Most of the series on Jmanga have one or two volumes, so it was nice to stumble across this three volume shoujo series that has been completely translated. Cousin is the story of a girl finding her way after high school, and I was intrigued to see that it was published in the magazine Zipper, which also published Paradise Kiss. Tsubomi, nicknamed “Bon” is graduating from high school and planning on working part-time. She’s a friendly chubby girl who has many superficial acquaintances, and one closer friend, the snarky and boy crazy Eiko. Bon is fairly sheltered after attending an all-girl’s school and the first boy she really talks to is Shiro, one of the other workers at the video store. One remarkable thing about Bon is that her cousin Noni is a hot new celebrity.
Noni experiences her first crush when an tall man bumps into her at the video store and casually picks her up to put her back on her feet, commenting “You’re so small, I didn’t see you!” Shiro knows the gentle giant is Nasukawa, a lonely recently divorced man who runs a nearby restaurant. Bon and Shiro manage to strike up a friendship through work. Shiro takes Bon to Nasukawa’s restaurant. Bon starts to get curious about appearing feminine for the first time, getting a new haircut and asking Eiko to help her go shopping. Filled with hopes for her first love, Bon goes on a diet and transforms herself with Shiro acting as her cheerleader the whole time. Shiro’s girlfriend is a former classmate of Bon’s who looks entirely different from the way she looked in high school too. Shiro seems to be a bit of a good-natured, slightly clumsy Svengali.
Cousin has a nice slice-of-life quality to it as Bon goes through her self-improvement regime and find herself becoming friends with Shiro and Nasukawa. She even reconnects with her famous cousin Noni at a wedding and sees that being a celebrity might not really change someone all that much. Bon has a bit of the typical shoujo heroine personality type to her, being clumsy and socially awkward, but she’s still a sympathetic protagonist. The art is simple but attractive, and the characters are as stylish as you would expect from a manga published in a fashion magazine. Cousin has one of those slightly open-ended endings that hints at what is going to happen, but leaves the conclusion up to the reader. I found most of the characters very sympathetic, and one of the chapters employed one of my favorite narrative devices in manga, where all the supporting characters speak directly to the reader as if they are in a documentary. This was a quick way of adding more depth to the story, as the reader can see how Bon is perceived by many different people. It was fun to be able to sit down and read the entire series at once! Recommended if you like shoujo transformation stories.
Electronic access provided by Jmanga.com.