Pretty Face v1-2
Story and art by Yasuhiro Kano
Translation by Anita Sengupta
Lettering/Retouch by Eric Erbes
Edited by Jason Thompson
High-school karate star Masashi Rando is on top of the world - until a freak accident puts him in a coma. One year later, he wakes to discover that his severely burned face has been rebuilt as an exact likeness of Rina Kurumi, his secret crush! His family has moved on without a face, but he's spotted by Rina and mistaken for her long-lost twin sister Yuna. Now he's living under the same roof as the girl he loves, trying to find the real Yuna and save up enough money to get his original face restored! Can he find her before his masquerade is exposed?
Pretty Face is part of a weird genre of manga where the protagonist finally manages to insinuate themself into the life of the one they love - but in a way that eliminates the possibility for romance. Other entries in this genre include Tuxedo Gin (boy is reincarnated as his girlfriend's pet penguin) and Midori Days (girl is magically attached to the right hand of her secret crush). It's a pretty straightforward genre with a relatively simple leasson - by being together, the two protagonists learn that love is more than just puppy love, and once an adequate level of selfless devotion is reached, the original status quo is magically restored.
Of course, Pretty Face is also a Shonen Jump comic, so it's equally interested in maneuvering its character into situations where he's exposed to as many bras and panties as possible. So over the course of these two volumes, Rando:
- has to deal with his "sister" and "cousin" crawling into his bed
- goes shopping for underwear
- gets trapped in a crowded ladies' room
- gets trapped in the girls' locker room
- gets a pair of realistic (if unfeasibly huge) fake boobies attached to his chest
- goes on a beach trip with four other girls
- has to deal with a hamster that likes crawling under girls' clothes
...you know, that sort of thing. Personally, I'm more interested in the gender aspects of Rando's masquerade. Strangely, he makes convincing girl when he's not actively trying to be feminine (perhaps a comment on the ultra-weird and not-at-all-realistic Japanese ideal of feminitity?). In the episode where he gets fake breasts, he gains a strange appreciation for the sort of crap girls have to go through every day (though it's somewhat undercut by the strange and somewhat abrupt ending).
Yasuhiro Kano's storytelling isn't much to talk about, but his drawing is actually quite accomplished. Here's a sample panel from volume two that speaks volumes.
This is a really nice drawing. It's a tight close-up, but with the frame pulled back just far enough that you can tell what you're looking. There's just enough detail to give a sense of form, dimensionality and specificity, but not enough for the details to distract from the overall quality of the drawing. And the details are actually descriptive, helping to define the swell of the buttocks or the folds of the jeans, and actually help divide the picture between the smooth flesh and the rough jeans. The line is fine, but there's still enough variation in weight to make the hips and bucttocks seem full and fleshy. The toning is particularly nice, too, with multiple levels being used to build up a convincing red, itchy rash.
And yes, it just happens to be a picture of a girl's ass. Er, a guy's ass. So what?
I'd also like to take a moment to praise Hidemi Dunn, who designed the book. Yes, it's got a lot of the generic Shonen Jump trade dress, but the overall package is especially attractive. The cover motif of a white background with simple figures overlaid over a plaid stripe is striking and elegant, and the back cover treatment (pastel-colored interior scenes overlaid on the plaid) is quite nice too. They're very handsome volumes.
Overall, Pretty Face is entertaining but forgettable. To close with, here's my favorite joke from the first volume, which makes me laugh every time I read it. Rando's returning home, bleeding profusely from the head after fighting a dozen guys from the judo club...