Absolute Boyfriend

April 2, 2010 dreamkaleidoscope
Tags: , , , ,

Originally posted February 24, 2010 at Livejournal.

TITLE: Absolute Boyfriend
AUTHOR/MANGAKA: Yuu Watase
PUBLISHER: Viz
RATING: Older Teen (16+)
CATEGORY: Shoujo
NUMBER OF VOLUMES: 6
SCORE: 9 (Great)
RECOMMENDED FOR FANS OF: Yuu Watase (mangaka of Fushigi Yugi, Ceres: Celestial Legend, Imadoki, Alice 19th), Chobits, romance, comedy, drama, science fiction

Hands down, my all-time favorite mangaka is Yuu Watase. Her artwork is beautiful, her male leads gorgeous, and the storylines are always enjoyable, full of comedy, drama, and sexy romance. A lot of people consider Absolute Boyfriend her weakest work, and I can understand their critiques of it, but when it comes to overall entertainment value, this series is my second favorite of her series. (The first being Ceres: Celestial Legend). It’s like a guilty pleasure, yet I feel no guilt at all for loving it.

Lonely sixteen-year-old Riiko Izawa wants a boyfriend, but she has the worst luck when it comes to asking boys out. One day, after being turned down by her latest crush, Riiko recovers the cell phone of a strangely dressed man named Gaku Namikiri. He’s a salesman for a mail-order company called Kronos Heaven, and as a thank you for returning his phone, he offers to give her a discount on anything in their catalog. However, the only thing Riiko wants is something money can’t buy: a boyfriend.

As it turns out, to her surprise, you can. Kronos Heaven has developed a line of realistic-looking “figures” (robots) called the Nightly Lovers series. On a lark, Riiko orders one of the figures from a secret site online and arrives home the next day to find a hot naked “man” in a crate outside her apartment. She initializes him with a kiss and names him Night.

Though she intends to return Night after the three day trial period, due to a technicality, Riiko is late in doing so and must pay Night’s full price tag — a million dollars! Obviously, no ordinary high school girl has that kind of money, so Gaku makes a deal with her. As long as Riiko can keep Night’s robotic nature a secret and allow Night to gather data on what women want, Night can stay with her. The question is, is perfect Night the one Riiko really wants, or is it handsome human Soshi, her next-door neighbor and childhood friend who confesses he’s in love with her?

Something I really liked about this title in comparison to Watase’s other works is that there is actual suspense in who Riiko will chose in the end. In other Watase titles, it’s obvious who the heroine loves almost from the beginning. She may turn to a secondary love interest temporarily when she can’t be with her first choice, but it’s always clear that he’s second in her heart. Not so with Riiko. She cares deeply for both guys, and it’s very difficult for her to decide who she loves more. Night is the perfect boyfriend — her dream guy — but no matter how human he may seem, he’ll never age or be able to give Riiko children. Life with him will never be normal. Soshi, on the other hand, despite being an imperfect human, has always been there for her and knows Riiko better than practically everyone. It’s a tough decision, giving this story a true love triangle.

Speaking of the guys, I have to point out that both Night and Soshi are H-O-T. Watase always draws gorgeous guys, but I think she’s outdone herself with this title, especially with Night. I used to think Tooya (from Ceres) was the sexiest Watase male lead, but Night has overtaken him to take that title. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Night has an amusing habit of stripping off all his clothes whenever he thinks Riiko wants to have sex. Yum! It’s female fanservice at its best. And for those who have a thing for guys with glasses, Soshi is really handsome as well. I do wish that Riiko had more of a unique look to her, though. She’s cute, but pretty much looks exactly like Aya from Ceres.

The strongest aspect of this series is probably the comedy. There is a bit of drama later in the story, but this is, essentially, a sex comedy, something that readers should keep in mind. Absolute Boyfriend is not meant to be read as a deep, philosophical series. Despite its outward similarities to Chobits (incidentally, another favorite series of mine), which asked tough questions about the relationships between humans and robots, AB is, at heart, simply a high school romance with a touch of a science fiction flavor.

There are weaknesses in the plot, admittedly. I’m thinking specifically of something that happens in Volume 4, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me and provides some unnecessary drama. It’s definitely a low point in the series, reminiscent of a certain plot point Watase originally used in Fushigi Yugi to better effect. That’s followed by a plot twist that is really kind of silly at first glance, but it does lead to some of the most humorous (and cute!) moments in the series and allows us to learn a little more about one of Riiko’s friends, who certainly is a much better character than Riiko’s frenemy from the beginning of the series. (Boy, was she horrible!)

Despite some hiccups in the middle, I think this is a really fun series to read. It’s no Chobits, but it doesn’t set out to be. If you’re a Watase fan and/or looking for a little mindless entertainment with some yummy (naked!) bishounen, search no further than Absolute Boyfriend. He may just be your Mr. Right.

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