Jason Thompson's House of 1000 Manga - Midori Days

by Jason Thompson, Nov 24th 2011

Episode LXXX: Midori Days

(NOTE: The following is an imaginary conversation between me and Shaenon Garrity, my guest columnist on House of 1000 Manga. Although the contents are approved by Shaenon, and we often have conversations like this, I take the blame responsibility for all dialogue.)

“Shaenon?”

“Yes, Jason?”

“Thanks for doing House of 1000 Manga for me the last couple of weeks when I was busy. I really appreciate it.”

“Hey, I'm always happy to write about manga. Especially old shojo manga. And especially for money.”

“I'm glad you reviewed Basara. It's hard to write about really good manga. It's a little intimidating; I don't know what to say about it. I feel like I should just be like the kid's teacher in A Christmas Story, and write “A+…plus!…Plus!…Plus!…’ on the blackboard over and over.”

“Yes, that's why you had me review all the Tezuka for Manga: The Complete Guide. I'll happily take your good manga off your hands.”

“You bring some class to this column, Shaenon. I've been inspired by your example and I've decided I need to write about more serious manga. Daring, artistic manga that advance the medium. Manga like The Drops of God that you can bring with you to a fancy wine bar to impress your date. CLASSY manga.”

“Yeah. What's that you've got there?”

“Oh, this? Midori Days. It's awesome!”

“Oh yeah! I remember when Viz released that. Isn't that one of your favorites?”

“Yeah. It's about this guy who's never had a girlfriend, and he wakes up one morning to find a girl growing out of his arm.”

“A full-sized girl?”

“No, she's sort of puppet-sized. His forearm turns into her torso, and she has a little head and arms where his hand would be. Anyway, he's totally freaked out, but it turns out that the arm-girl is actually possessed by the spirit of this girl in his school who's always had a crush on him but was too shy to tell him. Then she wished ‘I've always hoped that I could be a part of you.’ And then the next thing she knows they're fused together!”

“So the high concept pitch is ‘his only girlfriend is his right hand.’ It's nice to know that joke's the same in Japanese and English.”

“Exactly. This manga is Cool Japan embodied. Taro Aso should read it in public.”

“With a hand puppet on the other hand.”

“Anyway, the twist is, the main character, Seiji, is this BADASS STREET PUNK! He's one of those mythical manga characters like Onizuka in GTO or Rando in Pretty Face who's a totally ripped street thug but who's never actually kissed a girl or anything. And his best asset as a fighter was his punch, his “Devil's Right Arm”!! But now his right arm has been replaced by a miniature middle school girl, so his fighting ability is cut in half. He's still incredibly manly, but now he has a feminine element in his life.”

“What happened to the girl's actual body? Is it one of those things where she doesn't have any parents or friends so nobody misses her?”

“No, her body's lying in a coma in her house. In fact, her family's really worried about her.”

“He doesn't explain to them that their daughter has turned into his appendage?”

“No, they want to keep it a secret, so he wears a bandage around his arm all the time. Everyone knows he's a street fighter, so they just assume his arm is injured. In the second chapter they go over to the girl's house to try to see if they can get her spirit back in her body by touching her body, but the girl's mom catches them in the act and thinks he's molesting her comatose daughter, so she chases him out of the house. You know, it's a romantic comedy, they can't just solve everything immediately or the story would be over. So they live together and she makes little meals for him and helps out around the house and washes his back in the bath and so on.”

“She washes his back in the bath?”

“Yeah, and once she offers to help him go to the bathroom, because he complains about having to pee with his left hand.”

“SHOW ME THAT PAGE.”

“Well, she doesn't actually DO it. She's shy, so she doesn't want to see Seiji naked or anything. She's just carried away by the spirit of the moment because she wants to make herself useful. It's sort of like an awkward moment between two people that you later pretend didn't happen. But it's hard for a teenage boy to have a girl growing out of his arm, Shaenon. For one thing, one chapter is all about him waiting for Midori to go to sleep so he can masturbate.”

“SHOW ME THAT CHAPTER.”

“Sure, it's in volume 3. His friend loans him a porno tape and…well…anyway. This is a manga with a lot of fanservice. It ran in Shonen Sunday, which unlike those wimps in Shonen Jump, still shows nudity. The author seems to have a thing for breasts.”

“Well, of course he has a breast fetish. It's not a manga about a guy with a girl's lower
body growing out of his arm.”

“I think there are some mangaka that would prefer that.”

“That reminds me of the Usamaru Furuya Short Cuts comic about the reverse mermaid. So is it just masturbation jokes for 8 volumes?”

“No, there's a ton of other characters. Too many, actually. There's Ayase, this girl who thinks Seiji's a jerk at first, but then she falls in love with him and tries to go on dates with him and so on. There's this otaku guy who's obsessed with dolls, who thinks Midori is a doll and Seiji is a fellow doll-lover. There's a mad scientist and his lolita-girl assistant who want to cut Midori off Seiji's wrist and steal her. Seiji's big sister, Rin, is the only other person who knows about Midori, and she's a “tough, sexy older woman” kind of character, who's always teasing her brother. Then there's this 10-year-old neighbor girl who has a crush on Seiji…and there's Kota, this young boy who also develops a crush on Seiji because he's so impressively manly…and later there's this American exchange student…”

“You know, it's amazing how much exposition you've managed to work into this conversation. It's like a Platonic dialogue.”

“Thanks!”

