Updated Thoughts on Miman Renai

miman renai 1

I did this in my last post for this manga, too, but I’ll reiterate just to be safe:

I do not condone the relationship between adults and young teenagers. This work is purely fictional and about 50% unrealistic and 50% overpure.

In my first trial with Miman Renai, I thought the series was a cute, albeit unrealistic and uninspiring story of forbidden love between an overly sweet 29-year-old and overly sweet 13-year-old. The fact that both are so overbearingly pure may make this series a turn-off based on how scared the male lead, knowing his position, is of confessing his feelings for what is essentially a child to him. Many others, I’m sure, would be turned off by the taboo themes presented right within the synopsis, but reading through this twice, neither are jumping at the chance to sleep with one another, much less hold hands (The covers are a lie). So, it’s taboo in potential only.

miman renai 3

Upon my second reading, much of my feelings of the story and characters are the same way. Kurose, the 29-year-old, has a behavior around Tomoe, the 13-year-old, that would appear as incredibly creepy if the story were from her perspective. While the reader has the benefit of knowing he has no ill intentions because they follow his mindset and character, from Tomoe’s viewpoint, looking up her school, taking oranges to her, and infiltrating her school on what is essentially a Parent-Teacher Conference are all very vivid red flags. Kurose working at an adult gaming company also doesn’t help. Of course, she doesn’t question any of this due to her incredible naivety. The realism of this manga, only from the perspective of Tomoe, immediately becomes shot because no one would be this trusting of Kurose’s behavior. The fact that she is trusting, and blindly devoted to him at almost every turn, makes for an incredibly eerie representation of what leads kids into being kidnapped, or worse.

Taboo/icky possibilities aside, the struggles of this forbidden romance are fairly standard, as well. People tell Kurose (and vice-versa with Tomoe) that they shouldn’t be seeing one another, while the two leads themselves struggle to find a balance between being friends and remaining faithful (Though the latter is more just from Kurose’s mindset). A lot of the drama could’ve been further improved by letting it fester within the minds of the leads (God knows Tomoe could’ve used some depth), as instead the manga decides to bring it up as a means of driving the two apart only to get back together some two or three chapters later. Not to mention, there’s a lot of underlying side conflict, including Kurose’s traumatic past of being bullied and his relationship with his game company’s busty president, that are barely explored whatsoever. This one-track mindset keeps the focus primarily on the leads’ relationship and nothing more, which is disappointing with how wishy-washy a lot of it is, mostly through misunderstandings.

With how I describe it, one would think that this series was rather unimpactful. On the contrary, after reading this for the second time, the score shot up tremendously and catapulted to among my favorite manga. So what makes this series so wonderful?

Expression

ohyes

Vitality

ohyes 2

Look at this wonderful burst of energy, enthusiasm, a love for character exuberance and a passion for drawing and artistic expression! This type of illustrating style that allows the characters to pop, to become more than just drawings on paper! This intoxicating display of pure, unadulterated vigor is so wonderfully executed that I cannot help but love it! It reminds me a lot of Studio Trigger at their finest, the sequences of series such as Kill la Kill or Little Witch Academia that stray from the realm of reality and take on a level of artistry that becomes so enveloping from passion alone.

miman renai 5

Of course, this level of pure fun isn’t present at all times, but the mangaka does what she can to make both the small, inconsequential moments and serious periods of self-reflection all the more alluring with her vividness. Some examples (like the picture above) can be criticized for being too simplistic in an effort to ease up on the workload. For me, this doesn’t matter if I’m laughing at how amusing all of these character transformations look and how it impacts the rampant enjoyment I’m getting out of reading it. Miman Renai is one of those rare examples where a manga, in an objective sense isn’t worth more than a five out of ten, is launched into much higher territory from a gargantuan amount of subjective love.

