Monday, April 26, 2010

Manga Monday: A Secret

Cactus's Secret (Volume 1)
Nana Haruta

Cactus's Secret is a new shojo manga release from Viz, who have turned out a lot of great manga over the years.  Unfortunately, this title isn't one of their strongest.  Cactus's Secret follows a girl named Miku who has a secret.  It's not the most original secret - hardly anything about this book is original - she merely has a crush on one of her classmates, a gorgeous, but clueless boy Kyohei, whom she has the luck of sitting next to in class (even when the seats get rearranged, it seems that destiny favors her).  And Kyohei seems to genuinely like her, which is why she eventually summons up the courage to confess her secret to him, but Kyohei is pretty dense, and her hints and confessions are misinterpretted at every turn, frustrating Miku to the point where she lashes out at him.  Which is when she gets called a cactus by Kyohei, because she's acting "prickly" toward him.  Actually, he calls her a "cactus alien," which would have made a better title.  But this book is about as frustrating as Miku's ordeal.  The same scenario seems to play out over and over: Miku says something about her feelings, it doesn't connect with Kyohei who says something boneheaded, and she yells at him again.  This scene plays out over and over, getting pretty old pretty fast.  Meanwhile, it seems that we relive the same thoughts in Miku's mind just as frequently, like Haruta didn't really have enough of a story (which is pretty apparent) to keep this series going for long without stretching it out.  It doesn't make for a pleasant reading experience, especially since there's nothing to the characters beyond Miku's pining over this boy, and Kyohei's generic "kindness" and thickheadedness.  Only by the end of the volume do things change, but by that point, I've been exasperated for too long with too little characterization to really care all that much.  This book just has a very generic bare bones story, the type of situation that usually takes place in the background of the more interesting story of any other shojo manga.  Graft some pretty typical shojo art to that formula and this is what you get.  Check this title out at your own risk.

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