A Manga by Hiroshi Aro
When we last left this weird gender-bending comic from the early 90’s, it was still somewhat staying within the wheelhouse of being a vague Ranma 1/2 copycat to a large degree. It is in volume two when this goes further into being a raunchy comedy manga and somewhat paves it’s own path. As I stated in my previous review, this author is somewhat known for taking his inspiration from manga legend Rumiko Takahashi and “running with it” based on the vague premise. I would never say he’s a total ripoff artist, but you can definitely see who he’s inspired by. I’m sure that there were tons of other comics in this era in the same vein, this just happened to be translated into English (to capitalize on Ranma’s popularity I’m sure) when others were not.
Note: To avoid confusion, I will be referring to most of the characters as “they” because they swap genders far too often to make sentences that make sense otherwise.
““Futaba-kun Change!” is a comedy comic which features a young man who inherits an unknown gene that enables him to turn into a sexy and cute young lady. While Futana the older sister of Futba is fooling around with men, Futaba was with Misaki buying women’s underwear…While life for Futaba seems serene, because of her appearance and athletic ability, Futaba is now caught up in a tournament that will decide who will recruit him to enter the school club. In volume two, Futaba rocks the whole university!”
We see more of Futaba’s sibling Futana, and how they use their shape-shifting ability for less than stellar reasons – playing both sides in sexual escapades to a weird degree that almost seems predatory. In one instance, they become female to seduce a guy that is hitting on a girl they are interested in, “they do the deed”, then they become male and beat the guy up pretending to be their own significant other. There’s a lot of stuff in old Japanese comics that was apparently hilarious “back in the day” that would cause an online lynch mob today, Futaba’s sister/brother Futana would be one such character I’m sure.
We get to see some of the more ridiculous plots that this series has to offer in this book – honestly if it was less “zany” this could have been a classic, but it goes for gags to often. Not only do we find out that Futaba’s Father is actually a dual identity as well, and moonlights as a famous actress when not doing typical business man stuff. This section plays out like an action movie and involves things like cyborgs which is pretty silly considering how “normal” this book has been despite the gender trope. As this book goes on, stuff like this is always my stumbling block that keeps me from loving the plot. It’s good, builds a solid story then BOOM crazy martial arts tournament or Die Hard parody.
This is still a generally decent read considering I bought eight full volumes of this for less than 16 dollars. Volume one was definitely better than this volume, so here’s hoping the writer reigns the plot back in a bit after this tournament storyline. The more goofy aspect of this series is not my favorite, but I still enjoy reading it and will continue on. I’m not adverse to comedy, it justv seems like this switches back and forth too often, like it’s not sure what kind of book it wants to be. For a book accused of being “a ripoff” this actually has enough heart to let it stand on it’s own, and I’m honestly surprised this was never made into an anime in the early 90’s, it seems like folks would have gone crazy for it. Stay tuned for more!