Bound Beauty, vol 1, by Mich Takeuchi. This manga made me sad.  In fact, it’s fair to say that I’m pouty about it.  The mangaka, Mick Takeuchi, also did Her Majesty’s Dog, which I loved.  This is her new series, and it looked so good.  In fact, it is pretty good, from an objective standpoint, I think.  The art is well done, the composition lovely, the faces and eyes expressive, the humor funny, and the story complex and multi-layered.

And yet, I did not like it.  At all.

The cover is delightful and looks like just my sort of thing.  In fact, I bought a couple volumes in one swoop.  (Oops, but manga have been going out of print like mad recently.  You pays your money and takes your chances, I guess.)

So I thought I was getting a story about a brash high school girl and a hot, angsty tough guy with tats.  Mmmmmm.

Which it is, kind of.  But not really.

See, the heroine, who is a teenager in high school, is in love with one of her teachers, an older man who is handsome and reminds her of a boy who rescued her from a fire.  This, by the way, is a trope I really hate.  I do not buy school teacher / teenager romances, period (and I can’t even watch Card Captor Sakura for that reason).  So she’s got a crush on this guy, which is bad enough, but for magical reasons wot I will not bother to explain in detail, she gets de-aged into the body of a child.  As in like a kindergartener.  Naked.  Yes, naked, because her adult clothes fall off.

They give her very frilly loli style clothes to put on, by the way, which gives me an eye twitch.

There’s kind of a love triangle with her, the teacher, and the angsty cover guy.  There’s romantical stuff sometimes while she looks like a kindergartner, sometimes while she is naked or only covered up by a kimono or sheet, and sometimes when she is a teenager.

I found the snark between her and the angsty guy, when she was in a teenager body, both hot and funny.  Everything else left me kind of squicked out.

There’s a scene where the heroine uses her magical powers to fight some demons, and the Master (that’s the hot older teacher dude) rescues her.  He wraps her injured child body into his arms, and holds her.  She feels warm and safe and loved, and he reminds her that for him, she’s still the same person (still the teenage girl), and that’s the end of the volume.  And you know, some people enjoy that kind of thing, but I am just not one of them.

The main external plot concerns the magical threads of fate, which come in various types (related to the elements, colors, and other complexities I won’t get into here) and how the tyers (the heroine, the teacher, the angsty guy, and another guy in glasses) all manipulate, or tie, the threads.  And of course, they fight crime.  Or magical problems, which amounts to the same thing.

That part was really interesting, and I was starting to get over my utterly squicked outedness when I hit the incest plot.  I know that cultures are different, and I’m cool with that, and I know that there’s plenty of folks who enjoy the occasional brother-sister goings on in comicbook story form, but I am not one of them.  At all.  I find it icky.

I may have said Ewwwwwwwww at full volume at what was supposed to be a heartwarming resolution to the subplot.  *sigh*

I really wanted to read this manga for HU because I love this mangaka so much and her inking is lovely, but this just did not work out.  I am not the reader for this comic.  At all.  Not even a little.

I’m going to admit upfront that I have very, very mixed feelings about just saying that this comic sucks.  It obviously didn’t work for me, and I’m cool with saying that.  What I don’t want to say is that it’s wrong, because I don’t think that the de-aging stories (which I’ve run into before, see also Meri-Puri) are necessarily wrong and sometimes they’re done well.  This is certainly beautifully drawn and well-told.  It just hits a big bunch of cultural walls that I think don’t necessarily translate.  Or maybe they’re story-kinks I don’t share, which can also happen.  *frowns*  But for me, and only me, this comic really squicked me the heck out.  Your mileage may definitely vary.

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