Here you will find honest, intelligent manga reviews for shojo fans of all ages.

Mar 17, 2010

Cactus's Secret Vol. 1 - Nana Haruta

Synopsis: First year Miku Yamada has harbored a crush on classmate Kyohei Fujioka since middle school. After working hard for two years to remake her plain image, she scrounges enough courage to confess her feelings to the boy. Kyohei happens to be the oblivious type, and Miku's attempts to confess are misinterpretted by Kyohei time and again. Frustrated, Miku despairs if she'll ever get through to Kyohei. Although Kyohei eventually gets the message, he doesn't know how he really feels. In the meantime, it looks as if another classmate has his eye on Miku.

Review: I don't remember where I read the premise for this story, but I had it in my head that I was going to be seeing some magical, fantasy elements in this story. I thought that it was "Cactus's Secret" because the girl accidentally turned into a cactus a la "Fruits Basket" style. Don't ask where I got that idea, because that's obviously not the premise of this manga after reading it. It's called "Cactus's Secret" because the main protagonist Miku has a prickly personality and is harboring a secret love for her classmate Kyohei. Despite my misconceptions, I found Haruta's story to be entertaining, especially for a younger crowd.

There's nothing that makes this series stand out from other shojo mangas, and that makes it somewhat formulaic and clichéd. Girl likes boy, boy is oblivious, the two characters clash emotions, and to add more conflict, another love interest is introduced. The character designs seem cookie-cutter style cute girl and boy. No personality developments set them apart from other shojo protagonists.

That being said, I can see tween and teen girls really loving this series. The frustrations of the main protagonist Miku can easily be related to. Kyohei is a typical oblivious teen boy, and watching Miku try to get her message across to him shows her courage and determination. She never gives up, even when so many things are misunderstood, and she eventually gets an answer when Kyohei tells her he's not sure how he feels. The first volume ends with the introduction of a rival for Kyohei and a new love interest for Miku.

The art is decent with nice line drawings and toning. I found the paneling to be confusing in places when I couldn't tell if Miku was having a flashback or if it was actually happening in the present. Other readers may not have a problem. Overall the designs are attractive and fitting for the story.

I can recommend this series for a younger crowd, but I myself found it to be a forgettable read. Enjoy it for the moment and let it entertain you, but don't expect anything deep. It will make a great escape when you just want fluff.

Romance Rating: Cuddly.

Media Status: Cactus's Secret volume 1 is available from Viz Media. Volume 2 will be released in June 2010.


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