Twins Megumu and Mitsuru have very different personalities. Megumu is a history and gaming nerd and her best friends at her all-girl high school are otakus, or serious manga fans. Mitsuru is a ladies’ man, and despite his small stature, he’s very involved in sports at his all-boys school—but all that doesn’t help him when he starts failing history and discovers that make-up classes will interfere with his dating life! This being a romantic comedy, the natural solution is for the twins to switch places, but much to their surprise, they each find something unexpected at their new schools. From pretty girls who aren’t so pretty behind the scenes, to learning more about each other than they ever wanted to know, Megumu and Mitsuru are in for a wild ride when they switch places for a week. The romance begins when they both fall in love for the first time, Megumu with tough guy Aoi and Mitsuru with sweet Shino, both of whom have their own secrets. The first arc of the story ends with the discovery of the twins’ switch and hints at more drama and romance to come in future volumes.
Ikeyamada does surprisingly well depicting the cross-dressing twins without confusing their genders. Even when he’s dressed in a cute sailor suit and wig to match his sister’s hair, Mitsuru still retains his innate personality and masculinity, and his enthusiasm and self-confidence shine through. Megumu, on the other hand, can dress in her brother’s clothes but she’s still shy and unsure, concerned about others and hopeful of finding true love (much to the shock of the tough boys at her brother’s school). Ikeyamada also includes some physical diversity, which isn’t something I’ve ever seen in manga before (although I am not an extensive reader). Megumu’s crush, Aoi Sanada, has an eye-patch, and Mitsuru’s love interest, Shino, is deaf. However, I’m not sure about the accuracy of the sign language, and at one point it is suggested that one should speak slowly for Shino to be able to lip read, which I understand to be pretty simplistic advice.
This romantic comedy is sticky-sweet, but that’s exactly what’s promised in the cover copy. The first two volumes in this series include lots of humor and cheerful romance, as well as many context clues and references only a serious manga fan will recognize. There is a glossary at the end of each book to help out and frequent interjections from the author, but readers who are not familiar with manga tropes and conventions may find it frustrating. The series also includes snippets of Japanese history, which may pique the interest of some readers to check out the historical references—or they can just enjoy this light-hearted story.
While the first volume doesn’t contain anything inappropriate—lots of sighing and flirting and some mild fight scenes—the second volume earns its Teen rating with mild language, partial nudity, explorations of sexuality, and a disturbing scene in which Aoi is sexually assaulted by a teacher.
So Cute it Hurts!! vols. 1-2
by Go Ikeyamada
Vol 1 ISBN: 9781421579856
Vol 2 ISBN: 9781421579863
Publisher Age Rating: Teen