I finally stopped in a used bookstore I pass on my commute and, oh my. Every hardcover is less than four dollars US, some paperbacks are less than a buck, and the manga. My goodness, the manga – full sets impeccably shelved, calling to me. And it was 10% off day.
I browsed for an hour and settled on a nonfiction book by a 911-esque dispatcher (old habits die hard) and the first volume of Kokoro Button (ココロボタン). In it a guy (Koga) and a girl (Kasuga) meet at high school orientation – she is smitten, but he is not looking for a relationship with anyone. She says how about a trial period to see if we could like each other? His reply:
You don’t know much about me yet… are you sure?
It turns out Koga-kun is a “little bit S”, or a little bit sadistic, so she doesn’t realize how loaded the question is. She says she’s sure, and the series is off and running.
Fear not, there is no BDSM in this high school manga; in fact, it’s purely PG. This “little bit S” is the reason I picked up the book – what does that look like?
Well, it’s basically teasing in the form of misdirection. He’d tell her one thing, she’d get worried or upset, and he’d enjoy that reaction (there’s the S). Then he’d say no, actually it’s this other thing, and turn into a sweet boyfriend until it was time to tease her again. It’s hurt/comfort, but with both parts from the same person.
I can see this working if Kasuga-san a) realizes what’s going on or b) gives as good as she gets, but she worries and laments about every little thing. For example, one night Koga-kun doesn’t call and she’s reduced to a sobbing catatonic mess. I’m okay with not-strong heroines (huzzah variety!) but this is a little much for me.
Even so it was a quick read. The style is typical shojo with lots of white space and wispy lines, and while the art is average some frames stick out as particularly well framed or comical. I love Kasuga’s reaction when Koga sees a beetle in her hair:
When I freak out I shout in squiggles, too.
All in all I’m not a fan, and can only recommend Kokoro Button if a “little bit S” is your sort of thing.
This is my first manga review on Always Doing, yea! If you’d like to see more reviews like this let me know in the comments, and if you’d rather I didn’t review books I read in Japanese let me know that, too. I feel bad that this series isn’t available in English (at least officially…) but my thoughts were overflowing and I couldn’t resist.