The manga follows an "angel-like" beautiful high school girl with a certain secret she has been hiding from everyone, and an idle hikikomori (one who adnormally avoids social contact) young man; the highlight of his day is seeing Mari at the convenience store. The story begins as Mari wakes up in her room, but something feel amiss about the room and even her own body.
Anyone else ever saw something that interested them with the story alone ? The idea that sounds so interesting and your genuinely excited to go and experience that unique idea ? And as your about half way through you finally fully realize something that has been bugging you sense the start of that experience ? That you just wasted you time on something with a
. Meh Story
. Meh Writing
. Meh Characters
. Meh Character Development
. And a whole ton of wasted potential
From having a MC with an Awful Personality, Development and Lack of common sense. To having the only character you like
be the one that doesn't have any screen time at all and is just memories. The person that is the best is the original owner of the body.
I genuinely feel bad for the girl who had the body to began with. She now has some failure, Stalker and overall rapey type of guy ruining her entire life. He ends up ruining all her previous friendships. Is a slob and a pervert in her body and also went and ruined her public image of being a very popular and well liked girl. I could go on but i wont.
There is so much wrong with this that i can't even do it all in one review. Now that i'm looking back on what i have wrote so i think i'm being to nice on this. This could have been a enjoyable story to read but it was nothing but a chore for me to get too chapter 68.
The Two other characters i want to bring up besides the MC and Mai is the Mom and the new friend he makes. The mom for the most part was alright she did nothing bad really. But then out of no where her personality changes and she goes to yelling at her Daughter who is in a comatose state and starts throwing crap all over her room and is about to hit her. This was so sudden that i had to go back an re-read it cause i thought i was missing something.
The new friend that the MC makes is annoying and just i guess weird is the only other word to describe her. She starts out as being a stalker at the start of the story and is obsessed with the original girl ( Mai ) For the first two days the main MC is going to school and trying to be Mai. In that time the Stalker has been able to figure out that it isn't Mai. How may you ask ? Well i'll tell you it's because the MC said Cute.... Like really ? She then pins the MC up against the wall and said's that the MC is an imposter. With no backing for such a claim. Then she starts yelling at the MC straight in their face and the MC for no reason decides to confess of the truth ( Gonna get back to that in a little) She then assaults her even if its just a little. A little later she is getting all weird that she is in Mai's room. Leaving this here or else this will take too long.
Gonna bring up that confession the MC did. He could have done something smart such as not doing something that could get your entire social life ruined in seconds. I was expecting/wanting him to play the Victim card. Sink to the ground and start crying. Someone would come in and see this Stalker above one of the schools most liked students crying and draw the conclusion that the Stalker was bullying her. This could have led to feuds between them and give the story something to work with that might be interesting or even just have the Stalker constantly try to make it up to her. It should have not had the MC confess that he is some no life inside the body of some girl.
Last thing i want to bring up. Is that this story thought it needed a stupid romance happening in it. Like why ? This should have been about the MC dealing with this and trying to fix it not have stupid not needed romances happening. It makes it worse that the romance is with the stupid Stalker. Oh yeah that's another thing about the Stalker is that she is so bland that i can't remember her name and just call her Stalker.
Overall this could have been an alright story to read. Maybe get some laughs out of. But in the end this story took itself way to seriously when the story should have been a comedy to begin with. With some of the dumbest characters i'v seen and weird sexual scenes ( Oh yeah the MC in the body of Mai molested Mai's best friend) This is without a doubt in my mind one of the worst. I don't get mad usually with stuff. But this is an exception.
If you came for the gender bender part witch was not fun at all. Then you will be very sad with this outcome. If you want a story that handles body swaps much better and is much more enjoyable to the point that there isn't a comparison here. I recommend Shishunki Bitter Change. A story that knows how to have Characters be likable and knows not to take itself seriously all the time and also has a message behind it.
For those of you who aren't looking to read an essay, I have decided to post a quick summary of the series first. This review is spoiler free (as all reviews should be). :)
Summary: Inside Mari is a captivating psycho-analytical manga, with dazzling art and a fleshed out protagonist. The premise is based off a body switching scenario in which a social outcast finds himself in the body of a popular female girl by the name of Mari. The story is thouroughly engaging and is only hindered by a few plot inconsistencies as well as the fact that it could have been condensed into fewer
chapters. Some of the characters could have been involved and dissected a bit more, but the development of the protagonist makes up for this. The author does a good job of conveying his message to the readers, and you will be lost in thought after you finish the manga. I recommend you read the first 3 chapters and if you don't find yourself hooked by then, this might not be for you.
