I thought I’d review B.O.D.Y, the most mediocre shojo manga I’ve ever read. The series is about Ryoko Sakura, a 16-year-old girl who has a crush on a quiet boy in her class named Ryunosuke Fuji. After a chance encounter, however, Ryoko soon discovers Ryunosuke’s not the serious student she thought he was – he works at a host club! When I read the first volume, I thought the series was sweet and had potential. I really liked the early plotline of Ryunosuke betting that he can get Ryoko to fall for him. The whole dynamic of ‘trying to get someone to fall in love with you’ was really interesting, and I thought Ryunosuke’s plan to make Ryoko unable to keep her eyes off him by avoiding her was clever. I only wish the author would have used this premise a bit longer, because by the middle of the second volume, she’s admitted her feelings for him, and they immediately start going out. And that’s when things go downhill.
The next major storyline focuses on Ryunosuke trying to quit his job as a host. By pure coincidence, Ryoko meets Jin Sawamura, the president of the host club, who agrees to let Ryunosuke go if she can make one million dollars. After she fails, Ryoko tries to figure out why Jin is the way he is, against Ryunosuke’s warnings. She finds out he was once in a relationship with a woman who left him behind with her debt, causing him to get into the host club business. After Ryoko confronts the woman, Jin decides to let go of Ryunosuke for getting so embroiled in his personal affairs. And after reading all this, my immediate reaction was ‘Ugh.’ My biggest pet peeve in shojo manga is when we start focusing on side characters who have just been introduced, giving us no reason to care about them. This is especially when it’s in lieu of developing the main couple. Love*Com focused on Risa and Otani’s friends, but I was okay with that because the series waited much longer to do so, not to mention the side characters had been there from the beginning. Having these contrived plots so early on only tells me the author of B.O.D.Y, Aoi Mimori, didn’t know where the series was going. It would have been much better if the series had focused on more important questions like why Ryunosuke was working at the host club in the first place.
Ridiculous plotlines aside, another irritating aspect of the series is that Ryoko continuously makes dumb decisions. It’s frustrating to see Ryoko become a hostess so Ryunosuke can quit his job, which essentially puts herself in danger, WITHOUT EVEN TELLING RYUNOSUKE about her plan. And when Ryoko is kissed by Kousuke, a host who begins dating one of Ryoko’s friends to spite her for insulting him, she doesn’t tell Ryunosuke for a really trivial reason. And even Ryoko’s friend Asuka jumps into the action, by deciding to lash out at Ryoko when she tries to stop her from taking a shady job to buy a present for Kousuke. I don’t know what message B.O.D.Y is trying to send, but ‘chicks over dicks’ isn’t one of them.
Even the minor flaws in the series began to aggravate me. Aoi Mimori excessively uses flashbacks to events that happened two panels ago, as well an incredible amount of repeated dialogue and narration. And is it just me, or do B.O.D.Y’s pages seem really empty? Reading this series was jarring after coming off of Honey & Clover, which is overflowing with great dialogue. And since B.O.D.Y doesn’t even have the addictive quality of other average shojo series like Black Bird or Hot Gimmick, I’ve promptly decided to drop the series five volumes in. So every time I look at it on my bookshelf, I glare a little.