From the creator of A Channel comes a work that will make you think very hard about the national age of consent in Japan.
Let it be known that this isn’t my first venture into a story with a questionable romance between two characters of a very large age gap. Miman Renai is a manga similar in this vein that I absolutely adore for how expressive and carefree it is, while taking the matter of the main pseudo-relationship (somewhat) seriously. Nevertheless, the intentions of the author with this work remain in a place where I question their moral conscience.
I wouldn’t be opening the post like this if I wasn’t confident that there is something murky under the surface. Aside from the rather lax stance the story takes on the legal ramifications of a relationship between a boy in college and a girl in middle school (through humor-based comments by the male lead), the author likes to focus on “assets” through their art. This may not be labeled as an ecchi, but it’s somewhat like a soft ecchi, where there isn’t enough blatant sexuality to label it so, but what is there is notable. The other notable aspect is that the subjects of the ecchi elements are mostly the middle schoolers.
There’s a particular character named Nozo who, from what I can tell, is the same age as the female lead, Amari (who I’d guess to be 13; the male lead thought she was a grade schooler). Nozo is an eccentric, carefree spirit that’s somewhat similar to the blond girl in the author’s other work, A Channel. She is also shown in a number (I counted four) of sexually-stimulating positions (two showing her bare rear). I’m not really sure what her place in the story is—perhaps a comic relief to ease tension—but it kind of felt like she was there to appeal to a certain niche.
With this little “trigger warning” of sorts out of the way, allow me to elaborate more on the story at hand.
Minimalist is one term, Amarimawari is another. There isn’t so much a story to this piece as much as it is a certain gimmick that leads to a slice-of-life, mini-story-every-chapter thing. With only thirty-one chapters consisting of, on average, fourteen pages, there is only so much the author can do with each chapter, so the continuation of whatever happens from previous chapters feels minimal. Really, a lot of what happens feels pretty inconsequential; the reader is introduced to a premise, that wears off, and the characters end up becoming the focal point… and the characters aren’t great.
If there are any props to give, it is in making the male lead not… completely dense and passive? His strange fascination with cute things (mostly shown through dogs) is, at the very least, different, and provides him with a little simmer of uniqueness. Unfortunately, he doesn’t show this enough, especially not outside the confines of the main “story”—such as when he’s at home alone, or not interacting with other major players. There’s one chapter (outside the first) where this occurs, one chapter where I was able to see him as his own character. Generally, though, he’s ordinary.
The rest of the characters are also fairly ordinary. Amari is slightly fascinating because she acts more like she has something on the autistic spectrum than a normal child. (That is not meant to be an insult.) Her “sister” is a possessive mother figure with a sister complex, and has hints of attraction to the male lead because he “saved her” a couple times. Nothing new there. There’s Nozo, discussed earlier, as the expressive girl with a loose jailbait vibe. There’s a guy who always sleeps, and is joked to be some sort of emotional prostitute(?). It’s never really confirmed. And then there’s another boy who’s infatuated with Amari, but acts tough because that’s how boys have to act to be manly and attractive to the opposite sex. He has the one joke in this manga, stated with a single word, I found funny. All of which I named after Amari gets basically zero development whatsoever as characters.
Amarimawari also has a strange tone to it, where it borders on serious and satirical almost simultaneously. The relationship between the two leads is (oddly) taken fairly seriously. What the two really desire from one another is a little more obscure, as Amari is attracted to the male lead’s dyed-blond hair (seriously). Moments within the story, particularly those looking at Amari’s feelings for the male lead, often end with a gag that insinuates Amari’s only in it to fondle his head of hair. The male lead, albeit with thoughts of “No, this is wrong! She’s a child!”, starts seeing Amari in a sexual light by the end, though makes no effort to indulge those urges (he strongly hesitates even hugging her). This makes the overall message of the story hard to decipher. Is this trying to showcase that romantic relationships (in-waiting?) between large age gaps can be acceptable? Is it simply appealing to the lolicon audience? Is the author a lolicon themselves? Does it mean anything? It certainly doesn’t seem like the story’s making relationships between a middle-schooler and college student a bad thing.
Sometimes I wonder why I’m even still reading A Channel. (I literally had to check to see if I was still reading it after I typed that.) Then I remember that the author’s art style is very appealing to me. I’m not sure what it is, but there’s a certain softness, a certain “moe” touch to this particular mangaka’s art that pulls me in without effort. The women look absolutely adorable—even the men look feminine. I wasn’t sure the dude who sleeps all the time was even male at first. Nevertheless, the art is still in nice shape here, even if by technical standards it isn’t fantastic. Not a lot of variety to backgrounds or settings, though the cuteness factor is consistently pretty high.
There are some signals to this story that are a little disturbing to me, though I don’t think the case is strong enough to outright label it “Lolicon Porn.” “Lolicon Pandering,” however, is a definite. The story of a little girl eventually falling for a college-aged boy, who eventually falls for her in return, is taken in a light-hearted and inconsequential manner. Much like the entirety of the title itself, this aloofness is the nail in the coffin, never truly directing the course for stable ground by the eventual sinking point. It’s a pretty lackluster story with cute art and some cute moments, even if those moments are laced with some morally-repugnant odors.
The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.
If you’d like to see more reviews like this, feel free to look at my full list of manga reviews!