My rating without personal bias: 7/10
Now firstly I will say that this was an enjoyable read, certainly bing-worthy and I read it in under two weeks. This is a psychologically motivated manga, and it's concepts are explored with a dark palette of colors. It is not for the faint of heart, so if you are unable to take nudity, sexual examination, bullying, ejaculation, depression, extreme social anxiety and a lot of fucking cringe then don't read this.
The basic premise of the story is about a socially awkward hikikomori who lives off the income of his distant parents who innocently believe he is spending his days studying and making friends at college. Ironically he actually goes to college at first, but over time the social atmosphere becomes too overwhelming and he finds refuge playing games in isolation at his apartment. He is infatuated with a girl named Mari who he casually stalks with no harmful intentions. One morning he wakes up to find himself inside Mari's body, but although his former self still exists in the real world, Mari is nowhere to be found.
I gave the story a 7, due to plot conveniences involving a supporting character as well as an inability to execute on its full potential. The quality of its narrative elements remains relatively stagnant throughout the story and by the end, the manga becomes defined by the progress of its psychological components.
The art is gorgeous, and I often found myself completely dazed by the emotional expressions exhibited in the panels. Each scene is crafted carefully, and the mangaka portrays the general atmosphere in every chapter with wonderful precision. I never found myself questioning the correlation between the art displayed and the actually events taking place.
There is a clear change in the mentality of numerous characters throughout the series. In the supporting cast, we see an evolution based on dialogue, facial expression, and the portrayal of their actions.The main character differs from the others in that the development is based on introspection. You are able to see every facet of the protagonist's mind, sometimes to the point of disturbance. So, in this case, the development is driven by introspection rather than self-action, although the two sometimes coincide. This, of course, is to be expected when dealing with characters who are socially troubled.
My rating with personal bias: 8
I gave this story an 8 because I connected deeply with it. Now, something like this might be new to you, but don't be discouraged. There are a lot of scenes that are uncomfortable to read, but I think it's important to note that this is intentional. Don't just skim past those pages, instead look over them and think about why they make you feel the way you do. You might find, no relatable association to these characters but that's not a bad thing. This an emotionally fueled story based on the sentiments a lot of people have gone through in their lives. By understanding them, you are allowing yourself to understand the feelings of more people in the real world.
This is a manga by the Aku no Hana guy. Since it started in 2012, he was writing it concurrently with late-stage Aku no Hana. Because its Shuuzou I can't commentate on the aesthetic front, who is sort of a poor man's Inio Asano, but that does him too much injustice. His drawings are kind of stiff and mostly functional. His faces and characters are more or less same-looking with just slight variation. His plots all deal primary with weird psychosexual Evangelion-esque angst, but with more realism than symbolism or whatever. He probably thoroughly hates society, and hates himself.
The plot, like Aku no Hana, involves
an extremely submissive and good-for-nothing main protagonist, this time a hikikomori, Komori Isao, who finds himself magically transferred into the body of a school-girl. The school-girl in question is the Mari of the title. She's been going to the same convenience store to buy the same things at night, and he keeps seeing her and of course he thinks she's his 'angel'. Each time he'll also stalk her back a bit. But this time when he stalks her back he finds himself in her consciousness.
For a body-swapping plot, the main difference is that this time Mari doesn't go into Isao's body, but rather just vanishes. And now there's two Isaos going about, one which is Mari-Isao, and the other which is his original hikikomori self, completely unaware of the existence of his new counterpart. So of course some can theorize that Mari pulled off a sort of Pierre Menard/Don Quixote thing and decided to 'become' a hikikomori just to experience the type of viewpoint she wouldn't normally have had. Like a bi-personality disorder born from societal pressure. But that's just speculation. In any case its a magical realist thing that doesn't matter, since the how is not exactly the crux of the plot.
