Sunday, January 26, 2020

REVIEW: My Girlfriend's a Geek (manga, vol. 2) story by Pentabu, art by Rize Shinba, translated by Stephen Paul

My Girlfriend's a Geek is a contemporary romantic comedy series based on the real-life relationship of author Pentabu and his girlfriend. I wrote about the first volume of Pentabu's original book about 7 years ago.


Taiga gets excited when Yuiko asks if she can use his computer because hers is broken - it'll be her first time visiting Taiga's apartment, and they'll be alone together! However, the situation isn't quite what Taiga thinks it is. Also in this volume: Taiga continues the BL fanfic Yuiko asked him to write but has difficulty viewing the characters the same way she does; Taiga meets Yuiko's friends and is forced to go to a school uniform cafe with them; there's a new guy at Yuiko's workplace who she's nicknamed "Milan"; and Taiga feels conflicted about the way Yuiko views him.

Okay, wow, this volume was actually worse than the first one. There was a lot more going on, and as someone who has played dating sims and dealt with the difficulty of selecting decent BL manga based off of the cover art and description alone, I could relate to some of the things Yuiko talked about. Unfortunately, the series doubled down on Yuiko's inability to see, hear, or do anything without viewing it through a fujoshi lens.

Literally any time Taiga spoke to or was near another attractive guy, Yuiko mentally paired him up with that guy and then usually brought that pairing up with Taiga in a conversation, even though it clearly made him uncomfortable. Also, Taiga repeatedly told Yuiko that he wanted her to call him by his real name, and she repeatedly ignored him and continued to call  him Sebas.

I honestly don't think Yuiko viewed Taiga as a real person, and certainly not as her boyfriend. Instead, he was just a guy she could cast in different real-life BL fantasies. Near the end of the volume, Taiga asked Yuiko why none of her fantasies ever included herself, so she tried out a few options, including Yuiko x Sebas, and rejected them as not really doing much for her. When Taiga took offense, Yuiko claimed she was just kidding and said "I'm just not a fan of real person B.L." (144). That...sounded suspiciously like she'd just admitted that, in all her fantasies with Taiga and other men, Taiga and those men weren't real people. Taiga's complaints about Yuiko's habit of pairing him up with his best friend Kouji seemed to indicate that he at least unconsciously realized this, and yet he continued to let her steamroll over him.

While reading this, I found myself thinking of Wotakoi, a series that handles similar topics but usually in a better way (I'm not arguing it's perfect - it definitely has its own issues). Narumi and Hanako also occasionally squeal over fantasies of their boyfriends in BL situations, but their boyfriends tend to play along a bit (Kabakura with some embarrassment but still relatively willingly, and Nifuji willingly and with zero embarrassment), turning it into a form of roleplay. Also, these fantasies aren't the sole basis of their relationships with their boyfriends. The same doesn't really apply to Yuiko and Taiga.

At any rate, this series is actively unpleasant, and I'm glad I only own the first couple volumes. I don't plan to continue on from here.


Two full-color pages, an excerpt from Taiga's BL fanfic in three different styles (normal, literary, and text message), a couple more pages of Yuiko's fujoshi glossary, an afterword essay by Pentabu, and a short extra in which Taiga protested to Yuiko that he and Kouji really are friends and not whatever fujoshi fantasy Yuiko pictured them as.

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