Showing posts with label Kaneyoshi Izumi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kaneyoshi Izumi. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Manga Realness: "Doubt!!" by Kaneyoshi Izumi

Here we are guys; readers and friends of Comic Towel.  Manga enthusiasts and those curious enough to take my loved titles as recommendations, I present to you Manga Realness Number Two: Kaneyoshi Izumi’s Doubt!!.  But first, this is not based on Yoshiki Tonogai's manga series with the same name.  

The New Ai Maekawa
Coming from my loathsome sessions plodding through the Peach Girl manga series (which I bailed out on), Doubt!! did a good job dissolving the growing weariness I gathered from reading about Japanese schoolgirls who allowed her peers to run over her.  Translated as “bullying”, the Japanese term ijime describes this type of behavior seen in many school-based manga stories.  Now that’s not to say there wasn’t a supply of this in the five volumes that make up the complete series of Doubt!!.  After all, it wouldn’t be a shojo manga series without melodrama, plaid skirts, sharp-jawed boys, love triangles, depraved ijime, and the misunderstood tanned student with duck lips.  Nevertheless, the more or less distinct difference is that the protagonist in Doubt!! was (or at least started out) a little more on my temperamental level when it comes to not accepting crap from others.

Will So's past break his relationship with Ai?
A six volume shojo series crossing Romance and Slice of Life, Doubt!! tells the school life story of Ai Maekawa, an overlooked junior high teen who turns her image around to begin an acknowledged, new life in high school.  Armed with a new haircut and pimple cream, this transformation jumps off the series after a small prologue recounts her last embarrassing moment in junior high.  Feeling a lot more confident in her looks, Ai enters high school with the admiring eyes of her peers.  In turn, she suddenly finds herself in the mix of two of the school’s popular boys, So Ichinose and Yuichiro Kato.  A seemingly over flirtive (another word I made up) womanizer with a sketchy background related to his childhood, So Ichinose literally scoops Ai up and hangs off her backside during the first chapter of their meeting.  Why?  Because she is new, cute, and prospective-looking to his limbido.  Alternatively, his best friend, Yuichiro Kato, hangs back to admire Ai from afar, while berating So for his overzealous flirting.  The boys are two sides of the same coin, and as the placidly cool Yuichiro grows feelings for Ai, and Ai grows feelings for So, So tackles the difficult task of keeping his checkered past out of sight and from drawing a line between him and Ai.  Meanwhile, Ai has to battle her own past, as figures from then emerge to wreck her sudden popularity and budding relationship with the boys.  This all befits the web of drama that makes up Doubt!!.  And it only gets juicier as each of their secrets are revealed.

Now, what hooked me to this series…

Does Yuichiro stand a chance with Ai?
Some can say that the determination for Ai’s transformation reinforces how girls cater to a cultural obsession with looks and social popularity.  However, to me, Ai changing her looks installed in her that she is worth more than she believed before.  She didn’t think she was cute.  She didn’t think she would ever get a boyfriend.  She didn’t think too much of herself.  Then she decided to move away from that frame of thinking and make a change.  Granted, it can appear shallow for her to believe that looks is the beginning of this inner and outer transformation; nonetheless, her doing so sparked a fighting spirit inside of her.  I don't know about you, but I've always admired individuals who can make a change and take charge of their lives.  Seriously, how many people can wake up and decide to do battle with their issues instead of feeling sorry for themselves?  That's why I liked Ai and dedicated myself to reading her story. 

Still, her story doesn't stop there because soon she has to defend her new attitude--which kept me further invested in her story. 

Ai's ijime became jealousy-driven once she reached high school.  The girls who did not know of Ai’s past chose to bully her because she was pretty and gained the attention of the most popular boys in school.  However, driven by the torture she experienced in junior high, as well as her will to remain consistent in separating herself from those experiences emotionally, Ai did not back down from this new misconception that her bullies formed about her.  After all, the fight from her previous slew of misconceptions built enough character to combat the other.

At one point a student expressed: “Pretty girls get everything handed to them.  You don’t know what life is really like.”  Instead of succumbing like during her past insecurities, Ai chooses to stand up (quite violently I must add) for herself under the realization that the ijime she faced in junior high has only changed.  While she is somewhat thankful to be labeled "pretty", it did not come easy.  Therefore, she sure as hell wasn't willing to let someone taunt her about something they knew nothing about in regards to her emotional struggles.  So the best thing for her to do was to shut it down before it started.  And that's what she did when she fought back for her respect.  

This resonated with my experience adjusting from junior high to high school.  Like Ai, it was this adjustment that let me know that I didn’t have to take crap from anyone else anymore, and that I wasn‘t so unattractive that I needed to lay in my own darkness.  What I believed for myself was exactly what I had a right to pursue.  I didn’t have to lie in my shell any longer because there was nothing wrong with being confident, loud, and even obnoxiously cheerful.  So take control of your life when you find it necessary.  You’re going to come across opposition of some sort any way.  Might as well attempt to make the best of yourself in the process.  Feed confidence into your emotional diet even if that means changing your looks.  And most of all, stop feeling sorry for yourself.  Give yourself some credit for moving through life itself.

If you could go back to junior high or high school, what would you do differently?

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