The other character is Yuki, who is Mari's 'stalker', and is the first to notice that Mari is not Mari anymore. She's the lowest on the social tier, while Mari is the highest, and the whole story is about how Mari-Isao navigates Mari's past relationships and tries to maintain her social ties, whilst trying to find her original self. Whilst Inio Asano works with high verisimilitude, the difference is Shuuzou, and I don't think this is his failure as a writer but rather his style of getting at the themes he wants to convey, is that his characters are more like archetypes in human bodies. So in Aku no Hana we had the principle of Chaos, Nakamura, and the principle of 'Normalcy', Saeki, and the everyman caught between both, and how all three became amorphous in nature and started to mix into one another. Likewise in here we have Loser-girl Yuki, Loser-guy Isao, the different superficial facets of society represented by Mari's bitchy friends, and the spiritually-hermaphroditic Mari-Isao who serves as the primary explorer navigating these different landscapes. So maybe you could call Shuuzou the 'ecchi-Kafka' (in that case I wouldn't mind calling Asano the ecchi-Dostoyevsky)
In a Synecdoche New York, Charlie Kaufman, kind of way, looking at yourself from an outsider perspective, as in the view of someone else, can lead to interesting revelations. Yuki tells Mari-Isao more about Mari than probably Mari herself acknowledges, and then Mari-Isao in turn overturns the life of Yuki and Isao by forcing them to confront their respective psychoses. Psychosexual and angst filled climactic moments are everywhere. Feels kind of more 'mature' than Aku no Hana, and more focused on meditating upon the themes, but as a result less crazy cathartic.
Probably Shuuzou is also getting outside his comfort zone by writing from a more 'female' perspective, since in this work the amount of female characters are a ton more than the male ones, and thus he spends less time romanticizing male-angst. Especially apparent since Mari-Isao also comes to the conclusion that Isao is a completely horrible useless human being (although also admitting that everyone is sort of like that) and Isao goes through a hell lot more pathetic humiliation and breakdowns than Takao, without the Anarchist breakthrough to go with it. If you go from the perspective that Mari-Isao is a girl rather than a guy in a girl's body, then this manga definitely passes the Bechdel test. Although Shuuzou also has that bleak 'socially active people do stupid useless superficial things' sort of view, and the 'girls enact in brutal social terrorism against each other' sort of view.
So all in all we have a somewhat intense psychological manga about societal farce and why bonding over video-games and getting crazy hyped in karaoke sessions, and Love, is the true path of self-actualization.
I completed this manga around 2 years after I started. In the meantime, I developed a greater skill to analyze art due to my own training in drawing as well as coming in contact with stuff like Sakura no Uta. I take back what I said about Shuuzou's drawings being stiff & mostly functional - because he seriously cross-hatches everything to the point where it all feels like some drifting impressionistic fantasy of a school life. Shuuzou has to be one of the single-best artists working in the world of manga today. You can feel the sheer amount of work emanate from every page. I think he changed his style over time though - because I flipped back to an earlier chapter and it seemed more normal.
Honestly, though, after reading a certain few other works - the psychological aspect isn't as cutting. But there is a caveat. It isn't as cutting if you take it only in terms of the plot elements. On the other hand, the way the art syncs with the psychological states is absurdly ridiculous.
This magisterial cross-hatching Shuuzou pulling off his masterful ziggy-zaggies on the latter sections deepens the narrative a whole lot. I was reading the comments in the later chapters where people were going crazy about how 'silly' it was getting - but on the other hand I think I'd probably return to the later sections more and more just because I want to eat every single page of that cross-hatch goodness that he delivers. How the fuck did Shuuzou get so good? Did he get possessed by the ghost of Van Gogh or something? This will probably remain one of life's greatest mysteries. Now if only he'd stop making those goddamn angst plots and start using his skills for something meatier and more powerful.
Anyway - read this for the psychological angst stuff and stay for the cross-hatching & Yuri.
This series starts out weird and suggests all sorts of strange perversions. The premise is indeed kind of strange:
Komori Isao wakes up one day to find himself in somebody else's room, but it turns out he's actually somehow in the body of Yoshizaki Mari a girl he has been hopelessly following at night. S/he and a classmate try to figure out what happened as Isao tries to maintain Mari's friendships at school.
However, don't let that stop you from reading on. In the beginning Isao is weak-willed and his behavior is cringeworthy at best, but as he sees the troubles surrounding Mari's life, he can't leave
it as is. The mangaka begins to raise questions about identity, gender roles, friendship, and family, which I hope will make the rest of this series a worthy read.