Thursday, December 1, 2011

I Reads You Review: PORTRAIT OF M&N, VOL. 2

Creators: Tachibana Higuchi with Jamie S. Rich (English adaptation) and Satsuki Yamashita (translation)
Publishing Information: TOKYOPOP, B&W, paperback, 192 pages, $10.99 (US), $13.99 CAN
Ordering Numbers: ISBN: 978-1-4278-1725-9 (ISBN-13)

Romance/Comedy; Rated “T” for “Teen Age 13+”

Portrait of M&N is a shojo manga focusing on two high school students with embarrassing, even debilitating secrets that cannot be shared with people outside their homes. First, 15-year-old Mitsuru Abe is an extreme masochist who delights in receiving brutal beatings. Mitsuru meets fellow student, 15-year-old Natsuhiko Amakusa, an extreme narcissist who is mesmerized by his reflection.

They keep each other’s secrets. Then, another student, 17-year-old Eiichi Hijiri, inserts himself into their relationship, claiming to be in love with Abe. Is he really, and does Natsuhiko even care if another guy is in love with Abe?

It’s meet the parents in Portrait of M&N, Vol. 2. Mitsuru meets Natsuhiko’s parents, but she is deathly afraid that they will learn her secret life as a masochist. However, the Amakusa clan has its own secrets, including Natsuhiko’s mother. Natsuhiko makes things worse by inviting the inquisitive Hijiri.

Next, the school’s Ball Games Tournament reveals the jealousies that the other female students have against Mitsuru because they believe she stands between them and Natsuhiko. And they plan to give her hell for it. After he is hurt in an accident, Hijiri plays on Mitsuru’s guilt and turns her into his nursemaid, which is probably making Natsuhiko jealous. So why won’t he admit it?

I didn’t enjoy this second volume of Portrait of M&N as much as I did the first. In Vol. 1, the art by creator Tachibana Higuchi (Gakuen Alice) reminded me of the work of famed New Yorker cartoonist, Charles Addams. This time around, Higuchi’s work lacks the macabre flourishes, and the wicked sense of humor is now more slapstick. The stories are more like traditional high school shojo (comics for teen girls) romance, and the secrets that made the leads seem weird now seem more like debilitations than dirty secrets. I enjoyed reading this volume of Portrait of M&N, but now it is quaint rather than edgy and comic.


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