Midori Days Vol. 2
Never before has something so weird been so incredibly adorable!
Let's face it; at first glance, Midori no Hibi (or Midori Days, as it's called over here in the States) is a little unsettling. It's a series about a guy and the hand-sized girl who lives on, well, his hand. That is, in place of a hand, Seiji Sawamura has a diminutive little girl named Midori.
Neither of them is sure how she got there. Her full-sized body is asleep, seemingly unconscious at her home.
The only thing that Midori is certain of is the fact that she loves Seiji, that she has always loved Seiji, and that while her current situation is bizarre, she's quite alright with being an integral part of her beloved's life... and body. Before she found herself as Seiji's right hand, she only admired him from afar, never finding the courage to express her feelings directly. Now that she's extremely close to him (literally), she has no trouble in letting him know how much she cares for him.
However, Seiji is not exactly thrilled about Midori's arrival. He has a wide-reaching reputation as a student to be feared. Known for the supernatural power of his "demon right hand," Mad-Dog Sawamura was a force to be reckoned with. Most people knew him as a bully's bully, and for a good reason.
On the other hand... well, now Midori is on his other hand. The real Seiji -- the Seiji that Midori fell in love with -- only fights when he has to. He hates it when strong people pick on the weak, thus he finds himself defending the defenseless in fights more often than he'd like. Despite his scary reputation and his seemingly irritable personality, Seiji is secretly a kind, warm and lonely guy who just wants a girlfriend.
Granted, he didn't exactly ask to have a girlfriend sprouting out of his wrist in the place of his hand, but you take what you can get, right?
Once readers get past the premise, odd as it may be, they will find that Midori Days can hold its own with any other romantic comedy out there. Midori is the perfect girlfriend, even if Seiji doesn't realize it. The problem of getting her back into her true body is secondary to the love story between the two characters. Within the book, they experience all of the typical scenarios that one might expect to find in a romance manga. There's the obligatory hot springs episode, the awkward bathing scenes, Seiji's annoyingly genki older sister, additional love interests -- the whole shebang.
Yet Inoue offers a different take on some of these time-honored romantic clichés. While Midori does indeed have a classmate who loves her, the hand-sized Midori gets an admirer of her own when a doll collector sneaks a peek at her. Naturally, he doesn't immediately realize that Midori is more than just a fancy imported figurine, but when he does, things are sure to become more interesting.
Character designs and the artistry of the work are good, but Inoue's work truly shines in illustrating the teeny tiny Midori in various situations. Nothing is cuter than a six inch tall girl in a hand-sewn t-shirt sneezing. Period. The expressions clearly illustrate the feelings of the on-page characters, and given Seiji's proclivity for being shocked/enraged/dumbfounded, it's a good thing that the manga-ka shows talent in rendering feelings with ink.
As far as the story's translation goes, it is pretty faithful to the original, but if I had to single out a nitpicky point, I have to admit that I'm not too fond of the word "dis." Perhaps other people appreciate it when they see outdated American street slang thrown into a Japanese love story, but it's just a little out of place here. It's just not that funny, and if anything, it inspires an involuntary shudder of awkwardness. For the most part, the writing team does a fine job. Strained Americanization is a problem that is not limited to VIZ Media's adaptations, but still, it is something that I'd like to see vanish from manga translations one day.
Other than the artificial slang of the series at times, it reads very naturally. There are no noticeable technical errors, such as typos or grammatical mistakes, and aside from the odd out-of-character ghetto speak, the characters talk like regular, believable people.
There are a few extras in the back, including the author's relation of an incident involving the god of manga himself, although a four-panel strip that was in color in the original Japanese edition is printed in black and white here. Still, I'm happy enough with the strip’s inclusion.
Midori Days is a quirky series that is endearing not in spite of its unusual elements, but because of them. This imaginative work effortlessly pulls readers past the gimmick of attaching a girl to a guy's arm to deliver a very entertaining romantic comedy. It's different, which is always a cause for celebration. While I can't help but wonder how they will handle the bathroom situation (does Midori even have that sort of bodily function?), the cuteness of the story keeps me from dwelling too much on such awkward issues. If that's not a sign of quality, I don't know what is.