Maria Holic Volume 1 by Minari Endou
I have difficulties seeing people be humiliated. Even when I’m watching something really innocuous like a sitcom, I’ll sometimes switch channels if I sense that a character is about to be horrifically embarrassed. So while I can defiantly see how someone might find Maria Holic funny, it just doesn’t jibe well with my sense of humor.
Kanoko enrolls in an all-girls school with the hope of finding her soulmate. Her parents met at the school years ago when her mother was a student and her father a teacher. Kanoko has a pathological fear of men that has a physical symptom – if a boy touches her she breaks out in horrible hives. After arriving at the school Kanoko makes the unfortunate discovery that one of her fellow students is a cross-dresser. Mariya is a sadistic boy who attends school as a girl. In order to make sure that Kanoko won’t reveal his secret he insinuates himself into her life. He decides he’ll displace her roommate.
Kanoko’s life is filled with hazing incidents and threats from Mariya and other students. While some of the pranks are funny (strange animal in a school bag, oozing gelatin in her desk, sudden protector patrolling the hallway kendo gear, random incidents with sea animals) she just spends most of her time wearing a grimace of anguish. The characters were portrayed too broadly for me to really sympathize with anyone. Kanoko just seems too pathetic, and Mariya’s teasing about Kanoko’s supposed lesbianism is just mean.
Mad Love Chase by Kazusa Takashima
This book is by the yaoi author Kazusa Takashima, and thus Mad Love Chase is filled with attractive men. The demon prince Kaito escapes to earth accomanied by his pet cat Rebun. On earth he is a wispy high school student named Yamato and Rebun has transformed into human form in order to become the sexy school nurse named Haga at Yamato’s high school. Scores of people from the demon kingdom arrive on earth to track down the lost prince, so Yamato is often the victim of plots to steal his clothes so the demons in disguise can take a look at the tattoo on his back to confirm his identity.
It is strange that most of the people Yamato comes in contact with are demons. There’s the creepy groundskeeper, his buff fellow student Taiki, and the sadistic new guidance counselor is actually his demonic fiancee. The transitions between scenes were often a little confusing. I thought that there would be more switching back and fourth between the demon world and Earth, but Mad Love Chase settles into high school comedy mode fairly quickly. I liked it more than Maria Holic, but the manga left me with a general impression of haphazardness. Reading the author’s note about going through multiple editors during the development process of the manga explained the manga’s lack of focus.
Review copies provided by the publisher.