The toughest part about Romance Month has definitely been picking what Yuri and body switching titles I should do. Both of these are way out of my area of expertise that I just don’t know where to begin, but I think I found good candidates. Under the Yuri title I chose Inside Mari, and whether or not it really is a yuri will be discussed later.
Inside Mari is by the same creator who did The Flowers of Evil, Drifting Net Cafe, and Happiness. The Flowers of Evil was what introduced me to him, and like most people I loved it. He takes care of his characters and lets them drive the story while also trying to give an actual meaning to his work, and you definitely see that in Inside Mari. Because I absolutely love this manga, and the fact that there’s so much to take away from this, I’ll be splitting this post into two parts: the review part so that I can tie it into romance month, but also a discussion part that will be put up at some later time so that I can really analyze the manga with you all.
Inside Mari is a fascinating story that starts off with a college drop out waking up in the body of a High School girl he’s been stalking….yep, not weird at all. Anyway, he panics and over the first few chapters starts to get used to his new girl body. What I love about this “getting to know you” section is that the college guy, Komori, absolutely idolized Mari, the body he’s in now, to the point where he will not look at her body when changing clothes, and tries his hardest not to go the bathroom because he thinks it will somehow taint her.
This was a great way to show funny scenes mixed with exposition as Komori is trying to understand who’s who in Mari’s life. From learning to close “her” legs while in class, to holding back from groping Mari’s best friend, it’s like watching Komori in hell where he sees so many sexy opportunities but isn’t allowed to touch, even though that’s his own rules.
When Komori meets Mari’s psuedo-classmate-stalker, Yori, they team up to find out what happened to Mari if Komori is indeed in Mari’s body. The dynamic between these two are great, because Yori is like Komori in that she sees Mari’s body as sacred, so she’ll constantly chastise Komori, insult him, or basically do anything you’ve seen girls do to guys in anime. But as they start to investigate what’s going on, questions start being uprooted after every layer they try to peel back. From finding out Mari followed Komori instead of the other way around, to Mari buying porn, to getting strange phone calls, and just everything that could drive you crazy when searching for the truth.
However, Inside Mari is ultimately about the exploration of sexuality. The series is plastered with social conventions vs what the self wants. Early on you get the impression that Yori may or may not be a lesbian, and a big theme running through these chapters is ‘what does it mean to be a girl.’ Oshimi really shows you the differences between guys and girls, and at times makes guys super creepy even though that’s exactly what they’d do, but the way he does this is to focus on the female perspective.
Take early on when Komori/Mari had to go to school. Not only did he have to remember not to open his legs up when sitting down, but he learned that lots of guys were looking at him. This happens in real life too, I’m sure every guy can tell you that at a certain age, when they realized girls were more than cooties, they would constantly sneak peaks at the girls they liked. What nobody bothers to mention in health class, though, is the fact that girls do know you’re looking at them, and Oshimi takes this opportunity to show a guy just how creepy and unnerving such an innocent act may be.
Another part I love about this manga is just how normal it tackles nudity, sexual urges, and masturbation while exploring sexuality. I mean, look at any manga for any age group and you’ll see girls are always sexualized. When Komori first wakes up in Mari’s body he does peak down her shirt and sees the outline of her breasts, and that was a close up which signifies arousal, and intended to be sexual, but when the nude scenes happen in later chapters nothing is really placed as a close up, and it’s portrayed as just natural.
The reason why I grabbed onto those moments is that this is subject matter that both the East and West tend to keep behind closed doors, and frankly we just don’t get many material that tackles this subject manner in a mature mindset.
Inside Mari is a wonderful manga that if it ever gets published in English I’d be first in line to pre-order it. The characters are so real that each chapter feels like it could tear out your heart strings, while also moving the plot along at a great pace. I definitely think that everybody should check this manga out, because it’s all tens for me, and pretty much everyone else who have read it. I’m not sure when I’ll post my discussion and in depth analysis of this series, but if you haven’t read it I suggest you go read it and come back for my next Inside Mari post, because it will be a lot of fun discussing it together (I know it will be at least a month since I post it).