Manga-ka: Eiki Eiki
Publisher: Doki Doki
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: July 2009
Synopsis: “Up until now, the most exciting part of Minori’s schoolgirl life has been playing video games… but one day, her skills win more than she ever could have imagined. When Minori beats some guy at the local arcade, suddenly he declares he’s going to marry her! When the same guy turns out to be none other than Kanata Okazaki – Japan’s newest, youngest-ever prime minister – Minori finds herself swept up in a world of politics and paparazzi. Is Kanata really in love with her?”
Suspension of disbelief is a tricky thing: push it too far and it will snap. A twenty-five year-old prime minister of Japan? All right. In real life, Japan’s just elected its fifth prime minister in four years, so why can’t one of them be really young and good-looking? But even the cutest world leader couldn’t get away with getting engaged to a sixteen-year-old high school student and having her move in with him. Factor in that he does all this against her will and it’s hard to believe this guy could get elected, let alone stay in power.
Minori is a typical teenager, in that she doesn’t really care about politics. One day she skips school to go play video games at an arcade. After she beats some strange guy at a game he declares that she will be his wife. Naturally, this freaks Minori out and she gets away from this strange man but later at home she happens to see the new prime minister, Kanata Okazaki, being sworn in on TV. With a shock, she realizes that it’s the same guy from the arcade.
Minori figures that since she never told him her name, that’s the last she’ll see of him. But she underestimates just how dedicated her stalker is. The next day Kanata Okazaki is waiting for her outside the school gates and next thing she knows he’s at her house, asking for her parent’s permission to marry her. Her parents give their consent full heartedly (“If she doesn’t want to, we’ll make her marry you!”).
Soon Minori is getting bullied by jealous classmates and harassed by reporters. To try and retain some degree of privacy, Minori moves into the prime minister’s residence. And the press and public seem not only cool with this, they like the fact that their new leader has a child bride. It’s one of the many points in the manga where my suspension of disbelief just snaps like a faulty bungee cord.
The weird plot might work if the atmosphere was a little more madcap, but the story’s tone stays a little too grounded to pull off the bizarre logic-breaks the story needs in order to work. There are a few characters who indirectly comment on the plot, such as one of Kanata’s underlings who repeatedly calls him a pedophile (this is treated as a joke instead of a valid point). By having these characters the manag-ka seems to want her cake and eat it too, as if by acknowledging how unlikely the plot is it somehow excuses it. Instead it just creates a discordant contrast between the characters who are insane (the Prime minister and his overly-devoted assistant Sai) and the ones who aren’t (Minori, the Prime Minister’s chief bodyguard and the reporter he has on call). It also makes the sane characters seem cruel. If they recognize that what Kanata is doing to Minori is wrong, why don’t they do anything about it?
Minori herself is the most levelheaded character in the manga. She’s actually a pretty strong shoujo heroine. While she might be politically apathetic and prefers video games to school, she’s strong willed and doesn’t give up easily. But the deck is stacked against her. Kanata is constantly pulling strings to make Minori’s life hell (leaking photos to the press, organizing an elaborate public engagement). Minori may be tough, but when everyone in the manga is on Kanata’s side-his staff, the press, public opinion, Minori’s own friends and family – there’s no one left for her to turn to for help. It becomes too much reading a series where the main character is manipulated at every turn with no way out. Minori is a relatable character, but maybe that’s not such a good thing. I felt so much for Minori’s situation that I couldn’t like anybody else in the manga, seeing as they all have a hand in turning this kid’s life inside out.
The worst of the lot is Kanata. While Minori’s classmates may squeal over how cute he is, no one seems to realize that the guy is a psychopath. He has no remorse, no empathy, no gage of how other people are feeling. He also has a strange fascination for hair. The first time he meets Minori he strokes and smells her hair before declaring she will be his first lady (note: he had just met her). Later, when Minori is living at the prime minister’s residence, Kanata wakes her up every morning so he can do her hair. Kanata doesn’t seem to have any overtly sexual designs on Minori (after stroking her hair, he touches her breasts almost as more of an afterthought). For a while I started wondering if maybe Kanata was gay, and his manipulations of Minori was just an elaborate way to set-up a beard for himself. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the story is headed in that direction, though there is a gay character who has a huge crush on Kanata.
The art is cute enough, though nothing really special. I would have liked to see more backgrounds, but the few that are used set the scenes well. The author’s notes in the back are funnier than anything in the actual manga, especially the bit about her family’s reactions to the series.
Despite the story being incredibly frustrating, I can’t help but want to see what will happen next. I hope that Minori will finally find a way to fight back and start having an effect on the plot, or else Millennium Prime Minster is going to lose my vote.