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Recently I've signed on to the J-Novel Club and became a member. For those of you who may not know the J-Novel Club, it's a publisher both for light novels and manga. Its series include (relative) blockbusters such as Slayers, Holmes of Kyoto, By the Grace of Gods, Otherside Picnic, Full Metal Panic!, Ascendance of a Bookworm, but also many lesser known — and some at least to my taste outright bizarre — ones.
As part of the membership scheme you get access to a few series that are picked out for “this Month's Catchup Series” which this month includes Girls Kingdom, Lazy Dungeonmaster and, well, “I Love Yuri and I Got Bodyswapped With a Fujoshi!”. Having seen okazu's rather lacklustre review of the first volume, I probably wouldn't have considered buying this four-volume manga series. However, having them served on a platter, I was curious.
The title is almost the summary — the manga's main protagonist, Reiji Yoshida, is a closet and insecure yuri otaku. His one and only passion in live seem to be yuri stories.
His much more self-assured and outgoing classmate Mitsuru Hoshina not only presides over the manga club, whose only member she currently is. She's also a not-so-closet BL fan, a fujoshi.
Reiji's worst fears come true when he runs into Mitsuru during Comiwa, loaded with all sorts of Yuri paraphernalia. He starts to panic when shortly afterwards Mitsuru summons him to the clubroom of the manga club, being sure that his cover has been busted. It becomes amply clear how uneasy he's in his shoes. In reality, Mitsuru just wants to return a small, yuri-themed fan that Reiji had lost — though his panic reaction gives her the idea to blackmail him into entering the manga club.
In the ensuing shuffle they both end up on the floor in somewhat compromising position — which in turn enrages Manko, the manga room's resident ghost, who's at least as much of a repressed prude as Reiji. Manko curses the two to swap bodies. To Manko's great satisfaction, Reiji ends up in Mitsuru's body and she in Reiji's.
Of course, this swap doesn't only affect their bodies — it also affects their whole social setting. Mitsuru-as-Reiji has to move with his family, whereas Reiji-as-Mitsuru has to find his way in Mitsuru's apartment. Their respective environments quickly sense something is off. As a teenager Reiji's mother Tokiko was herself a fanatic fujoshi with a world-class collection of BL manga in the basement. She's super happy that her “son” suddenly shares her passion. Mitsuru's circle of friends in turn has to cope with a suddenly insecure “Mitsuru”, who in spite of his fascination with yuri doesn't know the last thing about makeup and other feminine social conventions.
This manga series shows how both explore their new identities. Reiji-as-Mitsuru acquaints himself with BL, a genre that he previously despised, and starts to appreciate its aesthetics. Mitsuru-as-Reiji does the same for yuri. What is more, the two teenagers now depend on each other for their social survival.
The manga club becomes the hub of a slowly growing circle of friends with similar passions. Unsurprisingly for a slice-of-life storyline, romantic feelings between the friends quickly start to complicate things. Especially Reiji-as-Mitsuru is out of his depths, whereas suddenly-secure-and-cool Mitsuru-as-Reiji turns eyes. The shenanigans of the Mitsuru, Reiji, Manko, Tokiko, and their friends make up most of the volumes two to four. I'll not spoil the story for you here — suffice it to say that Reiji surprises me in becoming quite conscious on the limits of how far he can go in his borrowed body without violating Mitsuru's right to self-determination.
I'm still not sure if I'd actually go and buy the four volumes of the series. However, I don't regret reading them at all — they more even than Mitsuru and Reiji I enjoyed meeting Manko and Tokiko.
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