The Spring 2019 Manga Guide
My Pink Is Overflowing
What's It About?Himari's luck with men is pretty much the worst, possibly because she tends to act on her fondness for men in white dress shirts first and ask questions later. Now after yet another failed relationship, she's made a vow: the next guy she falls for will have to be an inexperienced virgin so that he's less likely to dump her by comparing her to other women.
Imagine her surprise when her boss at her waitress job turns out to be just that! But is this really the kind of relationship she's really looking for? And could there maybe be downsides to dating a guy who doesn't want to have sex before he's met the woman he wants to marry?
Is It Worth Reading?
I admit that I'm not a big fan of overly-naïve heroines (or heroes, for that matter), especially when they begin treading very close to the Too Stupid To Live (TSTL) line. Himari is one such heroine, and in a romantic comedy like My Pink Is Overflowing, that means that she's very much the author of her own problems. Himari's particular issue is that she has a tendency to get involved with men who are generally no good – they cheat on her, she's the person they cheat on someone else with, or they're only interested in sex, which up until partway through the first chapter she usually goes for. Fortunately for us, she does recognize that she's got a real problem, because this author is no Moyoco Anno and can't quite pull off what Anno does with Happy Mania. Unfortunately, Himari's solution to the problem is to decide that all of these guys are just comparing her to other women and that she needs a man who won't – and obviously that's a virgin.
There are definitely issues with this line of thinking. I seriously doubt that Yuki Monō is trying to erase asexuals from the narrative, so the major one that comes to mind is that “virgin” does not automatically equal “no experience;” it just means that someone hasn't had sex. Since this isn't the Medieval period, virgins are unlikely to have been cloistered in a monastery or abbey somewhere and thus deprived of all contact with the opposite sex, so Himari's assumption just once again reminds us of her TSTL-tendencies. On the other hand, it's genuinely sad that Himari thinks that sex is the only thing that makes or breaks her relationships and the fact that she never considers that it might be something else in the way she handles her relationships that is the issue is a bit troubling. Even for a rom-com heroine, she's a total mess.
That's a major shame, because it's great that Kodansha is taking a chance licensing titles for an older female audience. This is actually the second they've brought over as a digital-first series (the other is Love Massage!), and as someone who is no longer a teenager, I really want to like and support this effort. Unfortunately this book isn't all that engaging, and Himari is so annoying that I don't want the love interest to saddle himself with her. The art also isn't terrific, although it's certainly competent enough and easy to read. The title, which is a double-entendre about how he makes Himari feel pink and floaty and how much she desires him sexually, is clever enough, but the story just isn't making me want to find out what happens next, no matter how much I love romance as a genre.
Initially I was put off by the premise of My Pink Is Overflowing (the whole ‘I'll only date virgins’ thing made me a little uncomfortable, and the at-first-blush patriarchal values of our male lead's relationship wants made me raise an eyebrow), but ultimately I couldn't help but be charmed by its sweetness and surprising realism. It feels like a legitimate, actual romance in several ways: How new wants and emotional needs are discovered as grow and desires flourish (with the male love interest saying that he only wants to be in a relationship if it's for marriage, and how much if he actually wants that becomes questioned as the volume continues and the romance blooms), the way people new to emotional and physical intimacy fumble about awkwardly as they make their first steps in dating, and how, by contrast, people who have been hurt and spurned and lied to in their romantic encounters can find genuine tenderness and niceness so shocking.
I also like how consent is navigated; in spite of sexual attraction, the main female character is always certain to respect the wishes of her partner, and when she does cross boundaries (like when she kisses him at work, in public) that make him uncomfortable, the apology is genuine and reflected in tangible action. It's refreshing for a josei romcom to have these kinds of values.
But it's also just plain funny and endearing. Our female lead being sexually active and kind of libidinous is rare and really neat, and its super cathartic to see her crappy exes get their comeuppance. A lot of the manga's pleasures are simple, but they're pleasures all the same. Sometimes it's nice to thrill in and enjoy the trials and tribulations of a couple who, fundamentally, like each other a whole lot. It's frankness and surprising adeptness at depicting convincing romance only makes it more endearing.
My Pink Is Overflowing is fun and sweet and very, very readable. The volume ends on a salacious cliffhanger that honestly made me sad a second volume hadn't been published yet. It's got enough emotional intelligence to resonate and work on a deeper level, while still perfectly executing on the formula that can make a good romance so addicting. All in all, an extremely tasty cocktail that leaves you wanting seconds. If you love a good romcom, I can't recommend it enough.
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