As much as I like my Steins;Gates, Fate/Zeros and Evangelions, there are far too many things about the Slice of Life genre that attract me so much to it. Probably because the so-called "otaku" influence had gotten to my head and got me so into such mundane settings. However, quite recently, I learned the reason as to why Slice of Life is, really, my most favorite genre and that is, not because I can relate, not because there are short skirts abound and most definitely not because I'm a teenager but ultimately because of the complexity of mundane human beings. Now, I know it
sounds weird and creepy but it is what really makes the genre so captivating.
Now, I know most Slice of Life anime have failed to accomplish bringing about the highest potential of its most attractive feature, which is a shame, especially since most shows coming out nowadays pander to "otaku" standards and mostly create situations to make the viewer cry whilst trashing character exposition. (I'm looking at you, Charlotte). But when normal slice of life characters, the plainest you can find, are put into situations that can be life changing and a threat to their daily routine, and this is delivered to a great effect, we have Shishunki Bitter Change.
For a manga that's less than obscure, I'm probably giving it too much credit. But from what I've read thus far (22 chapters), I'm pretty sure I'm not.
Now, if you haven't read the synopsis and went straight to the reviews (What's wrong with you?), Shishunki Bitter Change revolves around two kids, a boy and a girl, who experience a body-swap and this said body-swap goes on for about six years. Yes, SIX YEARS (so far). Now that we have the huge introduction in order, on to the actual review.
Now, in majority of works, the idea of "genderbending" is often used as a gag. Now, don't get me wrong. Watching a dude trapped in a girl's body or vice versa, running about the hallways, getting in all sorts of mundane and perverted situations is, well, funny. This is evident in series like Yamada-kun, Pretty Face and Ouran High. But, what Shishunki does with this trope is entirely different. For a span of almost a decade, two individuals are trapped inside each others' body and takes a more serious approach on the trope. Yes, it does call for a lot of hilarious situations as the two try to cope with their new bodies (And not very original either. A Yamada moment here, and an Ouran moment there) but what's most evident is their actual struggle to maintain an image. The two main characters, while learning to cope, are in search also for a cure to their bodies. Though this plotline is heavily ignored throughout the progression of the story, the subplots helps the reader ignore this as well. And, there isn't much of a plot as Shishunki is, mainly, a character driven story.
Enter Yuuta and Yui, the two victims of this supernatural phenomena. Though the start is a bit rocky and cliche, the real juice comes from the actual interaction and actions these characters take. While in separate bodies, the two begin to react to each other's background and family and learn about each other as a result. As the two learn more about each other, they also learn more about other people and the opposite gender and are able to take action based on what they understand. This makes for one of the most interesting takes on human understanding, as, while they have an image to maintain, the two characters act in a way that they really do learn from others and act upon these new instincts. Though this theme is present among most genderbender stories, it's never used as the main meat of the series, whereas here, its one of its most interesting and key features.
Now, while both main characters are stars of the show, the story puts more emphasis on Yui, who suffers the most from this bitter change (no pun intended).
While Yuuta is able to cope with the change well, Yui suffers from both her own background and losing her identity to time and Yuuta tries to catch up to understanding this, though ever so slowly. When they're together, they're like a cat and mouse. They dislike each others' attitude and is often presented comedically. However, these two understand each other more when they're not together. An example is Yui, who sees how different "Yui" has become with Yuuta on the reigns. He's more active and friendlier to other people, which is self defeating when compared to Yui's past self. Just goes to show how different people really are.
The side characters are what really keep this story moving forward. Sounds a lot like plot device galore, no? Their interaction with the main characters impacts both themselves and the main characters, who both learn from each other. This is really what makes this manga shine- the character interaction. Even now, in its current high schools setting, among archetypes galore, the way they interact is still so interesting to read as their talks really reflect on one another. None of the conversation or exposition (unless intentionally comedic or pointless) feel shallow which is refreshing for a manga about genderbending.
