cover image Never Give Up, Vol. 1

Never Give Up, Vol. 1

Hiromu Mutou, . . Tokyopop, $9.99 (204pp) ISBN 978-1-59816-165-6

Glamorous sexual ambiguity, a familiar aspect of manga, is the focus of this shojo story. When she was a little girl, Kiri fell in love with the beautiful boy next door, Tohya. She still loves him now that they are in high school together, but she has grown up tall and broad-shouldered while he is slim and delicate. She feels unattractive, unlike Tohya, who is so exquisitely lovely that he is beginning to work as a fashion model. Because Kiri can't stand to be apart from him, she decides to become a model, too, but the only job open is for a young man. Manga readers won't be surprised to see Kiri become popular as "Tatsuki" or to see her catch the attention of male model Akira, son of a gay fashion designer, who is attracted to "him" and even more turned on by the schoolgirl Kiri who looks so much like Tatsuki—while Kiri anxiously waits for Tohya's reaction. The story contains little overt sex, just lots of angst as strong feelings morph the characters from cool fashion illustrations in one panel to round-headed caricatures of themselves in the next. The volatile insecurity may accurately represent how adolescents view themselves, but adult readers are apt to giggle. (Apr.)