Honto no Kanojo is a Girl's Love manga. There are no heterosexual relationships in this manga, aside from both girl's parents. The only straight guys in this are hardcore into S&M. It's fluffy and cute enough to be worth reading - if S&M doesn't bother you, of course. The best part? It's essentially drama-free. I mean, there's some light drama to add some dimension to the relationship between the girls, but it's nothing unpleasant. I welcome it. Honto no Kanojo cuts away all the fluff and leaves only the most essential fluffy parts of a GL manga.
As you might expect, this GL manga features many,
many girls, and very few boys. It features one gay guy, and, as I was surprised to find out, a few nameless and one-note but fully-drawn men who are into S&M. Virtually every girl important to the story is into girls too, and straight people are into S&M. Aside from some girls at school who are presumably straight and not into S&M, there is no representation of the much larger population of straight people. It's like they don't exist. It feels very weird and unrealistic for every person to be so far from the norm. There is no conflict or pushback or discrimination. Kinda breaks the immersion.
But I kinda like the idea of doing away with all of that heavy-weight stuff. I just wish that the manga would have built some kind of representation of larger society into the world, if only to give the characters and their romance some more dimension. I get not wanting to dirty your hands with played-out drama and tension that has nothing to do with the story you want to tell. It's just that...it kinda needs to be there to be believable. Even if it happens off-screen.
Honto no Kanojo does pretty much everything well enough to keep you hooked, including its modest length (you can finish it in 1-2 hours). It even does some things really well - like amping up the art quality drastically when something significant happens. Oh, and I really like how each chapter is book-ended by two panels of Moe and Yuuka, kind of summing up the chapter with some verbal abuse. It's an entirely acceptable story with a few fun twists, predominately to do with the S&M focus of the series.
Our leads are Moe and Yuuka. Moe is a masochist, she confesses to Yuuka, who is ostensibly a normal person. But she turns her down vilely. And Moe gets a kick out of it, which just throws her deeper into her love for her, and they slowly but steadily get closer to each other over the one and only volume of this manga.
Moe isn't a particularly special character, but she's written well and has some good lines. She is, as the name might imply, a blob of moe. But, as kind of a spin on the ditzy, cute and innocent moe blob of old, she's sexually depraved, cute, and kinda ditzy. Though she does have her moments of brilliant insight. And her backstory adds some dimension to a type of character who writers usually seem to think don't need one.
Yuuka is the protagonist for most of the manga, which is fitting, because she's the one who changes the most. Although, most of her development does happen in the earliest chapters, and the proceeding chapters are more about her relationship with Moe and how it's heading her development to being a more happy and confident person. The best part about her development is that the writer refuses to beat you over the head with it. It's shown through action (and lack thereof). Good stuff.
Also, I just want to say that it's nice for maid uniforms to not be revealing for a change. And the pajamas are incredibly cute.
There's some light verbal abuse, a lotttt of perverted faces from Moe, and some slightly over-done but refreshingly-handled scenarios. As I say, it's largely predictable, but that doesn't stop it from being fun to read. And as much as there are copious mentions of S&M in this volume, there is not much S&M going on. Because Honto no Kanojo actually deals with Moe and Yuuka as characters, not as symbols to exemplify sadism and masochism. Which is a nice change of pace from most gimmick manga. I initially thought that this series was one of those gimmick manga, actually; you know, those series that have a spin on a familiar formula, but adds nothing of real substance because it sticks to established archetpyes, scenarios and morals. Honto no Kanojo isn't like that.
Make no mistake - Honto no Kanojo is a gimmick manga. It's a good one, though. With actual characters, and a tight narrative that manages to be just the right amount of fluffy and cute, without entirely stripping drama away from it. Honto no Kanojo has just enough depth to it to make you feel like reading it was worth it, without dropping anything heavy on your head.
It's concise, well-told, exactly what it says on the tin, entirely acceptable, nothing particularly special, but nonetheless a fun and worthy read. I'm not sure if it's just because I haven't read GL in a while, but the romance was completely on-point. It was really pleasant, developed rather naturally (though it did sometimes feel like the story was missing a few things here and there), and meets with a fitting end. But most importantly, it's not long enough to dip to mediocrity.
If there was a line that could summarise what Honto no Kanojo wants to say, I think it would be:
"Love is a powerful thing!"
And not only romantic love, mind you. It's kind of weird to say that Moe is strong and is the one who helps Yuuka become stronger, but it's the truth. It's because of Moe's love for herself and her passions that she's able to so unashamedly be herself.
It's simple, but powerful. Both love and Honto no Kanojo.
Want to read a cute, fluffy, short GL manga with a very non-obnoxious tsundere and a moe blob with some character? Honto no Kanojo is your man.