As far as art goes... It's not the best. The drawings are simple but clean to look at. The 5-panel per page model is off-putting at first but it's acquired once you get used to it.
For the verdict, this manga gets a 9 from me, so far. I recommend Shishunki Bitter Change to anyone looking for the best the Body-Switch genre has to offer. A personal bias, of course, but it's just that good.
(TL;DR - It's good. It might not become shit so read it, k?)
The Gender-Bending genre. A genre that has mostly inclined for comedy, for understandable reasons. Men and women are quite different between each other, both physically and psychologically. Placing a man's psyche in a woman's body provokes humor because of the contrasts between the unfamiliarity of the situation and the previous familiarity of being in one's body. Ranging from works like Boku Girl to Baka and Test, men who possess feminine appearances are treated as a comedic exercise. Few works truly delve into the question: "What if you were a girl instead of a guy?" and vice versa in a serious manner. The closest example is
Wandering Son, a manga that starred a Trans girl and guy. Keep in mind however, that gender-benders usually didn't ask to have their genders changed. Trans people in real life generally want to change their genders due to a variety of reasons.
Shishunki Bitter Change is a refreshing change of pace that deconstructs the gender bender genre, though not in the sense that Evangelion did. Evangelion's dissection of mecha tropes were used to generate horror and other macabre emotions, while musing on the philosophy of the human mind. Shishunki Bitter Change lacks the horror of Evangelion and replaces it with a careful exploration of different changes, all bitter. There are two elementary school children. They are Yuuta and Yui. While bickering among themselves, they find that their bodies have swapped. From this point on, they have to deal with the typical burdens of life whilst dealing with the uncomfortable experience being in someone else's body. Things like romance and familial relationships are made worse by this uncomfortable contrast from desire and reality. However, because of this experience, Yuuta and Yui have bonded inadvertently, becoming good friends as they try to cope with this experience. Their interactions with the various side characters, from the stoic but understanding Kazuma to the enthusiastic Hikaru allow the main characters to shine, moving the plot forward.
It has a fairly slow pace, but that is not a problem. After all, their lives have changed drastically. What's the point in seeing how they react to this if we the readers do not see their lives play out? This is something commendable on the author's part. The art is nothing spectacular. It's simple and clean, but otherwise unremarkable. The character designs are cute, but not cute enough to provoke feelings of moe. For example, you never see Yui in a maid outfit. There's no otaku pandering in this story that I can recall, which is a relief considering how "cute girls doing cute things" is the norm nowadays.
In conclusion, it was a surprising manga that averted and deconstructed much of the cliches of the gender-bender genre without being too blatant about it. Some deconstructions don't have to be completely horrifying, such as Evangelion. After all, life isn't completely full of deceit and horror. Life is also full of bittersweet moments, nostalgia, longing, desire, and the like. Not every change in the manga was for the worse. But overall, it was a bitter change.
It takes a concept usually reserved for comedies, the idea of two adolescents swapping bodies, which is usually a lead in for a poorly done romance story. A popular example of this type of story, although I have yet to see it, is Kimi no Wa (Your Name), which from what I've read is a fairly usual affair of a boy and girl switching bodies.
So, if this concept is usually poorly done, why would I give Shishunki a 9/10? Well, that is because Shishunki focuses on the bad part of what could happen while in someone else's body. Whereas
the average body swapping manga would have one character mess up around the other MC's parents, resulting in said character going 'B-BAKA' and the whole scene would be played for comedy.
**From this point on, Yui in Yuuta's body will be called just Yui and vice versa for Yuuta**
In Shishunki, a similar scene is done. Yui's parents have been neglectful of her for a long while before the change, and a while into the swap, Yuuta gets pissed and flips out at Yui's parents. This results in a dramatic change that improves Yui's home life immensely, and when Yui finds out, she gets mad that Yuuta managed to cause this change while she could only suffer through her parent's neglect. It plays the whole body swap concept straight.
Now then, I'll go into the aspects that make up the score system. Story, Art, Character and Enjoyment.