“So anyway—hot older sister, lolita girl, girl next door, tsundere, blonde foreigner, homosexual crush…there's something for everybody.”

 “Yeah, the author has that problem where he keeps introducing new characters when the story slows down, so by the end there's too many characters. But this was a weekly manga, and it's hard to come up with new, PG-13 jokes about a girl growing out of a guy's arm every week, so I'm going to cut him some slack. The idea is just so incredible! It's so original!”

“Actually, there's a ton of manga where the guy gets his arm replaced with something. Parasyte, Toto: The Wonderful Adventure, D.Gray-man…of course, usually their arm turns into a weapon, so it's kind of a role reversal in this manga that it turns into a girl instead. Instead of getting some manly, Freudian, steely power thing growing out of his arm, it's the exact opposite: a girl. Intriguing.”

“There's a scene when the mad scientist offers to replace Midori with some other kind of artificial arm, and you see the hero's arm from ARMS, and the Psychogun from Space Adventure Cobra.”

“Yeah, why are teenage boys so obsessed with their right hands? I wonder…”

“Well, you need your hand to draw manga with.”

“That must be it.”

“Another thing I like about this manga is the scene when the scientist examines Midori, and tries to determine how their bodies work together and what happens to her waste products when she eats food and so on. I'm glad they have that extra touch of realism."

“You know what would also be awkward, is if Midori fell in love with some other boy, and wanted to consummate their relationship while she was still attached to Seiji.”

“Maybe he could do a harem manga with multiple girls growing out of different parts of the guy's body. Every time they introduce a new girl, it just appears somewhere else.”

“The manga would have to end when the hero runs out of exposed skin, though. Unless they branch off and he turns into kind of a girl tree.”

“Or a manga about a girl who grows out of a tumor. She starts out as just a precancerous lesion and then he falls in love with it as her head and limbs gradually emerge and she is born out of her body. It'd be like the 1978 horror movie The Manitou that Hirohiko Araki ripped off for the “Empress” Stand in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure.”

“It's always about Jojo for you, isn't it, Thompson?”

“I can't deny who I am, Shaenon.”

“You do love twisted manga the most. It's kind of impressive that VIZ published this. It's rated 16+.”

“The English editor was Ian Robertson, that lucky bastard. I never got to edit a manga this dirty. Viz wouldn't allow him to use the “S” word in a T+ book, but he wanted the tough guys in the manga to sound tough, so he got around it by having them say it real slow, like “Sheeeeeet…” Now that's good editing.”

“What about the artist?”

“It's created by Kazurou Inoue. He used to be an assistant to Kazuhiro Fujita, and his kohai was Makoto Raiku, the Animal Land guy. This is my favorite manga of his.”

“What else did he do?”

“Well, he did Ai Kora, about a boy who has different anatomical fetishes and is trying to collect all the girls who embody different bodyparts he likes. And Mahô no Iroha, about a boy who meets a cute girl with magic powers, who turns out to be his own daughter from the future.”

“So he draws ‘family’ manga.”

“Yeah, but nothing he's done is as twisted as Midori Days. Here, take a look at Chapter 25, aka volume 3, page 69 of the Viz edition.”

“WHAT THE HELL IS THAT???!”

“That would be the scene when the mad scientist shoots Midori with a glue gun to restrain her! Isn't Kazurou Inoue amazing? Isn't he a genius?”

“I'd like to see you take out Midori Days at a fancy wine bar to impress a date. You'd go to jail.”

“Hey, I showed it to my wife this morning over breakfast, and she ending up reading all of volume 1 and was late to work. I mean, she said it was the stupidest thing she'd ever read, but then she kept reading for 200 pages.”

“So what happens? Is the ending any good? Give me some spoilers.”

“It's not bad. Eventually the girl—Midori—realizes that she can go back into her own body, but if she does, she'll lose all memories of her time with Seiji. And that sucks, because she actually kind of likes being on his arm. But she has to make a big choice: whether to stay as his arm and keep her memories of their time together, or to become a real girl and have to start from scratch.”

“So what you're saying is…”

“Yes, Shaenon. I'm saying this manga is just like Chobits!! Instead of having True Love waiting at the end of his arm, the hero and heroine have to face the difficulties of a real relationship!! In fact, I'd go so far as to say Chobits is kind of a rip on this manga.”

“That's a filthy lie, Thompson! Besides, Chobits came out two years before Midori Days!”

“……………There's a lot of plagiarism in the manga industry. I'm just saying.”

“You're a sick man. How come you gave away your entire set of Astro Boy and Phoenix and you kept Midori Days? You're going to Manga Hell.”

“Shaenon, I know that Tezuka and CLAMP will always be famous. I can always find them in libraries or bookstores or wherever. But a manga like Midori Days, that was only made into one brief 13-episode TV series, might not be so lucky! It's up to people like us to preserve the memory of brilliantly twisted manga like this one!”

“That may be the case. But don't diss Chobits. CLAMP fans will kidnap you and sew a copy of Chobits to your wrist.”

“I guess I'm just more into biotechnology than robots. That's why I prefer Midori Days. Body horror plus love comedy! I'd like to see this manga if Shintaro Kago had written it. Imagine…it'd be like…”

(EDITOR'S NOTE: The rest of the conversation has been censored due to excessive horribleness.)


Jason Thompson is the author of Manga: The Complete Guide and King of RPGs, as well as manga editor for Otaku USA magazine.
Banner designed by Lanny Liu.

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