miman renai 2

Despite the taboo themes, the standard story, the unsatisfied potential of side plots, the brilliance of Tomoe’s naivety, and the tiring, self-inflicted, off-and-on romantic endeavor, Miman Renai is a manga that gets by with its emotional gusto and artistic flavor. It is among my favorite manga because it managed to completely override my mechanical circuitry and allow my heart to dance in the way most “normies'” would upon seeing a new trailer for the latest Star Wars film. While not mentally moved by my passion for deep, multi-layered stories of love and loss, Miman Renai has that once-in-a-lifetime quality that speaks to me on an absurd personal level, an intangible quality that is hard to really articulate into words. All I can do is spam more pictures from the story because I love them.

miman renai 4

I reread this manga on a whim, fueled only by a slight desire to revisit the wacky faces of the characters. What I unearthed was an undiscovered, but always present adoration for a story that really probably doesn’t deserve it. It’s a simple tale that only sticks out based on the huge age gap between its characters and the innocent manner it portrays it with. Despite everything else, Miman Renai executes itself through means of giddy expression, one that had gone relatively unnoticed by me for nearly a year and a half. I stick by it, too; the only reason I have to recommend this manga is due to the mangaka’s lovely expressiveness and nothing more. Perhaps it’ll give you, the reader, the same appreciation for art it did for me.

The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.

Thoughts on Miman Renai

miman renai

Chances are, if you’ve heard of this manga and considered reading it, you were turned off by the alarming synopsis.

A 29-year-old man that works as an ero-game producer and has never been in a romantic relationship before falls in love with a thirteen-year-old girl. Well that is certainly different. I flocked to some MyAnimeList reviews to see if this story would become something I would feel uncomfortable reading. Those present gave me the satisfaction of knowing that no crimes are committed within this story, so I decided to give it a try.

Boy, did I not regret it.

One of the particular reviews also noted that the drawing style wasn’t entirely good. I, on the other hand, disagree completely and wholeheartedly. Miman Renai‘s style of illustration is absolutely insane. The expressions are vivid and not only break the barriers of reality, but contorts reality itself. The amount of artistic freedom this manga gets away with is astounding and makes it much more than just another love story (aside from the age difference of the stars). I found myself laughing and saving a good amount of panels from Miman Renai, which I will happily share throughout the course of this entry. It is far and wide the most notable aspect of this manga and it made the story and characters all the more fun to devour. Disclaimer: I would not “devour” thirteen-year-old girls.

ohno3

Setting aside the artistic eruption within the pages, the story and characters are a little less impressive in scope. I’m grown to enjoy the pairing of “Tomoe-chan” and Kurose, the stars of the manga. However, they’re incredibly unrealistic. Kurose is someone who works in a job that (presumably) pays moderately enough and is good at what he does, earning him a reputation as the president of his company’s right hand man. He is also kind and courteous and thinks of others before his own good (Blech). Despite this, he has never had a girlfriend and has a very low self-esteem, as well as a draining amount of motivation for life or anything else. This is somewhat highlighted by the fact that he sports a giant, curly afro underneath his beanie and his inattentive lifestyle (hardly bathes, shaves, changes clothes, etc.). Perhaps I could get behind this lack of motivation as a justification for him not “succeeding” in life, but it’s shown that the President of the company: an attractive, well-endowed woman (yeah, okay), is smitten with him, and has been for quite some time. So… why did that never amount to anything? On the other hand, if he wished so badly as a child to get into game development or programming, and then accomplished his goal, why isn’t he happy with where he is? I feel as a character, he’s written too bleakly. He has all the benefits to make him an independent and strong character, but instead he’s just mopey all the time for no reason.

