Welcome back to Spooky Month! What’s that you say? Midori Days isn’t a horror series? Sure it is! It’s… uh… Body Horror! Yeah! I mean, listen to this plot!
Plot: Seiji is… say it with me now… “such a loser! He doesn’t even have girlfriend!” “Mad Dog” Seiji Sawamura is a thug, but all he wants is a girlfriend. One day, he wishes for a gal to call his own, and then… HIS HAND TURNS INTO A GIRL. Shocked at first, Midori, the handy girl, confesses her love for Seiji. He’s horrified that this is how he gets a girl, and tries to hide her when some ladies come over. Midori saves Seiji from getting decapitated by the femme fatales, and realizes, hey, maybe Midori is good to have around! And thus begins our adventure!
Okay. Yeah. I hated this when I saw it in a Viz Media preview book. Just like I hated Happy Hustle High and loved Mar. Well, news flash. I love Happy Hustle High, and Mar is mediocre. Yeah, much better than Shark Boy & Lava Girl, but it’s mostly the Tenkaichi Budokai. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but… where was I?
Midori Days! Right! So my brother bought the series since he loved the preview. On his recommendation, I took a glance. I got hooked like a fish gets hooked on Worm Phonics.
How do you describe love? Love between a man and a manga? Well, I guess I’d take letters, put them into words, put the words into sentences, and we’ll take it from there. Everything is strong in this series. Everything.
Art? It’s polished, recognizable, and fits the mood. Although maybe Midori is a little too cutesy considering this IS a horror manga. I mean, that’s totally what this is. But I love that there’s no awkward sketchiness that ruins other series. While scenery isn’t prevalent, so we don’t get glorious depictions of lush fields or factories or toboggans, it’s the characters that matter, and it does the job. Speaking of…
Characters? Take your pick: The tough but kind Seiji? The outgoing and bubbly Midori? The underdog minion Miyahara? The prudish bookworm who tries too hard Ayase? The American stereotype Lucy? The nerdy yet lovable Takamizawa? Seiji’s domineering yet caring sister Rin? The closeted friend of Midori Kota? The… whatever the heck Nao is? Stop me if I’m going too fast. The characters are all so diverse, and each one has a story of their own, something that makes them unique. You really end up caring about what happens to everyone.
Plot? Well, yeah, it sounds dumb. It sounds like a fetish manga. But it doesn’t go that route. Sure, the concept is explored with Takamizawa, who first sees Midori as a doll, but she clears that right up. And with such dignity! This manga is really a mentch.
Humor? Why, yes! Lots of it! The jokes hit hard and fast. This manga also contains one of my favorite chapters ever.
Drama? Did you not see the above image?
So yes, I love Midori Days. A lot. Problem is, it’d make for a boring review to just talk about why I love it, so I’d like to focus on certain aspects.
First, the lack of hiding Midori. Okay, so it’s not like everyone knows who Midori is. Ayase never learns, and various others are kept in the dark. But when someone finds out, they usually stick with it. Sometimes a character will get amnesia or think it was a dream, but the amnesia is undone and I don’t care at all about Seiji’s bratty neighbor. More on her later.
Sometimes knowing about Midori seems unnecessary, but more often it’s important. In the case of Lucy, she doesn’t discover Midori until right before she leaves. Pointless, you say? Well, not from a dramatic point of view. At this point of the series, Midori and Seiji were questioning if they should stay like this forever. Lucy’s departure exists primarily as a contrast for Midori’s hesitance to return to her millionaire girl body.
While Midori fidgets at the thought of forgetting her time with Seiji upon waking up from her… being a hand, Lucy realizes that she has to go back to America with all the other American-flag wearing stereotypes with blonde hair and huge boobs. She can’t stay in Japan forever, much as she loves the friends she’d made. She has to get back to real life, and not stick around in a place that, while she adores it, simply isn’t home.
Other characters to learn Midori’s existence include, as mentioned, Takamizawa. He’s mostly comic relief, but has plenty of drama of his own. He questions if it’s right for Midori and Seiji to stay this way. Midori’s friend Kota also finds out. He’s half-drama, half-comic relief. He also questions Midori and Seiji being stuck together. Rin, Seiji’s sister? Heartwarming backstory and drama, although she has her moments. Also wonders if this is the best option. Nao? No. She never questions if Midori should stay a hand. Yet out of all of them, she’s the only one in love with Midori, so there’s that.
Seiji is an interesting male lead. Unlike a lot of other characters in his position from other series, he deserves the attention he gets from women. He might be a brawler, but he only fights the strong. And… well, I kind of feel bad for him.
“Seiji? You feel bad for him? But he’s got at least three in love with him!” Oh, but they don’t love him. They love his fighting. None of the girls really KNOW Seiji at first. Midori was too shy to talk to him before the series began, but she fell in love with him because he defends the weak. Ayase fell in love with Seiji because he saved her from, as the anime put it, “THAT AWFUL GANG!” Lucy falls in love with him because he saved her purse, then starts comparing him to a samurai. Oddly, he never goes for Lucy, who’s the most blatant and isn’t a hand.
