Story/Art: Satoru Akahori, Yukimaru Katsura
What They Say
Being a girl is harder than it looks… For Hazumu, this couldn’t be truer, because just the other day, she…was a he. Shunned by the girl of his dreams, Hazumu loses himself in the mountains and is promptly squashed by an oncoming space ship. The alien inside, feeling guilty, rebuilds Hazumu’s body…but as the wrong gender! Now Hazumu must learn how to be the girl his parents always wanted while dealing with the trials and tribulations of being caught in a love triangle between two girls–his childhood friend, Tomari, and Yasuna, the girl who rejected him but is now strangely attracted to him/her!
The front cover maximizes the amount of space for the art by placing the book’s title in the center, which covers the midsections of the three girl characters. Each girl is wearing her red school uniform and black knee high socks. Hazumu, the main character, is sandwiched between her friends Tomari and Yasuna. This simple cover does a nice job depicting the love triangle defining much of this series. The back cover has a story synopsis and a picture of Hazumu’s friend Ayuki and the alien Jan-puu.
The printing is good and there are nice extras; including a colored first page, honorifics guide, translation notes, short volume two preview, and a description of the flowers and plants in this volume. This includes the Japanese, Latin, and English names.
Yukimaru’s art works quite well with this story; delicate female characters, hyperactive interactions, along with expressive eyes and faces. The characters are all very cute and I enjoyed the contrast between the rounded female faces and the angular jaw lines of the male characters. Yukimaru does an excellent job expressing character’s emotions through their facial expressions, and because of this, she doesn’t need to result to overusing SD for comedic scenarios. The artist also draws a character’s eyes differently depending on their emotions. I have seen this before, but not to such an extent. Backgrounds are sparse, but the panel layout is varied and the art flows well.
The translation reads very well and the only problem I found was one place where a word was missing and another where two words in the dialogue had the order switched. I certainly can’t blame those on the translator because the letterer may have responsible. Honorifics remain and the SFX are translated alongside the original Japanese SFX in most instances. However, there are places in this volume where panels have an English SFX but no Japanese equivalent. It is possible the editor chose to overlay the Japanese SFX in smaller panels that would have appeared overcrowded with both language versions. Either way, I’m just happy when there are English SFX.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Hazumu isn’t your typical high school student. He’s actually very timid, has weak bone structure, and relies on his female friend, Tomari, to fight his battles for him. Hazumu is also a member of the gardening club and spends a lot of his time in the forest looking for flowers. As feminine as Hazumu seems, he does have a crush on Yasuna, a girl in his class. He even musters up enough courage to profess his love, but Yasuna turns him down.
Broken hearted, Hazumu retreats to the forested mountains outside of town in the hope of figuring things out. Unfortunately for Hazumu, an alien race decides to make contact with humans on the same day. They aren’t evil aliens just bad drivers, so bad that they crash their spaceship right on top of Hazumu, killing him. The aliens are able to save Hazumu’s life by reconstructing his body, but they mistakenly rebuild him as a female. Okay, maybe they’re bad drivers and just a little stupid.
Hazumu awakes to find his place in the world a lot different than it had been before the accident. Now he/she has to learn about wearing dresses, finding comfortable bras that fit, using the women’s bathroom and locker room, and dealing with his/her mother and fathers newfound joy for having a daughter. Yeah, Dad’s a little on the creepy pervy side.
With the foundation laid, the story and character development can get underway. Hazumu’s best male friend discovers he’s attracted to Hazumu’s new body. Hazumu’s childhood friend, Tomari, has always loved him/her as a boy, but how does she feel now? Yasuna liked Hazumu as a boy but turned him down because she was into girls. Now that Hazumu is a girl, Yasuna can get the best of both worlds. But, what about Hazumu in all this? Will he/she become attracted to boys or stay attracted to girls? On the other hand, will Hazumu forget about Yasuna turning him down before and happily accept her advances? So many questions, dang it, where’s the next volume?
If you spend much time in the manga forums, then you have seen most of my reviews are of the shounen action/adventure nature, and I have to admit that I usually don’t stray very far. However, I do enjoy a good romance story from time to time, and I’m happy to say I found Kashimashi quite enjoyable both in content and art.
Stories with love triangles or gender-switching protagonists have been done before, but this story is a different animal because of the all-girl love triangle, permanent gender change for the protagonist, and alien observer watching all the protagonist’s interactions in hopes of learning about human relationships and feelings. Hazumu’s change into a girl explores romance between people of the same sex in an interesting and comedic way. The inclusion of an alien adds another element that somewhat mirrors the theme behind Hazumu’s situation. The alien’s people have rid themselves of emotions to eliminate wars. Unfortunately, love and lust were also lost along with emotions, leading to a species nearing the brink of extinction. At the same time, Hazumu begins to question what love really is and which gender he/she is attracted to, maybe neither after all that happened.
I highly recommended Kashimashi, though some of the yuri fans may think the story is progressing too slowly since girls weren’t jumping into each other’s beds in this first volume. Good things often come to those who wait, so I’m eagerly awaiting the next volume.
Content Grade: A-
Art Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: A-
Text/Translation Grade: A-
Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Seven Seas Entertainment
Release Date: December 15th, 2006