Wait, no lewdness warning?
Right, Honto no Kanojo (ほんとのかのじょ, The Real Her) by Imamura Yoko (今村陽子) is a rather pure-hearted and cute manga. It’s also very short, so I probably won’t be saying much about it!
This is a yuri manga, a romance manga, a comedy manga, and an S&M (that is sadomasochism/sadism & masochism) manga that’s sweet, fluffy and generally all around nice. It also has a great portrait of a relationship, and in its mere 13 chapters accomplishes a rather full-feeling love story.
The story follows two characters, Moe (on the left) and Yuuka (on the right). Just prior to the manga’s start, these two were friends. The manga begins with Moe confessing her love to Yuuka, who rejects her.
And for what it’s worth, Yuuka doesn’t make a quick turn around in chapter 1, falling for her anyway.
The most obvious reason for the rejection to the reader should be “they’re both girls, so Yuuka’s not interested”, but you might be surprised — Yuuka absolutely never brings this up and nor does it ever come to her mind. Her actual reasoning is that she suspects Moe’s fallen for a farce of a personality that she likes putting up to avoid being alone/to attract people. She maintains it even though she doesn’t even really care about some of the people in her circle of friends.
It’s small, but you get a hint that Yuuka (who seems like a generic popular girl) has a little bit of depth to her. Amidst her little funk here, Moe cheers her up a bit.
And there’s your premise, for the most part. It’s hinted throughout chapter one but made clear very quickly that Moe is an ENORMOUS masochist (that is a person who gets off on abuse and physical harm), and part of the reason she admires Yuuka is that she can detect compatible sadism (that is a tendency to get off on inflicting abuse and physical harm) from the girl. Yuuka denies this fervently, but on several occasions shows that Moe’s intuition is spot on. Other than this, she likes how Yuuka never brings up the potential “both girls” problem, which is nice in case the reader didn’t notice.
After this, Yuuka and Moe become closer friends, and the rest of the series is Yuuka trying to learn more about Moe’s interests and falling for her in return.
So, this manga’s REAL short and therefore talking about it much more is almost a ridiculous prospect, but despite its shortness there is a LOT I like about it. Let’s go over some of those things:
- I like how very quickly it establishes that Moe doesn’t simply love Yuuka for her S (sadism) potential, but that she started becoming interested in her since Yuuka was kind.
- I like how Yuuka began their friendship based on her own troubled past (which is only hinted at), so without saying anything outright you can determine that the two of them have a special connection different from the rest of their friends.
- I like that this series almost completely lacks drama, even when it implies some more serious issues (I’ll let you see what for yourself).
- I like how it portrays the S&M dominance/submission relationship with some maturity and understanding, allowing you to see from both perspectives what might make this sort of relationship appealing. I also like that the S&M aspect isn’t the ONLY aspect of Yuuka and Moe’s budding romance.
This series is a bit like Nana to Kaoru, which should come as no surprise if you know about it (it’s an S&M romance manga), only it’s much less perverted and significantly less extreme. It also has a much greater focus on comedy and the relationship of the main characters has clear and quick progress without any real speed bumps. Plus, it’s far sweeter (Nana to Kaoru is rather sweet at times, too)!
Surprisingly, it’s also paced very well. Moe is already long gone to the allure of S&M (and the ways she pushes it are pretty hilarious), but Yuuka’s turn over takes time, and as outlined in an earlier point as the reader we get to see how and why she begins to, uh, “see the light” (I guess).
The relationship isn’t one sided at all. Not only in a basic romance sense (Moe loves the strong, kind, openly arrogant and S-leaning Yuuka; Yuuka ends up loving the cute, submissive, funny Moe who makes nice pained/pleasured expressions) but in a story structure sense as well. We get most narrative perspective from Yuuka, yes, but the series starts with Moe taking perspective and we occasionally get her thoughts throughout, all in all leading to a very easy to understand love, even though it has a lot to do with a rather notorious class of fetishes. I have a great respect for any story that explains clearly why fetishes don’t have to just be horrible things kept to the bedroom, but that the source of them can be pure and gentle love as anything else in romance.
In summary, this series is a treasure. Most definitely worth a read so long as you have no issue with yuri. It is all in all, in a word, “lovable”.
This series is one volume long, you can buy that one volume from Bookwalker (guide), CDJapan, honto (guide), or ebookjapan. It is a very quick read and a very good experience. Funny note, this is the first series I’ve reviewed to experience TOTAL LIST DOMINATION in the directory. Highly recommended comfy, weird, yuri manga. Or was it Anko-san of the Deep Sea Fish? No… I highly recommended that some time AFTER the fact! I think.
Thank you for reading this review. See you next time.