by Carlo Santos,

Onegai Twins


Onegai Twins (manga)
Maiku Kamishiro is quite used to living by himself, so when two girls both claiming to be his long-lost twin sister suddenly move in, his life is turned upside-down! The girls, Miina and Karen, both have the same childhood photo that Maiku has, and they're determined to figure out who's related and who isn't. But first, the three of them will need to get used to living together—doing household chores, going to school, finding part-time work. Miina and Karen's feelings towards Maiku might not be entirely sisterly, however, and if they do figure out who the real twins are, it could make things really awkward, really fast.
The Onegai series is often met with a resounding groan of "Oh, please"—utter exasperation at its reliance on girls galore and the one unremarkable guy they all fall in love with. So prepare to groan again at the Onegai Twins manga, which relies on the same old harem setup and tries to squeeze a 12-episode TV series into a single volume. They almost get away with it, too: somehow, this adaptation stays laid-back, never rushing towards its conclusion. Unfortunately, it's so laid-back that most of what happens is barely interesting at all, and when it really starts to move—Maiku and the girls facing their feelings; the revelation of who the twins are—well, by then it's too late. In fact, if it weren't for girls galore and the occasional doses of eye candy, this odd little story of love and family wouldn't be much of anything.

Perhaps the surprising thing is that the compressed pacing of a TV series in one volume of manga is not the biggest problem here; rather, the actual events of the story are the fatal flaw. Maiku and the girls are always doing ... stuff. Boring, run-of-the-mill, everyday stuff that does little to advance the plot and does everything to put you to sleep. Perhaps they are puttering around the house, or taking turns at the bath, or going to school, or just talking. Oh, the talking. So much of it revolves around the noncommittal phrase "We might be related..." that it becomes a symbolic mantra for the story's indecisiveness. Even the ending, with its attempt at a twist and some incestuous overtones for dramatic effect, is just a jumble of plot devices (and a Mizuho-sensei deus ex machina) duct-taped together to make everything work out in the finale. Now aren't you glad it's only one volume long?

There are still some positive points to the manga, though—it manages to steer clear of typical harem traps, going for low-key romantic drama scenes instead of rowdy hijinks. (Unfortunately, this is also the main cause of the overall dullness.) Maiku does not spend his time landing face-first in random bosoms or being physically abused by the female cast; in fact, his strong will and self-reliance make him much more tolerable than the usual milquetoast that takes this role. Too bad he doesn't have a very exciting harem to choose from—the "we might be related" factor forces a certain level of distance from the female leads, while the girls at school don't get enough time to develop interesting personalities. In trying to juggle the possibilities of romantic drama and family drama, it ends up being caught in some dull netherworld of genrelessness.

First-time manga-ka Akikan works in a polite, easily readable art style in this volume, true to the characters of the Onegai series but lacking much creative spark. At best, it's a recitation of the anime designs, slick and bright-eyed and in dire need of hair color (some of the characters are hard to tell apart now that they've been grayscaled). A fair share of fanservice makes its way into the book, but not enough to be distracting—there's one chapter spent on the beach, and a number of bathing scenes, but it's not like anyone is purposely flashing her body parts all the time. The frontal teenage nudity might be a bit much for some readers, though, so watch out. The overall reading experience is a smooth one, with most panels laid out in clean rectangles and enough backgrounds to get a sense of each scene. However, the over-dependence on screentone makes the entire volume look very gray; it's an easy first-timer's mistake that comes from "trying to color everything in."

Knowing DrMaster's reputation for sketchy production quality, this one turns out to be one of their better efforts: no blurry printing, reasonably bright paper (although still not quite up to industry standard), and only a couple of typos in the cleanly-lettered dialogue. The translation is somewhat on the dry side—probably part of the reason why the story feels so dull—but still simple enough to follow. Some of the more abstract lines about thoughts and feelings might require a second read-through, however. Sound effects are left unaltered, apart from small translations placed next to them; one clever little touch is that the font and size of the effects translations change to fit on the nature of the sound. A few glossy color pages at the front also come in as a bonus.

Ultimately, Onegai Twins tries to put on an air of sweetness, with its noble-intentioned male lead, a mildly pleasant cast of girls surrounding him, and an approach that relies on day-to-day life rather than raucous teen comedy. But that sweet taste comes out as something entirely bland—there just isn't anything striking about the story, the characters, or even the art. A true Onegai fan would be the most likely person to enjoy it, but even then, would probably say afterward that a single manga volume isn't enough to capture the nuance and depth of a whole series. It can tell the story, sure—but it doesn't tell the story in a compelling way. That's why, when you hear an exasperated groan of "Oh please," it's probably a groan of boredom.
Overall : C-
Story : D
Art : C

+ More laid-back than most other works usually associated with this genre.
Dull characters, dull story, dull art, dull everything.

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Art: Akikan

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