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Zettai Kareshi
Synopsis | Review

This is a story about a girl who goes looking for love in all the wrong places when the right one is next door all along. And the thing is, she actually finds something while looking for love. It's not the real thing, but it's pretty darn close.

And that little ditty isn't what it seems. How exactly is "the real thing" defined?

Zettai Kareshi is by one of my favorite mangaka, Yu Watase. It spans six volumes and is licensed in the U.S. as "Absolute Boyfriend." It's one of the series whose installments I awaited with baited breath. Like a lot of her series, it has a love triangle, albeit an unusual one. Like many love stories, the question is who the girl will end up with. You will be guessing until the very end. The two guys involved in the love triangle are very, very hot. There's a lot of other eye candy in the manga as well. The series ran from 2003 to 2005.

Riiko Izawa is kind of gullible. She tends to try products that promise to make her more attractive... or at least make her boobs grow. She also has terrible luck with guys. She confesses to them, but none of them seem to be interested in going out with her. It turns out that her seemingly best friend, Mika Ito, tends to spread vicious rumors about her, which hurts her chances with the opposite sex.

Her parents are often out of town, so it's almost like she has her apartment to herself. Next door lives her childhood friend, Soshi Asamoto, who looks after her from time to time and makes sure that she eats something more nutritious than the typical junk she consumes. Soshi lives with his younger brother, Masaki. Like Riiko's parents, their folks are always out of town. Soshi looks after Masaki most of the time as well.

After getting her confession rejected yet again, Riiko encounters a salesman named Gaku Namikiri. He works for Kronos Heaven, who provides a vast range of goods and services. When he told Riiko he could get her anything, Riiko challenged him by asking for a boyfriend. Gaku gave her a card that she could use to log into a website. Riiko does so, and finds that it sells very realistic robots. She clicks on a particular model and is completely bowled over by how hot it is. The shop is offering a free trial period on its robots, so Riiko places an order for one, with the intention of returning it before her trial period ends.

The robot figure arrives with a manual, and Riiko is astounded by how life-size it is. And how naked. The manual says a kiss serves as the figure's power-on, so Riiko does that. So the figure springs to life and immediately proclaims himself as Riiko's very devoted boyfriend who loves her very much. His whole existence revolves around adoring her. Riiko, still taken aback at the turn of events, hastily names him Night and gingerly gets used to the idea of having a boyfriend.

It was not long before Night causes a stir around him. He has superhuman strength and can leap from great heights. He would do anything for Riiko. He even saw past Mika's ruse, which ended that unhealthy relationship. In fact, he and Riiko were kicking up such a storm that Soshi sat up and took notice. He always had a crush on Riiko, but never really did anything about it. And now he's jealous.

Riiko's plan to return Night to Kronos Heaven backfires--she wasn't able to return him fast enough, and ended up with a bill that goes into the millions. The series proceeds with Riiko's and Night's escapades to make ends meet. Riiko almost loses Night to another woman. It turns out that as long as she doesn't sleep with Night, he can be "reset" by any woman who kisses him. Gaku, who's been trailing Riiko and Night all along, pushes Riiko to get back Night. Amazingly enough, even though Night was reset, he still remembers Riiko... which he isn't supposed to do. Eventually, Riiko gets him back and resets him so that he belongs to her again.

After that incident, Gaku flatly tells them that the two of them must sleep together so that Night won't be taken away by any other woman again. Night of course is very open to this idea. After all, he's programmed to have an amazing technique. But Riiko has reservations about giving her virginity to a robot.

Soshi witnessed Night's dalliances with the other woman who almost took him away from Riiko, and he was not happy about it one bit. The whole incident made Soshi decide to take away Riiko from Night, and he confesses his feelings to her. This of course confuses Riiko even more and triggers Night's jealousy.

The rest of the series is essentially a race to see who will end up with Riiko, along with several love rivals... some of them courtesy of Kronos Heaven. In the end, Riiko decides that she wants to be with Night and gives her virginity to him. Tragically, she realizes one more thing about Kronos Heaven figures, that is, they aren't meant to last forever. It wasn't long before Night died... or lost power. He was taken back to Kronos Heaven and stored intact, in hopes that they will be able to revive him someday.

Night knew that he won't always be with Riiko and had already made arrangements to turn her over to Soshi. By that time, Soshi had conceded defeat and had gone overseas. However, he returned when he received word from Night. By the time he came back, Night was gone and he was able to provide sorely needed comfort to Riiko.

Night is hot. He actually kind of looks like Touya from Ayashi no Ceres. Towards the end, he acts like Touya as well by turning her over to his rival. And Soshi is a lot like Yuuhi, from his dark, nerdy good looks to his friendly, conservative personality. Yu Watase is probably one of the few manga-ka I know who gives the girl to the fair-haired guy instead of the dark-haired one.

Anyway. This is one of my favorite manga, even before it was completed. Night is the stuff that girls' dreams are made of. I mean, his entire existence revolves around his lady, he displays jealousy at all the right times, and he still behaves like a gentleman. Soshi's not bad on the eyes, either, especially when he removes his glasses. One of my favorite scenes is at the beginning of the series, when Soshi confronts this guy who dissed Riiko. Without Riiko's knowledge, he was working at a restaurant and wasn't wearing his glasses. Very hot. Riiko eventually works at the same restaurant.

Riiko is okay, I guess. She had more character at the beginning of the series, but later merely reacts to actions around her. She's quite pretty, and it's clear that she loves Night more than Soshi, but she has reservations about him because he's not real. Which is understandable... I guess. I mean, Night is hot. I'm willing to look past the fact that he's only a robot.

The graphics are very good... but then again, Yu Watase's work is always good. And at six volumes, the manga is just the right length, I believe. Enough to entertain and give closure, and not too long that the plot drags on and on.

Zettai Kareshi is one of those swoon-worthy series. If you're looking for a story to drool over, you should definitely check it out. Even though it has a sad ending, Yu Watase did an amazing job in creating the absolute boyfriend.

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