You’re never going to believe me, but I swear this isn’t trashy.
Once upon a time, there was a legend that said that if you reached the age of thirty still a virgin, you would become a wizard. Originating on the internet in Japan, this myth really didn’t make the breakthrough in the West until an episode of Haganai: I Don’t Have Many Friends (an episode of whaaat?*) made reference to it. And here we are, seven years later, contending with a manga in which the lead discovers – its true! You do become a wizard at thirty if you’ve remained wholly untouched by none but your own hand! Well, or, at least, you get some kind of powers…
Adachi is an office worker with wallflower tendencies who recently turned thirty and suddenly gained the ability to hear people’s thoughts if he comes into physical contact with him. It’s a power which has simply made his virginity problem more acute (he ends up panicking when he decides to try a soapland because the thoughts running through the head of the worker overwhelm him) and his commute even more unpleasant (have you ever seen the inside of a Tokyo subway car during rush hour?). But he’s in for a huge shock when he accidentally bumps into his colleague Kurosawa, the most popular man in his office, and discovers that Kurosawa’s thanking his own lucky stars that he’s gotten a chance to see his crush first thing in the morning… and his crush is Adachi.
Folks, I went into this thing pretty skeptical. “Cherry Magic”?! Really?! Sheesh, between this and My Dress-Up Darling (which I’ll be reviewing when I’m finally able to get my hands on it), Square Enix Manga & Books sure was going for the trashy end of the market as part of their initial launch. So imagine my surprise when this first volume turned out to be… remarkably sweet. Also, contrary to the “Explicit Content” stamp on the front cover, there’s no sex whatsoever. This will surely be a grave disappointment to some, but I personally prefer a more sedate pace; Adachi’s never even been kissed, so this is definitely a case where granting the lead more time to adjust to things is a plus. It also completely removed my concern that Kurosawa might be depicted as predatory, as often happens in these sorts of stories. Kurosawa opts at a few junctures to not test his luck, leaving it to Adachi to either carry things further or not. In fact, even as Adachi’s well aware due to his mind-reading ability of the other man’s attraction, Kurosawa himself doesn’t even imply his romantic interest until the very end of the volume.
Speaking of the end of the volume – there are several extra chapters here, two of which concern Adachi’s friend Masato, another virginal wizard who is busily developing a crush on a deliveryman, and one of which is from Kurosawa’s point of view depicting when he first fell for Adachi. The Kurosawa one does a really great job of demonstrating why he became interested in Adachi, while also nicely showing off that our lead doesn’t tend to give himself enough credit for his own kindness and decency.
This is the first release that I’ve read from Square Enix Manga & Books, and while one would hope such a large company would get things right on the first go (*stares hard in Bandai Visual USA*), I am nevertheless very pleased to say this is a solid release. The translation was seamless; in particular, I very much appreciated what a good job translator and editor team Taylor Engel and Tania Biswas did with ensuring the cast had distinct voices, in the sense that I never mistook one character’s line for another. In fact, this release was handled so well I find myself hoping to hell they’re going to pick up more BL titles, as the companies offering the most yaoi in English at the moment are either shady & shoddy (hello, DMP!) or simply shady (Tokyopop is still Stu Levy’s baby, folks). (Whither SuBLime, you say? Indeed, whither SuBLime – their paltry release schedule suggests strongly that Viz doesn’t think they’re making enough money, although one hopes Given can give them a good boost.) We very badly need some more quality players in the yaoi/BL market.
Shorter version – don’t let the trashy title scare you off, this is a sweet romance about a shy office worker who keeps insisting he’s nothing special and the colleague who truly thinks he is. And if you, on the other hand, are a bit dismayed to hear that there’s no sex to be had here, well, worry not, volume two promises to bring on the heat. I’ve already pre-ordered that one.
* I did discover that the Haganai manga is still being published in English, but its been a long, long time since I’ve heard anyone so much as whisper its name. It does not appear to be a title that newer fans end up bothering with. I almost feel a little badly for it that it didn’t manage to hang on by the fingernails a little longer, as I think had it managed to stick around for the current era of English-language LN publishing, its LN would’ve had a good chance of performing well. Alas!