For story, I think it's great. It's one of those fabled 'deconstructions' of the genre, and ignore the fact that deconstruction is only used by mouthbreathers who think BnHA is as good as Part 1 of Nardo, as Shishunki is an actual deconstruction. It plays the whole concept straight, which is why the full name is 'Shishunki Bitter Change', Bitter being the key word. Everything in the story is representative of this name, with the change having an overall negative effect on Yui and Yuuta's personal life. While their social lives are for the most part still good, their relationships with each other and their mental health takes its toll over the course of the story, hitting its peak when a certain cook is introduced and befriend's Yuuta.
I won't say anything else on the story, as I'd go into spoilers. And word of warning, the original webcomic that preceded the manga was especially bitter when it came to the ending, but there have been many changes between the manga and webcomic, which means that the ending will be less bitter this time around.
The Art isn't anything to write home about. It's cute, the characters emote well, it's passable. And the backgrounds are usually simplistic or aren't there. Not saying they're in issue, just a bit lazy. Characters are cute though. Specially the guitar guy.
Characters are great, especially the new additions from the transition to manga, those being the weird girl and the guitar guy. The weakest character I'd say would have to be Yui. Her struggles boil down to 'I want Kazuma but I'm a dude!!!1!!!11'. But they make up for that with Yuuta's struggles that are at one point get to 'When will Yui stop lusting after my best friend while in my body?', and every character has their fair share of drama and personal issues.
And I put Enjoyment at 10/10. It kept me interested enough to wait on inconsistent updates (the scanlator tries his best but it's very inconsistent when he uploads from what I've seen. Still, I'm glad he does it, as nobody scanlated the webcomic, and it isn't in as bad a state as FKMT manga a few years back).
"Shishunki Bitter Change", or "Gender Bender: Can't Return to Sender" isn't great. I'd hesitate to call it good, but I certainly can't call it bad, either. It's just serviceable. It's a light, breezy read with some chuckles and a few moments of genuine pathos but there's little else too it than that.
Maybe that's all you want, but personally I like a little cheese on my crackers.
Having the characters swap at an early age and then committing to it as they continue to age up through High School, with all the angst that comes with, is an interesting direction to take, and there's plenty of room
to mine for drama or comedy, but it feels like it only skims the surface more often than not. The drama's never too deep and the comedy's never uproarious, so it often treads this middle ground of being just funny or compelling enough to keep you reading, but not enough to leave any lasting impression or have more than a handful of effective moments.
How many times can two characters stand face to face, cry, hug, and completely wall up before we've gone through every variation?
The pace is blistering fast, and that might keep SBC from taking the time to mine the premise for all its worth, but the bigger issue is likely the characters. The two leads are great. They're cliches, yeah, but they an earnest sort of chemistry and bounce off each other well. The problem is more with the rest of the cast, and by that I mean there isn't one. Most everyone else here is entirely flat, one-note, and forgettable. If you're on this site, you know these character types by heart. Don't expect surprises.
Also, the whole world knows your taste is shit and sniggers behind your back.
The biggest hindrance point is the art. I'd call it bog standard but I think bogs have more detail and variety. Backgrounds and foregrounds are sparse and bare, utterly devoid of character, the paneling is flat and rarely changes, and there's so much filler that it makes you wonder how long each chapter would be if you just cut every panel of white space and by the numbers establishing shots.
They photoshop the plaid patterns on the pants. Come on, it's 2016, people. Have you not noticed the year in which we are living, which is the current one?
It gets the job done, it rides the threshold of competence, but it's so lackluster and phoned in that it's almost superfluous. Why bother if you're not going to bother at all? We got books now.
For all the shit-picking and nit-flinging this is still enjoyable. Like I said, there are some nice moments; it's never quite touching, but it's close enough that you can give it credit and round up. SBC's amusing enough, but what could've been a real neat sort of story just ends up being alright. It okay.
If SBC happens to tumble onto your screen and that red x button at the top of your browser is too hard to scroll through, give it a read.