So they only have the most minuscule information about the guy. It’s all sort of crush-like in nature. Midori and Ayase drive themselves mad over this guy, Midori eventually going from girl to appendage, and Ayase descending into madness. But they only have so much to go on. Yes, Midori learns more about Seiji, but she doesn’t at first. In fact, when she wakes up, she forgets about her time with Seiji. It all works out, but still.
Seiji has two other girls in love with him, and I hate them both. Yeah, I don’t love all the characters in this. The first is Seiji’s aforementioned bratty neighbor. Obviously it’s just a kid’s crush. The girl is such a brat! “How bratty is she?” She’s such a brat that her step-mother walks into Seiji’s house, asks her nicely to come home, and the brat acts like the biggest jerk in the world! Now, it’s kind of uncomfortable to hear the whole “You’re not my real mother!” speech. Heck, it’s kind of justified to feel that way. No one wants their beloved mother replaced by someone else. What ISN’T that justifiable is the step-mother slapping her. And this is supposed to be a person we side with. They make up, but still. It’s… awkward on both ends. I just feel bad for Seiji. “Why won’t these people leave?” That… that would be me, in that situation.
There’s also a boy who has a crush on the brat, but he’s far too good for her. They get together, so that puts a kibosh on that setup.
The other character I kind of hate is a senior who wants Seiji to take over the school since he’s “Mad Dog” Sawamura. Problem is, he’s become tamer as of late, so she attacks him with various minions like a hitman, a missing link, and a sumo wrestler. “Oh boy!” I said. “So we’ll get some stories like this? Seiji casually beating up mooks? This should be great!” It was… for the chapter and two pages it existed for. Having the senior as a recurring character feels like a total waste. She does turn into a lesbian at the end, so that’s… good? I don’t really know. That’s the problem, her character is mostly just there. I prefer her quiet lesbian friend, who threatens Seiji after he rejects the senior’s love confession. Still, feels too rushed.
Now we get to the brunt of the review: Ayase Versus Midori. Who deserved Seiji more? If it wasn’t obvious by the title, Midori wins Seiji in the end. But there is a vocal minority who feels that Ayase should have won him over.
Let’s look at our ladies. Midori is a rich girl with a shy demeanor and a kind heart. God or Fate or Time has to intervene so she can tell Seiji how she feels. So really, all she does is make herself nuts over the fact that she can’t talk to this guy. In the end, she confesses because, while she doesn’t remember being a hand, she feels more confident.
Ayase is a prude, but she has a feminine side to her. She’s a genius, but is clueless when it comes to telling Seiji how she feels. Instead of just coming out with it, she fumbles and twitches using schemes and tricks to try to get her way. At first, it’s kind of funny, but after a while, Ayase becomes sympathetic. It all comes to a head when she finally works up her courage to tell Seiji how she feels. He rejects her because he’s in love with Midori.
Ayase might not have been the best option for Seiji. They say opposites attract, but Seiji simply didn’t like her that way. When Ayase blurts out how she feels the first time, he thinks, “Maybe I’ll just say, ‘I love you too!’ …Wait, that’s not true.” So the love wasn’t even there. I can see why, though.
Ayase can never be honest, not with herself and not with Seiji. Sure, she schemes, but she also goes back on her own words. “I was just joking about being in love with you!” Her character is cheapened because of it. Even after Seiji rejects her, she refuses to be honest. “WHEW! Glad that’s off my chest! See you tomorrow!” *runs away from Seiji, looks up at a lamppost, cries* She can’t face her feelings, so the lies are simply easier to take.
In contrast, Midori is consistently honest. Okay, not to the letter, but she doesn’t scheme. She flat-out tells Seiji how she feels, even if he doesn’t reciprocate immediately. In a sense, she’s the more worthwhile choice in the long run. She might run from her life, but never from the truth.
What I like about Midori Days is that it doesn’t focus on what the cause of this is. There’s Rin’s boyfriend, who explains that there’s hieroglyphics of a man with a human on his hand (Rin’s boyfriend also carries a Dragonball and a book from Zatchbell with him [which is made even better considering the author is friends with Zatch Bell’s creator]), not to mention Midori’s mother learns from a Native American that Midori’s soul caused it, but it never goes into more than that. But the point of the series is the way Midori has touched the lives of other people.
However, while the manga is “Midori Days”, it SHOULD be called “Seiji Days”. Yes, it focuses on Midori, but Seiji’s the one who grows the most. At first, he would have taken Ayase or Lucy flat out. But now he only wants Midori, which shows how much he had changed from the first chapter. And that’s what I love about Midori Days. Does it have Midori’s breasts flat-out in the first chapter? Yes. Does it ruin the manga, or put Midori in situations that can get her topless? NO. It does not! Kazurou Inoue cares about all of his characters, not just the ones that can get nakedest the fastest. Male or female, human or hand, this is one series that has heart, soul, and rhythm.
And now, since you’ve been such good little girls and boys, I leave you with outtakes from the Midori Days anime. Next time, something spooktacular, here on The Manga Connoisseur blog.