In the case of Tomoe, she’s so oblivious and, dare I say stupid, to be taken seriously. Despite the fact that a 29-year-old man is trying very hard to remain in contact with her despite having nothing to do with her, her family, or her future, while also constantly asking to meet up, she takes it at face value. Some other writers would brush this off as her “seeing him for who he is and not for what he could be,” but the way it’s put together simply screams pedophile or sexual predator, regardless of whether or not his intentions are pure, and she doesn’t bat an eye! Even upon the urging of her best friend to stay away from him, Tomoe still hardly sees it as a real possibility. To make things worse, she’s also shown to be an honor student, y’know, people who are typically really smart and attentive? Yet she sees her situation with Kurose as A-OK? Alright, yeah, sure. Even after learning that he works as an ero-game developer, she only distances herself due to her friend’s constant protection. Look, I understand that his intentions are pure, but she can’t even be a little suspicious? A little creeped out? A little hesitant? It’s so convenient that these two are perfect for each other because they’re both written to ramp up the plot and not to be logical.

ohno5

The story itself is pretty by-the-numbers. Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love. Girl is oblivious because she’s stupid (and young). Boy freaks out over how to progress the relationship. Conflicts occur, hurdles are raised. So on and so forth. A good portion of the manga’s progression is just Kurose making hilarious faces as he stumbles upon different (usually pessimistic) scenarios in his head. It’s not a story that will enthrall you with creativity, but I enjoyed the way it incorporated the realistic side effects of the kind of situation Tomoe and Kurose are placed in. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy Kurose and Tomoe’s chemistry, because I did, but it’s just too formulaic and unbelievable as a story piece. Not to mention, some of the resolutions set forth by the characters are some that others from different settings would choose to do, making the story a tad cliché. “Oh, no. I realize I’m not worthy of you. I’m gonna distance myself without telling you because communication is stupid and wouldn’t drag a story out longer.” Fuck you, Miman Renai.

I was also fairly disappointed with the lack of overall depth given to the side characters. There are some characters that appear more than others, and even drive the main two characters to act or behave in certain ways. Otherwise, pretty panel surfers. They have their opinions, their viewpoints, but never really any multi-dimensional personality. Some are just protective, some are just petty. Others are nerdy, weebish, an asshole, or “the rival.” God, have I mentioned how much I despise love triangles in stories? Not just any love triangles, but the love triangles that happen as a last resort when the writer has no other cliché storylines to choose from? Kimi ni Todoke did it. Lovely Complex did it. Miman Renai does it, too. Fuck me. Anyway, the character list doesn’t offer a wide variety of complex, fully-developed stage performers. It’s the one man, one girl show, and everyone else is on the outside looking in.

What was considerably more noticeable in this manga that other manga like this seem to fall short on is the comedy aspect. Can you believe that I’m not one who typically laughs at anime/manga? You can? Well… anyway, I thought Miman Renai was far more gut-punting than other titles. It’s mostly the overreaction of expressions, but it’s done in a way that it’s not cartoon-ish, but rather a subtle disposition of facial features. The style of character portrayal ranges from incredibly dark and serious to almost chibi-like and clay foam. It seems almost to the point of parody, but I can appreciate the almost imperfect style of drawings pertaining to reactions and realizations in the story. Even in a minimalist fashion, the art somehow manages to be funny. The mood that the art portrays almost makes the reader forget about the taboo themes the story presents.

ohno

On a romantic level, the story is so-so. Again, I enjoy the chemistry between the two main characters, but they’re too unrealistic as characters and with the level of “okey-dokeyness” with their relationship to take seriously. It’s almost like fan fiction, except the fan writing the fiction is a fan of child porn.

Also the ending is awful and terrible and I hate it and it should not be the ending rantrantrantrantrantrantrantrantrantrant

An immensely enjoyable manga for the art and the almost carefree representation of taboo themes, Miman Renai is something I would absolutely recommend. Though, it’s not something of a masterpiece in terms of storytelling or character development. It’s a mindless time-waster and a great treasure trove of reaction images, if you’re into that kind of thing. However, while Kurose doesn’t touch or think of Tomoe in any suggestive way, his undeniable obsession with her is within the boundaries of stalker-like fascination. So be warned: moments of discomfort are in store for those willing to pick this up. Fortunately, his intentions are pure enough to get by relatively unscathed.

The rating for this title and all others can be found on MyAnimeList.