I came to read this manga thanks to a weird obsession with body swap manga lately. I started it hoping for an okay manga, wasn't expecting much. BOY WAS I WRONG! I read all current chapters out, (up to 60.2) And I CRAVE MORE!
The way they swap bodies isn't very intresting or very new. After that the story improves very much. Still has cliches, but that's fine. The story is fantastic, and a great slice of life feel. It doesn't yet go into a lot of detail about how this happened to them, and I don't believe it will in the future.
can be amazing and beautiful at times, at it's worst it looks like it was drawn on a cheap webtablet. The art is never "bad" it can just be basic sometimes. The covers are always amazing, and this manga has some of the best reaction faces.
One thing about this manga is that it's based on a webcomic by the same person. The webcomic has so little characters is was disappointing. So this time we get way better main characters fleshed out, and an amazing supporting cast! There are a few supporting cast members I don't like, but i can look past it for the other amazing supporting cast.
I love this manga. I binge read it in two days... I put aside all the anime I need to watch to focus solely on this manga. It inspires me, and I love that. The creator is amazing at showing the downs of being a teen, and the hardships of watching someone else live out your dreams. I laughed, I cried, I cried quite a bit. I panicked at points worried for the characters too. In all I enjoyed it a LOT.
Overall I recommend this manga so much! If you are looking for a manga with little action, more slice of life then this is the one for you. This manga is so much fun, and there were little to no lows in the manga. I want you all to please give it a shot. Not saying it will change your life, but it definitely improved mine.
I'm not really one for writing reviews, but i just couldn't miss out here. Shishunki Bitter Change is a criminally underrated manga, and while the premise may turn you off at first, i guarantee it is nothing like you'd expect from a gender bender. I was a massive fan of Kokoro Connect and came in to this expecting something similar. Probably not as dark and probably a bit more fan-service. I was glad to be wrong.
Story - 8/10
Honestly the story isn't overly special, I predicted some of the major plot points within the first few chapters, but to be honest that was due to
great foreshadowing. It's what you'd expect for a Slice of Life manga. Plenty of highs and lows that tie together to provide a great platform for the characters to really shine. The first few chapters may feel incredibly rushed, as it goes through 5 years extremely quickly, but that's to get to the main setting, which is High School (surprise).
Characters - 10/10
Where do i start here? Yuuta and Yui are two of my favourite characters from any medium of entertainment. It was refreshing to see the main characters actually get on with their lives, despite the extreme circumstances they find themselves in. The way that Masayoshi handles Yuuta's development throughout is one of my personal highlights.
The supporting cast is incredible too. Despite not being main characters, Aoki, Tachibana and many others leave a profound effect on both the characters and the reader themselves. They all have their individual quirks and running gags, but they really shine when they interact with either Yui or Yuuta. The premise of the series results in some really interesting dynamics between characters. They can be heart-wrenching or hilarious, which is exactly what you want from a cast of characters.
Art - 9/10
I'm not going to pretend i know how to critique art. But i never noticed anything negative about Masayoshi's artwork, so i'll give it a 9. I fell he handles facial expressions really well and the character designs of the supporting cast are all interesting enough to keep them fresh in your mind.
Enjoyment - 10/10
I loved this manga, probably to the point where you could say this review is biased. It just completely caught me off guard. If you're a fan of series such as Last Game, Kokoro Connect or any sort of Slice of Life / Romance i highly recommend you read this. It's a fresh outlook on the whole "gender bend" concept which i think the genre was crying out for.
Only 1 review? How can people judge if is worth to read from that short synopsis?
Here s my thoughts about this manga!
First, yes, the story talks about two childs that swap their bodies, but that s not all, through the manga we see how at first this condition cause big troubles for our protagonists, but slowly they get used to it. The reader can notice the emotions that they feel, and that's possible thanks to the good work that the autor has done.
Think that now that they re used to the body swapping plot it get better?
