Lesley Aeschliman

Manga Review: So Cute It Hurts!! Volume 1

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So Cute It Hurts!! Volume 1 focuses on the Kobayashi twins, Megumu and Mitsuru, who were named after historical figures. Megumu grew up to have an interest in history, while her brother is more interested in athletics and hitting on girls. The twins attend different schools: Megumu goes to a regular high school, while Mitsuru attends a boys’ school.

So Cute It Hurts!! Volume 1

So Cute It Hurts!! Volume 1

Written by: Go Ikeyamada
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: June 2, 2015

Volume 1 sees Megumu tripping on stairs and being caught by a teenage boy. When she turns around to thank him, she accidentally kisses him. Megumu runs off in a panic, so she never got a good look at his face. All she can remember is that he smells like lavender. But from what we see right after she runs off, it appears that Megumu may have developed an interest in this guy.

When Megumu arrives home, Mitsuru asks Megumu to cross dress and take his place at school because he flunked history. It turns out he has to take makeup classes and quizzes for a week, and he doesn’t want to bother with it because he has other things he wants to do. Megumu says no, but Mitsuru forces her hand. He gets up early the next day, crosses dresses as his sister, and leaves a note saying he’s counting on her.

As expected, this sudden role reversal causes awkwardness for both siblings, and this is the cause for much of the humor that appears in So Cute It Hurts!! Volume 1. For Megumu, not only is she awkward around boys, but she discovers that her brother is at number seven in the ranking for the strongest boy at school. But the biggest surprise for Megumu is that her rescuer is a student at this school and has been voted the strongest boy. You have to feel bad for Megumu, because she can be around the boy who rescued her, but she can’t let on that she’s a girl. She nearly slips up once or twice in Volume 1, and I imagine this will probably be a running gag throughout the series.

Meanwhile, Mitsuru discovers that star model Azusa Tokugawa attends Megumu’s school. At first, he wants to become friends with Azusa, but then discovers she’s bullying another girl. Mitsuru stands up to Azusa because he thinks the girl being bullied is cute and falls in love with her. But the girl doesn’t say anything and uses actions that seem to indicate that she’s not grateful for the help. But when Mitsuru learns that the girl is deaf, he gets a book about sign language in order to learn how to communicate with her.

Even though the story was a little on the strange side up to this point, I have to give some serious props to Ikeyamada for including a deaf character in the series, because this is an angle that I personally have only seen one previous time in manga. I also appreciate the depiction of Mitsuru trying to learn sign language, as well as the fact that Ikeyamada actually draws some of the pages of the book that Mitsuru refers to. I thought it was a nice bonus getting to learn a little bit of sign language along with Mitsuru while I was reading this volume.

By the end of Volume 1, it becomes clear that the focus of this series will be on the twins continuing to cross dress as each other and having to deal with the fact that they have feelings for students who think they’re someone else. There could be potential for this concept, but it just depends on how Ikeyamada has ultimately chosen to write this story. I expect that Volume 2 will give a better feel for how the series will progress from here.

When it comes to the art, Ikeyamada has designed the twins in such a way that it’s easy for the reader to tell that there are differences when they cross dress as each other. While this may be helpful for the reader, it also made me wonder why their classmates don’t seem to pick up on it. I guess this is one of those cases where you have to use your “willing suspension of disbelief.” Outside of this, Ikeyamada relies on many of the artistic tropes that are associated with shojo manga, such as sparkly backgrounds and very cute-looking characters. But with a story as zany as this can get, it’s easy to overlook the rather typical art style for the genre.

From what I’ve read, I believe So Cute It Hurts!! Volume 1 will appeal to readers who enjoy shojo romance stories. I think that teenage readers will especially enjoy reading this series and seeing what happens to the twins as they pretend to be people that they aren’t.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

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