Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches is a manga series that is presently being distributed in English speaking countries courtesy of Kodansha Comics USA. The comic is the brainchild of artist Miki Yoshikawa (creator of Flunk Punk Rumble) and has appeared within the pages of Weekly Shonen Magazine since February 2012. The book is recommended for fans of gender bending, which is a surprisingly popular thing. During my brief time in airport security you wouldn’t believe how many blokes the x-ray body scanners detected wearing lacy underwear and bras. After spotting a five hundred pound chap sporting a G-string I promptly handed in my notice.
This manga stars two high schoolers named Ryu Yamada and Urara Shiraishi who are polar opposites. The titular Yamada is a delinquent who is teetering on the verge of expulsion whilst Shiraishi is an academic prodigy who effortlessly achieves the highest grades in her class. One day Yamada accidently trips down some stairs causing him to lock lips with the aforementioned bookworm. The unintended kiss causes the pair to swap bodies, which leads to much hilarity and a surprising upturn in fortune for both parties. Using her smarts, Shiraishi aces a bunch of exams saving Yamada from getting expelled whilst Yamada’s fighting prowess makes short work of some bullies who had been targeting Shiraishi.
The bizarre change in personalities doesn’t go unnoticed however. After a few chapters student council vice president Toranosuke Miyamura uncovers that the couple are able to shift bodies via smooching. Keen to investigate the phenomena Miyamura resurrects the defunct Supernatural Studies Club, as an excuse to have a clubroom where Yamada and Shiraishi can privately embrace without revealing their secret to the rest of the school. The plan goes awry though when a paranormal junkie named Miyabi Ito insists on joining the club. What shenanigans will Yamada’s powers cause and how will Ito’s unwanted presence hamper his body swapping routine? Only time will tell.
I have to say that I was very impressed with this inaugural volume in the Yamada-kun franchise. The artwork is decent, albeit a little cartoonier than some other mangas I have recently read, and the book itself is good value for money. The £6.39 paperback (£5.06 kindle edition) gives you almost two hundred pages worth of content to peruse, with each panel having a fair amount of dialogue to digest. I found Miki Yoshikawa’s comedy stylings to be thoroughly amusing and was relieved to see that the book didn’t become fixated with gender reversal gags. A more lowbrow title would have easily fallen into the trap of having all the jokes revolve around Yamada pervert-idly exploiting his situation.
My rating for this first volume of Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches is four stars. Based on this strong start I am not surprised to learn that the manga has been adapted into both an anime and live action series. I enjoyed seeing how the leads overcome strife by propping up each other’s weaknesses and am keen to see what happens next. Could magic be responsible for the body swapping hijinks? No hints have been offered yet, aside from the cover showcasing Shiraishi in a witch’s garb. I’m also wondering how a potential Yamada/ Shiraishi romance would work. Given their predicament, should they get amorous wouldn’t they just end up kissing their own face? That’s almost as disturbing as spying an obese guy in a thong.