Manga-ka: Rize Shinba
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: September 2011
Synopsis: “…lately, with Taiga putting some distance between himself and his girlfriend as he tries to buckle down and study hard to get into the academic department of his choice, Yuiko starts getting suspicious that Taiga might have found a little piece of his own on the side! To make matters worse, his attempts at keeping the part-time schoolboy-tutoring gig a secret form Yuiko have only served to stoke the fires of her doubt!! After all is said and done, will Taiga even have a girlfriend to spend his hard-earned money on?!”
Immediate quip about this volume – are Taiga and Kouji long-lost brothers or something? I kid, of course, but the cover artwork makes me very grateful the two have ‘black’ and ‘white’ hair during the actual story. Seeing them both with light brown hair and coloured eyes makes them almost indistinguishable from one another at first glance. Enjoyable as I find the two interacting in the series, Kouji’s appearances in this fourth volume are minimal however as Taiga and Yuiko have some much needed honesty time. … and it’s about time too!
After spending weeks hiding his tutoring job from Yuiko – to avoid the inevitable BL thoughts she’d have and thus share – Taiga finds a big flaw in his cunning plan. Turns out that Yuiko thinks he’s cheating on her. This really surprised me, not because she thought this (her reasoning made good sense under the circumstances) but because I never considered the possibility. I was so caught up being grateful Taiga had something to himself that I didn’t really think of Yuiko’s feelings. I found myself feeling like a bit of a jerk, even if the spiteful part of me thought she sort of deserved the torment. I really liked how this insecurity made Yuiko seem a lot more grounded in reality, showing her as a thinking and feeling young woman and not just a BL delivery system.
But while Yuiko’s suspicions of Taiga grant her some good character moments, the real breakthrough of the volume is when Taiga finally outs her infidelities against him in regards to her BL obsession. While I’ve always loved the boys’ love fandom elements of this series, I’ve simultaneously hated Yuiko’s selfish behaviour towards Taiga. He’s not only a really well written for character but also a genuinely nice guy so watching his existence repeatedly used as fodder for his girlfriends’ hobbies, has, suffice to say, gotten me holding a grudge against her.
To say the issues of theTaiga, Yuiko and boys’ love threesome are solved in this volume would be grossly over-exaggerating. It doesn’t address the issue as thoroughly as is needed but it’s a good start. While trying to study for his exams, Yuiko invites herself over to Tagia’s house and proceeds to harass him about reading BL dramas out loud to her and complaining when she can’t install her BL video game on his laptop. Bothered, he verbally lashes out at her – “I don’t have time to put up with your stupid otaku crap!” It was harsh, but I cheered! Three and a half volumes of stress came out in that one page and you know what? After that they actually spoke to one another like real human beings with cause for communication outside of BL fetishes and expensive convention trips.
I was really impressed with the remainder of the volume which sees Taiga and Yuiko reach a middle ground that I enjoyed. However brief the page count, she seems genuinely more attentive to him and the two share some fun mutual jokes that made for believable and cute banter. It was way more sweet than being stuck reading another page of Yuiko tacking BL stereotypes on Taiga’s every facet and friend. The story also deviated for a short while to a friend of Yuiko and her relationship with a lover who took the discover of her BL hobby very, very badly. It makes for a dark comparison to Yuiko’s relationship with Taiga. To say Taiga has been accommodating is an understatement.
This was a really good volume of the series. Yuiko’s crazy selfish-streaks were toned back and Taiga got to express what all of us readers were thinking, even if only a little. If things keep up like this, I might finally be able to read the title – My Girlfriend’s A Geek – again as what the story treats as its hook and not its flaw.
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Book bought from Chapters