Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Cherry Magic! Thirty Years of Virginity Can Make You a Wizard?!
GN 1 & 2
When Adachi wakes up on the morning of his thirtieth birthday, he finds that he suddenly has the ability to read the minds of people who touch him. Attributing his strange new gift to the fact that he's still a virgin, Adachi alternates between hating his talent and thinking it's kind of okay – until he touches his hot coworker Kurosawa and realizes that the other man's in love with him! Does this make it all worthwhile, or is Adachi in way over his head?
When I say that I was pleasantly surprised by this title, that's less because of the plot and more due to the conceit – the idea that being a virgin for a certain length of time is abnormal and thus gives the protagonist superpowers. I'm not a fan of shaming and/or fetishizing virginity, so if those are things you also find distasteful, allow me to assure you that despite the premise that being a virgin for thirty years gives you superpowers (or at least telepathy), this is actually a fun little series.
There is an emphasis on “little” here because both of these volumes are fairly short at only 144 pages each, which is not a lot of book for your buck, especially with even the digital edition selling for full price, which for Square Enix is on the higher end of the digital price range, around nine dollars. (That's more than Viz or YenPress, on par with Seven Seas, and less than Kodansha, for comparison purposes.) The physical book is still on the higher end of normal at thirteen dollars, which again can feel like a lot for a book that won't take much longer than an hour even for slower readers. While the translation is polished and includes translation notes (some of which cover territory not often seen, particularly in the second volume) and the quality of the physical books is very nice, with thick, white pages and very clear printing, cost is still a consideration as of this writing.
The good news is that Cherry Magic! Thirty Years of Virginity Can Make You a Wizard?! is a frothy romance that makes for a perfect break from whatever else is going on in your day. Adachi's sudden ability to read the thoughts of anyone he touches is nicely depicted, showing the good (he can figure out what Kurosawa's thinking), the bad (crowded public transportation is now a total nightmare), and the keen temptation to abuse it, as he starts to become intrigued by Kurosawa and tries to casually touch the other man to see what's going on in his head. As you might imagine, this last impulse can at times send Kurosawa mixed messages, but since Adachi is himself conflicted about his feelings for the other man, that more often than not lands on the side of silliness rather than buying into any of BL's more distasteful tropes. It also allows Adachi to improve his social skills, because he becomes able to tell if someone is just faking their bravery or joviality, as we see in the second volume when he gets a seatmate on the bus to the company retreat. Adachi's first instinct is that the younger man is intensely annoying; brushing up against him provides him with the insight that the poor guy is just prone to getting bus-sick and allows Adachi to offer him some anti-nausea medicine. That's not the sort of thing socially unsavvy Adachi would ever have been able to figure out on his own, so in this case his power is actually making his life a little easier.
There's a fair amount of light humor stemming from the various situations that Adachi or Adachi and Kurosawa together find themselves in, and as an added bonus, it doesn't feel particularly mean. Both Adachi and Kurosawa are treading softly around each other, with Kurosawa afraid to scare the object of his affections away and Adachi just generally uncertain of how he feels and what he wants to do about it. All of this is leading up to a relationship that is based on mutual consent, which in some ways is aided by the base premise of Adachi being able to read Kurosawa's mind, because if he couldn't, there likely wouldn't have been a story in the first place because Kurosawa is very careful in his actions. In volume two we see Adachi become really aware of this when he's sick at home and Kurosawa rushes over to take care of him. Circumstances conspire to leave Kurosawa no choice but to stay the night, and Adachi's realization of what the other man is hoping for and what he'll actually do (which is nothing remotely sexual) allow him to take the lead in a small way, and that once again does a lot towards making this a much less creepy relationship than it might otherwise have been framed as in the pursuit of “humor.”
Adachi's telepathic power does appear to be directly related to his virgin status, as stated in the title. This is driven home by the inclusion of a short story in each volume about his also virginal friend, who gains the same power when he hits his thirtieth birthday. Interestingly enough, creator Yū Toyota admits that the age she picked has been pointed out as arbitrary by others; such acknowledgement goes a long way to making this less about virginity and perceptions thereof and more about an author looking for a gimmick for a story and not thinking all that hard about it. And that's really what it feels like – Toyota had a story idea and needed a reason to make it happen, because the characters and their relationships feel more grounded than the premise for their romance.
Despite the mature rating, these volumes are, combined, maybe PG-13 at most. There's some mild kissing and a few unillustrated thoughts that pass through Kurosawa's head about what he'd like to do with Adachi, and the company retreat offers some non-sexual nudity with Adachi's soft midsection sending Kurosawa into unvoiced ecstasies, but absolutely nothing explicit. That said, Toyota (who started this online and was shocked to be offered a book deal) states that they do plan to make it sexier later on, so if that's not your thing, just know it's projected to happen later on in the series. The art is fairly middle of the road, but it is pleasant to look at and both Adachi and Kurosawa do look like actual adults (and mostly act like it; a scene in the rain where Adachi makes some assumptions in volume two is a departure rather than the norm), so that's a nice bonus. It's a pleasant book, so if BL is your genre and you just want something nice, you could do worse than to pick this up.
Overall : B
Story : B
Art : B
+ Light and frothy romance with silly humor that surpasses its odd premise. Consensual relationship development.
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