Most little girls, it seems, want to grow up far faster than their bodies naturally do. Most every one can remember a private incident of make up and bra-stuffing to see what she might look like with womanly curves and a grown up style. Ah, the perils of getting what you wish for. Natsumi is your ordinary 5th grader, though she’s perhaps a bit more anxious than most girls to fill out and get sassy outfits. After being jilted (in her eyes) by her latest crush–the dreamy, 20-something hair dresser Yashiki–and being told she’s not adult enough to get free samples of nuts at the mall, she flips out, grabs the samples, and runs home to weep in private. Little does she know that these nuts are different – by the next morning, she’s grown into a drop-dead gorgeous teenager, and by the next evening she’s modeled and been on her first date. Teenhood is only temporary, however, as by the time she gets home she’s back to her 5th grader self. Soon she figures out that the nuts are the key – eat one and she’s a teen for almost a day. Once the scientist who mistakenly sent out the nuts finds her, though, Natsumi is starting to realize not only that there may be a price for sudden adulthood, but that maybe she’s not ready for adulthood just yet. Her best friend Asuma, accustomed to Natsumi’s obsessions with growing up, is at first astounded by his friend’s changes and then worried about its eventual consequences. He acts as her conscience and support even when he’s undoubtedly embarrassed and flustered by her new body and harboring his own not so hidden crush on her not matter what she looks like.

This comedy is often hilarious and very silly, but also focuses in on the problems that come with trying to live as an adult when you don’t have the experiences to back you up. There are moments that get a little unsettling for western readers, especially when the bikini clad Natsumi does the usual manga pratfall and ends up on top of young Asuma. Nonetheless, most of the sexual tension is more embarrassment than anything else, and Natsumi is usually good at figuring out when she isn’t ready for aspects of her new life as a teen model. Rated for ages ten and up, I’d say this story is most suited for middle school ages rather than any younger.

Instant Teen (Just Add Nuts), vol. 1
By Haruka Fukushima
ISBN: 1595321462
Tokyopop, 2004

  • Robin B.

    | She/Her Teen Librarian, Public Library of Brookline

    Editor in Chief

    Robin E. Brenner is Teen Librarian at the Brookline Public Library in Massachusetts. She has chaired the American Library Association Great Graphic Novels for Teens Selection List Committee, the Margaret A. Edwards Award Committee, and served on the Michael L. Printz Award Committee. She is currently the President of the Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table for ALA. She was a judge for the 2007 Eisner awards, helped judge the Boston Globe Horn Book Awards in 2011, and contributes to the Good Comics for Kids blog at School Library Journal. She regularly gives lectures and workshops on graphic novels, manga, and anime at comics conventions including New York and San Diego Comic-Con and at the American Library Association’s conferences. Her guide, Understanding Manga and Anime (Libraries Unlimited, 2007), was nominated for a 2008 Eisner Award.

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