No, it get worst, that's because they grow, the
story has a time skip of 6 years, it starts when they are little and then progress skipping few years here and there to focus on the mentality of our MCs, their changes, their feelings, and most importantly their, "her", love problems; but probably as the manga will go on his too, because he seems to have a crush for her.
I don't want to ruin things, just read it and you discover all by yourself, is a easy to read and is not even that long, just about 20 pages for chapter, the art is clear and well done so you shouldnt have problems to understand what's going on.
As for the character their our typical childish but friendly guy and the lonely and not very good to socialize girl.
I was enjoying this manga but... its not over... I have to wait :'(
If you are like me that can't wait, just put on your manga list that you want to read, I couldn't wait, I was courious and now I'm here saying I shouldn't have read because I really can't wait to know what's going to happen next, even if I think I know what's going to happen, just hope the autor is going to make me say: WOW I didn't expect this, but even if it turns out like I'm imaginating it will turn out you should definetly read because it's a good one to read!
Hope this review will help someone to decide if it's worth or not, just give it a chance if you like slice of life or romance, it will surely make you want to read more just like I do.
Even though this manga is not completed yet, I'd like to review on what I've read so far (up to chapter 36).
While the art is very simple, it works and is kind of cute in its own way. The art isn't ugly, just plain. It has its own charm to it.
The characters are very well done. I feel very emotionally attached to the two main characters and even the side characters are very realistically portrayed.
I thought this was going to be something light and fluffy like Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, with the body swapping. It would have even been alright if it was as
serious as Kokoro Connect with its body swapping parts. But no, this manga is not like any body swapping scenario I've seen before. It truly reflects the title, bitter change, because as I read it I feel nothing but bitterness.
While nothing sad is particularly happening, no one is dying, no one is getting injured, no one is being abused or betrayed, and all of the characters are usually smiling, I can't help but choke up and cry while I read this. I'll come across a scene where the characters are just standing around talking and suddenly I'll be holding back tears. While nothing horrible is happening, this is a very sad situation in my opinion.
The two main characters, at about the age of 10, swap bodies. Immediately I assumed how the story would go from there. They'd learn about each other's lives and solve each other's problems and eventually return to their own bodies and maybe even fall in love. But this turns into something completely different. These poor children, so far, spend 1/3 of their lives in the body of the other.
I keep thinking, why, why, why do they have to suffer through this? It would be one thing if they simply swapped genders, but why bodies? The idea may seem entertaining at first, but I feel like these poor kids are being tortured. This is a much more serious manga than you'd expect it to be. It causes me so much pain that I hesitate to give it a ten, but since the manga can even make me feel pain it means that it deserves that ten.
This is a good manga but if you think as much as I do, this is not for the weak of mind and heart. It really makes you feel for the two main characters.
I read the final translated release a day or two ago and finished this manga at 77 chapters. I'll remove this part when the page gets updated.
Just personal scratch.
Advised, possible spoilers.
Opinion & Informal
Fine. Anatomy and proportions checked out. Backgrounds looked about average. Not much nature showcases or environmental scenery. Interior details were a bit sparse at times but were fine for the most part. Supporting details looked alright. A few nice-looking impact panels and shots. Overall, the art was fine.
Panel Progression: 7/10
Good pacing. Feelings expressed nicely and panel design was thought out. Flair in a lot of panel cutting. Helpful amount of supporting tones
in many of the panels. Dialogue content was clear and wasn't obtruding on the panel real estate.
Such a good focus on the personal feelings of the characters and their inward battles regarding their respective life situations, their feelings for one another, how they affect each other's "real" lives, and the future of a possibility of never returning to their original bodies.
Plot & Development: 7/10
One of the most in-depth stories on "walking a mile in another's shoes," in this case, a lifetime.
Different from the web-comic, well done and appreciated as I prefer happy endings.
Since I didn't read this in one go, and I read it over the course of greater than a year, this is something that I plan on re-reading to write a more detailed review with specific examples of why I thought such and such, but overall what I can say that reading this as it came along was a good journey. This is one of the most detailed stories of empathy I've read so far. This is worth reading.