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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Manga Review: Absolute Boyfriend GN 1

Absolute Boyfriend volume 1
Author: Yuu Watase
Viz Media/Shojo Beat
191 pages
Shy high school student Riko Izawa aches for a boyfriend but guys just won't look her way. Then one day she signs up for a three-day trial of a mysterious "lover figurine," and the next thing she knows, a cute naked guy is delivered to her doorstep--and he wants to be her boyfriend! (Source: Goodreads)
Absolute Boyfriend/Zettai Kareshi reads like a shojo fan's perfect adolescent fantasy. A knock on your door, a giant box waiting to be opened, and what's inside? A drop-dead gorgeous young man, tailored to your specifications and fancies, whose number one purpose in his artificial life is to please one person and one person only: you. But Riko, Yuu Watase's main protagonist, wants nothing to do with the world of private fantasy lovers. And yet here she is, stuck with a young man who keeps offering to have sex with her. 
What's a girl like Riko to do?

Riko is a plain Jane awkward girl whose only friends are cute guys who seemingly have no interest in her romantically. When she does ask her crush Ishizeki out on a date, Ishizeki flat out rejects her and then badmouths her to his friends. A free hand made boyfriend from Kronos Heaven, who she names Night, would be a blessing - but he's turning out to be more of a headache than a heartthrob. Riko now has to teach Night the ways of women (and human society in general) if she doesn't want the whole world knowing the truth about their oddball arrangement.
I'm mostly acquainted with Yuu Watase via her more epic fantasy series, Fushigi Yugi and Ceres Celestial Legends. By comparison, Absolute Boyfriend is downright cheerful. The world isn't ending, there are no epic quests to be had, and no one's brothers are trying to bone their sisters. It's the story of a young woman suddenly saddled with a perfect robot (android?) boyfriend and the various complications that come with it.
The story itself moves fast enough, which is good, because I don't think I want to linger with any of the young men that Riko has been around in this book. Ishizeki is a chump and a jerk. Her friend/neighbor Soshi is a sourpuss who constantly puts down poor Riko when he's not sending out mixed signals. Night, the mystery boyfriend from a box, is always chomping at the bit for sex (although at least he respects consent) and can become violently protective of Riko, constraining any chance for her to break out of her shell and define herself as a person. Blech. Dump them all, girl.

Having said that, Absolute Boyfriend is absurd high flying fun. It can be very funny at times and as a screwball romantic comedy, it certainly brings the strange. There are some shojo where you just have to shrug all the faults off and read through with a relaxed state of mind, and Absolute Boyfriend is definitely such a title. One volume down, five more to go!