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Minto na Bokura
Synopsis | Review

I'm starting to wonder why Yoshizumi Wataru has weird titles for her manga. These weird titles involve food. First there's Marmalade Boy. Now there's Minto na Bokura, which translates into "We are Mint." I never really found out who's the mint in this story, whereas Marmalade Boy provided some rationale for being named as such. Hmm, actually, I never knew who's the maniac in Ultra Maniac either (if there are any maniacs to begin with. The story's so wholesome), but that's probably a different story :D

Minto na Bokura has six volumes. It's the first shoujo manga I've read with a male protagonist. That probably means I haven't read enough shoujo manga...uh, where was I? Oh yeah, the guy. Actually, he's not a guy most of the time in the story because he had to pretend to be a girl ^_^ He also has a twin sister. If this is a real-life story, I'll be pretty disturbed about a guy who can effectively pretend to be a girl and have a handful of bishounen falling for him in the process @_@ It seems Yoshizumi-sensei is into pushing the limits of social norms. Like Marmalade Boy. Oh yeah, another similarity these two series have is the phenomenal number of love triangles among their characters. I remember initially checking out both synopses and getting cross-eyed with all the relationships going on.

Anyway, you can think of Minto na Bokura as the male counterpart of Hana Kimi ^_^

Minamino Noel has a sister complex. If he didn't, there won't be a Minto na Bokura to begin with :D Anyway, to start at the very beginning, he and his twin sister, Maria, used to do everything together. However, as they grew up, Maria started to distance herself and did things on her own, such as playing basketball. This bugged Noel, but he never really found the need to do anything about it until they came to junior high.

Noel and Maria's father went to Hawaii for spring vacation. Noel went with him while Maria stayed at home for their school's sports tournament. When Noel got back, he found out that Maria transferred to Morinomiya Junior High Boarding School to go after a guy. Noel's so incensed that he announced that he will transfer to the same school as well. Their father didn't think this was a bad idea (he's not thrilled about Maria following a guy too ^_^) and met with the Morinomiya chairman. The lady found their situation interesting and allowed Noel to transfer on one condition. The guys' dorms are full, and there's space only in the girls' dorms. So Noel would have to enroll at Morinomiya as a girl.

Naturally, Maria was shocked when Noel showed up in class and introduced himself as her twin sister ^_^ No kicking and screaming of hers would make him change his mind :D And so Noel started his life at Morinomiya Junior High. He has this weird roommate, Miyu, who climbs in through their room window late at night. Rumor has it she's seeing middle-aged men. Noel's curious about what Miyu's up to, even though she seems distant and reserved. However, his immediate concern is finding out who Maria's in love with.

The only clue Noel has is that this guy must be on the basketball team. While hanging around the courts, he met Sasa, a player from the guys' basketball team. He was grilling Sasa about who's hot on the guys' team when the girls' team walked in. Instantly, Noel knew that Maria's in love with her coach, Hirobe-san @_@ Thus, Noel started working on getting between Hirobe-san and his sister, starting by becoming the manager for the guys' basketball team :) However, he soon had to back down because Maria got really upset ^_^

While Noel was ruminating about how he's possibly possessive of Maria, he got into a conversation with Sasa about fishing. Apparently, Sasa loves fishing. Since Noel found all the girls uninteresting with their talk of make-up, clothes, and boys, he invited himself to go fishing with Sasa :D They started hanging out more, and pretty soon everybody in school's buzzing about them dating :D Apparently, Sasa's hot, but he's a well-known girl-hater. Maria tried to warn Noel about how things are probably going, but Noel assured her that he and Sasa are just buddies. Unfortunately, he's the only one who thinks so. Soon, Sasa confessed that he's in love with Noel. Whee.

Rather than lose his best friend, Noel decided to tell Sasa the whole truth (and boy, was Sasa horrified). It definitely helps to have a partner in crime, because pretty soon, Maria started getting involved in...unexpected relationships, first with Hirobe-san's younger brother, then with Noel's old best friend. Noel started having problems of his own as he realizes he's interested in Miyu and wanted to clear up the whole business about her with middle-aged men ^_^ Later on, a school idol, Chris, decides he wants Noel for his girlfriend and is prepared to fight Sasa for him (everybody in school still thinks the two of them are dating, and they really don't do anything to correct that impression :D). Things began to unravel, and as Noel tried to straighten things with Miyu, Sasa and Maria realized they had to sort things out between them as well ^_~

Actually, I think Minto na Bokura's more confusing than Marmalade Boy because you have to keep in mind that Noel is a straight guy, but has other guys falling all over him ^_~ The situations that Noel get into are hilarious, starting with the whole thing between him and Sasa :D He and Maria would also have these talks that are pretty funny, because she couldn't help but laugh at the variety of drama he has. Oftentimes, she would give him some advice based on feminine intuition, but Noel would brush them off and get into more mess as a result ^_~

The story's pretty solid. It's not really a page-turner, but it's worth reading just for the comic relief. You can tell that at some point, Noel has to come clean about his true identity and people such as Sasa and Miyu would get shocked and then pissed that they've been led to believe that he's a girl @_@ I think Noel's masquerade overshadowed the whole love story element, but that's okay because he's just so darn funny ^_^

For the most part, tho', Noel's personality is pretty feminine. In other words, his character fits the shoujo heroine type (gets into messes and freaks out) instead of the shoujo hero type (funny, charming, lots of inner angst). Sometimes I forget that he's a guy ^_^ Maria's okay, but I think she's not popular with the readers just because she goes from one guy to another ^_^ There wasn't enough focus on Miyu to really develop her personality, so I really didn't get a warm and fuzzy feeling when she and Noel ended up together. Sasa's probably my favorite because of the whole girl-hater-until-I-met-you thing. After finding out Noel's true identity, he became a loyal friend that could be counted on in times of trouble (although he's not exactly thrilled at getting dragged into Noel's drama).

The artwork is similar to Ultra Maniac's, with cute girls, cute guys, and cute uniforms. You can tell that Yoshizumi-sensei's style changed since Marmalade Boy, although you can still see remnants of her old elements in the characters' facial expressions ^_~ The ending itself is very Yoshizumi-sensei too--everybody's happy, everybody else around them always has an inkling of what's really going on, and everybody dissolves into peels of laughter.

If you like Yoshizumi-sensei's work, you'll probably like Minto na Bokura. It's a good story and an enjoyable read, but don't take it too seriously ^_^

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