MANGA: He's an Absolute Doll
Written by
Lyn Jensen
May 2011
Written by
Lyn Jensen
May 2011

Manga Review: Absolute Boyfriend


(This review is revised and updated from one that originally appeared in LA Alternative, 4/21-27/06.)


Women have been putting up with pop culture plots about sexy robo-females for so long, it's about time somebody came up with something that makes guys into subservient machines for women.  We've patiently waited through male-fantasy fetishes ranging from Weird Science to The Stepford Wives to Duran Duran and their "Electric Barbarella."  Even the brilliant women of CLAMP joined the wish-fulfillment-for-guys trend with their Chobits manga.


Finally, for once, Yuu Watase has given us Absolute Boyfriend and with it, a woman's fantasy about a robo-guy.  As a romance that combines fantasy, sci-fi, and comedy, Absolute Boyfriend may be a gimmick--but what sets it apart from the often insipid shojo (girls') manga is that it's actually funny and poignant at the same time. 


"I had this vision in my head, a naked guy tumbling out of a box," writes Watase on her sidebar to the first episode.  (As shojo fans know, this genre's artists always include a gossipy sidebar for their fans.)  "Normally I'd just laugh it off as the wild fantasies of a single woman, but I'm a manga artist."


Bless the manga artist for turning her wild fantasies into a best-selling six-volume graphic novel series.  Rika is a flop with guys until she meets a salesman who's not your average suit-and-tie type.  He's some kind of fetishist or cosplayer, and he persuades the socially inept schoolgirl to try out his company's "Night Lover" model.  Once the life-size, err, action figure comes out of the--box--and puts his clothes on, turns out Rika's stuck with him unless she can negotiate a deal.  Further complications include absent parents, a boy next door and a treacherous best friend.


Watase has been one of the most popular Japanese shojo manga artists for more than a decade.  She debuted in 1989 with "Pajama De Ojama" in the Shojo Comics Manga anthology.  Since then she's drawn long-running hits including Alice 19th and Ceres, Celestial Legend.  Her manga works have spawned novels, anime, and two Japanese TV series. 


Absolute Boyfriend isn’t an adults-only manga, but being rated for “older teens,” with a “parential advisory” for “suggestive themes,” it’s nearly so.


Let's be friends

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