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Epotoransu! Mai
Synopsis | Review

Kyaaa! Another Tamahome lookalike! Sorry, couldn't resist the "kyaaa!" thing. There was this scene in the penultimate chapter of Epotoransu! Mai where Mai let Takuma out of his pocket notebook. Thing is, she forgot they're in a girls' dressing room, and everybody screamed "Kyaaa!" and shoved Takuma out. Whee :D But I'm getting too ahead of myself here.

Watase Yu wrote Epotoransu! Mai after Fushigi Yuugi, and it has two volumes. One of those short and sweet things. It's sort of like a supernatural Imadoki, really :D The storyline is not as grand as Fushigi Yuugi's, but nevertheless, I find myself re-reading this manga.

The best part about Epotoransu! Mai is how its characters resemble those of Fushigi Yuugi. I thought there's no such thing as a Miaka mold, but after seeing Mai, I guess there now is :D Nimura resembles Tamahome a lot too, and Takuma's a cross between Tamahome and Tasuki. Actually, I think they have a classmate who resembles Chichiri, and the hottest girl in their class looks like Soi ^_^

Synopsis
Kurahashi Mai's parents gave her an electronic notebook for her 16th birthday. It's a pretty nifty gadget that dispenses daily fortune forecasts and horoscopes. It also functions as a journal. Mai was all excited the following day when the electronic notebook told her that she'll be able to approach her unrequited love. She's been crushing on a classmate, Nimura, but is too shy to do anything about it. Apparently, she's been drooling on him from afar for so long, her best friend Kojima had gotten so sick and tired of the whole thing ^_^ In the first place, Kojima couldn't understand how Mai could fall for someone weird enough to be hung up on anime and children's shows :D

The electronic notebook's right on target, because not long after class started, Mai's eraser rolled under Nimura's leg. Unfortunately, she ended up bungling her opportunity. She was so nervous that she couldn't stop stuttering, and Kojima resignedly stepped in and translated everything to Nimura. And then, later that day, the electronic notebook told her that if she would stand under a tree close to the soccer field and raise her arms, she would have another opportunity to interact with Nimura. Sure enough, the soccer ball came flying into her hands, and Nimura, who is on the soccer team, called for her to throw it back. It ended in a disaster. Mai ended up hitting him in the balls :D Whee.

Mai was so miserable that night, and she decided to deal with it by writing in her electronic notebook's journal. However, she messed up some characters when she tumbled off her bed and accidentally typed "epotoransu" (yeah, it took me a while to get used to the name too :P). There came a brilliant flash of light, and a gorgeous guy appeared. His name is Takuma. He lives in the electronic world and is in charge of Mai's electronic notebook. Only one in a billion people could come up with epotoransu, which, according to Takuma, means "electronic world." In exchange for discovering the word, a person can ask for a new function.

Naturally, Mai refused to believe the whole thing :P Takuma managed to convince her by poking fun at her crush on Nimura. This set off Takuma and Mai's love-hate relationship. And then, unwittingly, Mai ended up asking for a portrait function. With Takuma's help, she could turn into any person whose portrait she entered in the electronic notebook ^_^

Of course, given the new function and Mai's painful shyness around Nimura, she just ended up getting herself in terrible fixes that Takuma had to dig her out of. First, she found herself impersonating the prettiest girl in class, Shirosaki, to get closer to Nimura. This naturally resulted in Nimura going after Shirosaki, who really had no interest in him at all. When that was all resolved and it looked like Mai was making good progress with Nimura, a new classmate named Aizawa enters the picture. Aizawa took one good look at Nimura and was instantly attracted to his friendliness and childlike cheerfulness (hey, he watches anime and children's shows :D). To make matters worse, Aizawa also has an electronic notebook and she knows about epotoransu! ^_^ And then lastly, Mai had to deal with the fact that Takuma's grown to hate her less and less and love her more and more... whee (and yeah, I knew something like that would happen :D).

Review
Epotoransu! Mai is light, cheeerful, and has the Watase Yu magical element. It's sort of like having a genie in a bottle :D Takuma can pretty much do anything to get Mai out of trouble, except save her from herself :D Their antics sure are the laugh-out-loud variety. And when you throw in Nimura's cheerfulness, Kojima's dry humor, and Aizawa's own schemes, you end up getting this delightfully fun story. It's certainly not something that you can take seriously, but it can sure make you smile ^_^

After reading this manga, I was convinced that this is an important precursor to Zettai Kareshi, which is about a girl who accidentally orders a living figure from an online Lover Shop :D Not only that, I felt like the Fushigi Yuugi molds live on. Whee :D If Tamahome's in high school, he would probably be nice, athletic, and cheerful like Nimura. They both have eccentricities too: Nimura's a total anime and children's show fan while Tamahome's a miser extraordinaire :P Oh, and speaking of which, there are all these anime references throughout Epotoransu! Mai. Obviously, Nimura loves watching Sailor Moon and has a huge crush on Sailor Mercury, or Ami. Okay, that was kind of random, but I just think it's really cute when I come across anime I know in other anime and manga :D

Oh yeah, and Takuma's a total bishounen. I think he's actually hotter than Nimura. Like I mentioned before, Takuma's like a cross between Tamahome and Tasuki. He gets so annoyed with Mai, it's hilarious. He couldn't help it, really. Mai kept on getting herself into scrapes just because she's so shy, she couldn't bring herself to directly talk to Nimura. But I think she scores lower on the annoyance factor compared to Miaka ^_^ After all, it's her bumbling schemes that makes the story so funny.

Hmm, I guess I really don't have much to complain about Epotoransu! Mai (except have a less complicated title?). For a short manga, it's a good story. It's something to tide you over while you're waiting for Watase's latest installments :D Or if you can't get enough of Tamahome ^_^

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