Izumi, Kaneyoshi. Doubt!! volume 1 (2005). 192 Pages. Viz. $9.99
Ai Maekawa has always been plain, and studious– a Jimi— and has dreamed of being one of the pretty, popular girls. When a classmate embarrasses her, Ai decides that it’s time to make a change; it’s the last year of middle school, so when she starts high school, she will make a fresh start.
Ai intentionally picks a high school which has nobody she knows, and takes advantage of the time between middle- and high-school to transform herself. She diets, she uses zit cream, and does everything she thinks necessary to become a pretty girl; the popularity will follow, she is sure.
Because this is a manga, Ai is right; she immediately gains the interest of Sou Ichinose, one of the most handsome and popular freshmen, as well as his friend Yuchiro Kato*. Unfortunately, this also makes her a target for all the spiteful girls who have crushes on Yuchiro and So.
In This Volume
We meet our dramatis personae; Ai, Sou, Yuchiro, and Mina**. Mina and Ai get off on the wrong foot, but eventually come to an understanding. Ai has a stalker. There is a school festival, and Yumi appears to torment Ai. Finally, Chiharu arrives, and stirs things up even more.
Doubt!! is very much about self-discovery and self-creation. Ai is an interesting character, because she is clever, and uses this to her advantage. Of course, stories like this often end with characters realizing that what they want and what they need are two different things, or what they thought they wanted is not what they actually want, but I’m not sure which way this one will go (it’s been a long time since I read this manga.)
For all its apparent shallowness, Doubt!! promises to be a relatively thoughtful manga with a side of hijinks. It’s got good art (even if the characters do look like they’re crying in closeups) and a winning story.
It gets a 5/5.
* There are a lot of ways to “romanize” Japanese characters, I’ve chosen to spell these the way I am most familiar with, rather than adding the accent marks the translator chose.
** Mina is a ko-gal, which is one of those crazy Japanese trends which was super popular mid-90s and then began to decline. It involves over-tanned skin, light makeup around the eyes, and light lipstick with bleach-blond hair. (It is worth googling, if you are interested and unfamiliar with it.)