Article first published as Manga Review: Pretty Face Volume One by Yasuhiro Kano on Blogcritics.
Pretty Face Volume One is a manga by Yasuhiro Kano, and it was published in North America by Viz Media’s Shonen Jump imprint in 2007. The series is rated “T+” for older teens; after reading this volume, I would agree with this rating. Content-wise, I should probably mention that there are a few panels with female nudity, as well as some occasional “fanservice” included.
Rando Masashi is a high school karate star, but is also a bit of a rowdy delinquent. He has a crush on a girl named Rina Kurimi, but he thinks she doesn’t notice him. One day, the two happen to be riding on the same bus, and the bus is involved in an accident.
When Rando awakens, he finds he’s in the office of Dr. Manabe. The doctor tells him he’s been in a vegetative coma for over a year, and that everyone believes that he’s dead. Not only that, but Rando had been burned beyond recognition, so the doctor used a photograph Rando had in his possession to reconstruct his face. Unfortunately, the only picture Rando had on him was one of Rina, so now he has Rina’s face attached to his male body. The doctor offers to perform a sex change, but Rando refuses.
After Rando charges out of the doctor’s office, he runs into Rina. Rando finds out that Rina has an older twin sister who had run away from home, and Rina and her family believe that Rando is Rina’s sister, Yuna. Rando decides to take on Yuna’s identity, and now has to hide the fact that he’s actually a male while living under the same roof as Rina.
My 15-year-old daughter had actually read this manga before I did, and had warned me that she thought the premise was rather disturbing. After I read this volume for myself, I found myself agreeing with her. Readers who have read my other manga reviews know I don’t have issues with gender-bending, because they’ve seen that I appreciate the Ranma 1/2 manga series. The disturbing aspect to me is the execution of the premise.
The biggest thing to me is that this story relies too much on convenience. Rando conveniently has a crush on Rina and just happens to be carrying her picture around, the two are conveniently on the same bus that has an accident, Rina conveniently has an older twin sister who has run away from home… and it goes on. As a reader, I find myself having some issues with my “willing suspension of disbelief” when it comes to all of these convenient elements coming together in just the right way.
Readers who enjoy the humor that derives from this kind of a plot setup will probably find enjoyment in this series. However, after reading this volume of Pretty Face, both my daughter and I are in no hurry to read any more volumes of the series.
I wrote this review after reading a copy of Pretty Face Volume One that I checked out through the King County Library System.