So Cute it Hurts! Vol. 1

So Cute it Hurts! Volume 1 by Go Ikeyamada

There has been a gap in cross-dressing shoujo series in the current shoujo beat line up recently, so I was intrigued by this series, which features both cross-dressing twins and juvenile delinquents.

The twins in this series are a pair of fraternal twins named Megumu and Mitsuru. Megumu is devoted to history simulation games featuring historical figures with eye patches, and has found a small group of kindred otaku spirits at her all-girls school. Mitsuru has a much more casual approach to studies, a bit of a womanizing personality, and a penchant for fighting thanks to his attendance at an all-male school crawling with juvenile delinquents. Megumu and Mitsuru are an odd kind of opposite gender fraternal twins that might only exist in manga or k-dramas due to their identical appearance that allows them to swap identities. Mitsuru is struggling with make up work in history and proposes a week long switch to Megumu so she can take his tests for him. Megumu is not thrilled with this idea, but she finds herself going along with it when she wakes up one day to find that Mitsuru has stolen her uniform and left his clothes behind.

This volume focuses a bit more on Mitsuru’s undercover operation at Megumu’s school. He is taken aback when he realizes that the girls he usually relates to in superficial ways actually have personalities, and is particularly surprised when he sees the most beautiful girl in the school bullying a deaf student. He has a blunt way of relating to girlish clique problems, and promptly develops a crush on Shino Takenaka, actually deciding to study sign language on his own so he can communicate with her. The bullying plot is a bit standard for a shoujo manga, but it was nice to see Mitsuru deal with mean girl antics with refreshing directness, and when his enemy attempts to shun him, all the otaku girls band together and are not particularly concerned at any loss of social status.

Megumu’s storyline is a bit less dynamic, and more reliant on shoujo plot cliches where she accidentally stumbles into the embrace of Aoi Sanada, the eyepatch-wearing top delinquent at her brother’s school. Aoi is a bit annoyed and bemused at the sudden appearance of an underclassman who seems to not follow the usual social conventions at their school. Her habit of tripping does actually come in handy when she finds herself in the middle of a schoolyard brawl. So far, Megumu and Aoi aren’t given as much page time or character development as Mitsuru and his new friends, and I hope this gets balanced out a little bit in future volumes.

I found it amusing that towards the end of the chapters, there were over-the-top summations of love standing in stark contrast to the gender-bending comedic hijinks in the rest of the manga. Ikeyamada’s art is attractive, if a bit generic, but she portrays the action scenes and the highs and lows of teenage emotions with ease. I found this volume amusing, and there were some interesting hints of a love quadrangle developing that I’m guessing will be explored more in the next volume. So Cute it Hurts! might not have very much depth so far, but the first volume seems like a nice comedic addition to a summer manga reading list.

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