Sigh… for once, my brother was right. Except when he bought Midori Days. He was more right then. Still, the premise is too stupid and perverted for my tastes, and yet they handled it well. Gender-bending. Aliens. But in the end, they went the dramatic route. Welcome to Kashi Mashi.
Yes, you read it right. This manga has both aliens and gender-bending, but it’s a drama. How? Danged if I know. Is it the best manga? Not even close. But I went over to my brother and said “Okay, I’m starting the blog. I need to read Kashi Mashi.” And I did. I read all five volumes. Painstakingly. Again, readable (at more points than not), but I’ll take Ranma 1/2 any day. I think what made this so hard to read is the humor. It would’ve worked better if they played the whole series straight, but Nyamo’s (the teacher) love antics are way too… unfunny. Even more annoying? Her “I’m gonna fall out the window” gag. Please, fall out the window and get hurt for the 40th time this story. It’s not old.
The characters in general are unbearable. The protagonist’s parents prefer her as a girl rather than sympathize, the girl who can’t see men is way too into herself without realizing it (“If only you were a girl!”), and the spaceship and her captain are… probably the unfunniest aliens I’ve ever read about. We’ll get to the spaceship later.
Plot: Hazumu Azumu (or Azumu Hazuma, I’m sure it won’t matter) is such a loser! He can’t win the girl of his dreams because she can’t see men! Then he gets hit by a spaceship! And for some reason, he’s turned into a girl. Now everyone likes her better this way! And now not only is man-blind girl in love with her, so is her childhood friend, her best male friend, and the alien’s spaceship! “WHAAAA??? Now I have too many girlfriend! …And a dude. …And spaceship.” Ooh, but Azumu doesn’t have very long to live, actually! In fact, she has to choose a life partner soon, or… well, she dies. Yeah…
So that’s the plot. Now, what’s with the spaceship? Well, for some reason she falls in love with Hazumu. Oh, and when she’s not a giant spaceship, she takes the form of a cute girl. Now, why is the alien unfunny? Because there’s a difference between playing it straight and being humorless. He sees something “funny” and takes it to no extreme. “Oh,” he says, “that exists.” Azumu Hazumu Hazumu Azumu herself gives into her new lifestyle way too quickly and easily. Ranma never gave into it, I don’t know why this kid should.
The plot, despite the stupidity, is excellent. Very dramatic and touching, to be honest. But again, the aliens and gender-swapping seem a little out of place in this bearable manga. This is actually some of the best storytelling I’ve ever read in manga, aside from its humor. But for once, I’ll let that slide.
Mostly Spoiler-Free Ending: The three protagonists fall off the roof and get major injuries. Which makes me beg the question, HOW IS IT THAT NYAMO CAN FALL OUT OF A WINDOW 200 TIMES A DAY, BUT THEY FALL OFF A ROOF ONCE AND CAN’T TAKE IT?! Please, explain that to me. Sigh… But no spoilers on who she chooses. Let’s just say that it was the right choice. Also, it ends on the words “Everything is Kashimashi.” …I don’t get it. What does that mean? I don’t get the line. It’s like “Everything’s gonna be Azumanga Daioh from here on out!” or “Let’s all try to be Astro Boy!”
Overall Opinion: Just because you were right once, that’s no excuse for buying twelve volumes of Ai Yori Aoshi. You’re better than that, bro.
Rating: One Thumb Up, Three and a Half Stars, and a “B-“.