it did). I don't really understand Izumi Tsubaki's writing, but her art is very pleasant from the first page to the last, and when I'm in the moment, I am engaged. I hope to see her try to prolong what she's trying to make her readers feel in future works, but for now, Magic Touch is a fun place to lose yourself.

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