Rejected way too many times by good-looking (and unattainable) guys, shy Riiko Izawa goes online and signs up for a free trial of a mysterious Nightly Lover "figure." The very next day a cute naked guy is delivered to her door, and he wants to be her boyfriend! Has Riiko died and gone to heaven? The cute guy turns out to be sweet, smart, a great cook, and lots more. And he looks like a million bucks, which is what he's going to cost Riiko if she doesn't return him in time...
I have been a Fushigi Yuugi otaku since the past 9 years now, so when I finally got around to checking out Watase's other works, Zettai obviously stood out for its more swoony description and the unbeatable bishi artwork. You'll be hard pressed to find a dreamier android boytoy than Night Tenjou! Or a more thoughtful one. Though that's not all Zettai boasts of...
You obviously know that a girl unwittingly orders herself an android-like boyfriend online, but what arrives is nothing robotic or even human. Superhuman maybe! He's charming and makes her weak in the knees but obviously, just when a couple has found happiness,
the boy next door (literally) has to suddenly confess his undying love for the heroine. Grr. Trials and tribulations ensue, though not all of them are of the hackneyed kind. Some situations like sticking together in a couple's spa despite running naked and protecting your boyfriend's chastity by climbing up a balcony are pretty darn novel! It's not something you stop crying for even after the fifth or sixth read and that's really saying something about a 6 volume manga!
Art wise, I see similarities in how Night and Tamahome and other Watase bishies are drawn, it's almost identical, but I guess dashing knights in shining armors always end up looking equally swoon-worthy! The few action sequences, combat or otherwise are done masterfully, with each character's motion and style being unique. Riico is drawn well enough but what really stands out in this manga is her and everyone else's chibi expressions! Really, the range of facials these SD characters are capable of puts us lowly humans to shame! Each page is littered with plenty of them, and you can especially look forward to Gaku being his eccentric self, chibi and otherwise with plenty of smart ass dialogues and odd angles to his eyebrows which induce the giggles only too easily.
Each character is thoroughly invested in, they aren't just cardboard cut outs of ideal boy, naive love starved ingénue, and infatuated boy next door.
I adored how Night was portrayed as this naive but besotted lover figure that is hopelessly devoted to making Riiko happy and is still learning the ropes... Though maybe he goes a bit far sometimes like when he asks Soshi if he knows what Riico's sensitive spots are! However, his quixotic view of his undying feelings for Riico despite his physical limitations fully exonerates him of any slights he may have made along the way. Little things he does like remake a broken bracelet and offer his own services to help make money which he's not supposedly programmed to do, make him an endearing character.
I'm not a huge Soshi fan, so I can't appreciate him as well, but the fellow had his moments. He was always coming to Riico's rescue when he could, and was forever on the lookout for semi-vulnerable moments where he'd entrance Riico with his personal understated charm. He was depicted realistically, as being shy and hiding his feelings at first with incessant teasing but only realizing their true depth when his position as No.1 Comforter was threatened.
Of course Riico is the lead in so many ways. Though she appears to simply be looking for a (read any living, breathing, capable of physical intimacy) boyfriend, she shows a lot of moral restraint throughout the story as well as moments of unprecedented maturity and personal sacrifice whenever Night's safety is in question. Sure she's clumsy and mediocre and prone to jealousy and insecurity, but really, which 16 year old isn't? She's just a character we're supposed to relate to, so it's expected of her to have tangible flaws.
Secondary characters lend the most flair to this manga, and Gaku tops that list hands down! His cheeky delivery of in-your-face dialogues along with outrageously lurid suggestions regarding Riico’s virginity makes him a most likeable candidate for comedic relief. Then there's Riico's new friend who brings her own back story into the plot. Clever little side characters like Riico and Soshi's boss at the restaurant assure you that the manga is not taking your sense of humor for granted and surely wants to titillate your palette right through the end.
Hmm, most importantly of course, being that it's shoujo, there are plenty and I mean PLENTY of those almost intimate moments that make your heart scream ba thump ba thump. There's enough fan service courtesy Night to keep you up at night cursing Riico's great fortune and drooling at his physique at the same time. And there are also some heart wrenching scenes with both Night and Soshi to make you lose your train of though for just an instant and simply stare into the character's (magnificently drawn) faces!
I think you should definitely give this a read. The plotline becomes less trite and predictable after the first three chapters, and you're sucked into this beautiful realm where the only ideal in a bishie's existence is to be the best boyfriend possible at all costs! Personally I feel the ending is a little abrupt and unfinished somehow, but not something that makes you regret reading Zettai. If Watase were to come out with a sequel or related work even after some years, I know I would be an instant fan.
While shorter than Fushigi Yuugi, Zettai Kareshi invokes the same passionate responses in readers that FY possibly did. You fall in love with characters and their weaknesses and strengths, you cheer for a couple to stay together and feel oddly anxious when they face obstacles (So much so that you want to jump into the panel and rip apart the occasional villains and just force Night on Riico!). I think Yuu Watase is very skilled at making you really become a part of her fascinating world like this. You want to vicariously live Riico's life here and once you start the manga, I'm pretty sure you won't have the control to put it down without devouring it whole!
I'm a huge Yuu Watase fan, but her latest story didn't capture my attention as some of her other works. Her art as always is gorgeous and I could totally relate to Reiko, moreso than any of her other heroines. But after the first two volumes, the story got kinda...old. It just started to drag on. I guess because I always like the guy the heroine doesn't choose (except in FY and A19), but I've enjoyed her other series despite my disappointment ; D. For a fun and cute summer read, I would definetly recommend and anyone who is a Watase fan will enjoy, but
it's not one of her better works.
As it's been said before, Zettai Kareshi, or Absolute Boyfriend, is a tale of the main character falling in love with an android. Though it may seem strange, as you continue to read, you grow to love the characters as they are all original and unique in their own way. (I, personally, am in love with Soshi).
Fantastic art (Yuu Watase is the author of Fushigi Yugi and "Ceres") and amazing choice of panels and story layout - though some bits grow very far-fetched - as it includes humorous and beautifully crafted scenes for all to see!
Perfect ending, in my opinion. The story, overall, makes the
reader emotional and utterly interested, pleasing the eyes with pleasurable pictures (for girls at least... though you catch a few naked women at times) so it really is almost perfect.
The only downside is that is that I find the character, Night, very... off-putting. That's all.
Absolute boyfriend is in theory like Chobits but with the roles reversed. However, unlike Chob\its or Hand Maid May which were pure joyous ecchi (for the most part) Absolute boyfriend has a sad ending. Up to that point this is an entertaining, funny, steamy, bodice-ripper of a manga. There. Don't say I didn't warn you if you're looking for redemption.
Story: Girl is desperate for a boyfriend. Girl finds mysterious way to order boyfriend on the internet. Inexplicably, everyone around her suddenly finds her utterly irresistable and are pissed that she now has a mail-order boyfriend. Rest
of story finds her torn between the different men.
The story is more soap opera than anything else, and the high-school drama gets a little overwhelming at times. On the other hand, the author has a bad habit of pulling sci-fi plot twists without a lot of logic behind them which can get particularly frustrating.
Art: Fine. Nice art, good proportions. Pretty boys, generic girl.
Characters: Not overly-developed, but they fit the purpose. One definitely gets attached to them as time goes on.
Enjoyment: Pretty good....until the end.
Overall: Short series, entertaining and fun, but heartbreaking. Bring tissues.