Shuzo Oshimi is probably one of the contemporary manga creators who have tried to infuse relatively unique colorful tones and unusual setup in common situations, which can be seen in most of Oshimi’s creations. One of which is his narrative styles that usually highlight weak, clumsy, and fragile yet angsty boy and girl characterization. He also presents uncommon and disconcerting  situations that, more often than not, leave the readers feeling drifted.

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Shuzo Oshimi

Oshimi also likes to present themes such as coming-of-age and perversion, including his experiences from his younger days. Furthermore, his stance of presenting sexual awakening and perversion in most of his work is concrete, as he believes that perversion is a characteristic that every person possesses which is surrounded by stigma—which he wants people, including his readers, to ponder about.

Additionally, Oshimi wants to explore and exercise more his way of presenting his characters’ perspectives through his manga Boku Wa Mari No Naka (Inside Mari) where the female perspective is predominant and of course, to stress that for him girls are “half of the world”.

THE STORY

Boku Wa Mari No Naka was created in 2012,  the year where Oshimi was writing it simultaneously with late-stage Aku no Hana. The plot primarily contained psychosexual gender bender twists, leaning to realism more than symbolism. The first few volumes of the manga presented the story initially in a supernatural phenomenon of switching bodies, perhaps to establish curiosity and intrigue among the readers, but in the later stage of the story, the author managed to unite the idea from one point to another.

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Similar to his previous work Aku no Hana, Boku Wa Mari No Naka follows a story of a subservient and good-for-nothing hikikomori, Komori Isao, the main protagonist. Komori discovers himself magically transferred into the body of a school-girl he stalks to, Mari. She’s been going to the same convenience store to buy chocolates and pops every night at 9 PM, and Komori keeps seeing her. Mari’s angelic beauty mesmerizes him deeply and when he stalks her back, he finds himself in her consciousness the following day.

However, Mari-Isao also discovers that Mari did not transfer into Isao’s body, but went all gone. The original hikikomori, Isao Komori (who is completely unaware of the existence of his new counterpart) met Mari through sudden confrontations: in the convenience store and in Komori’s apartment.

Mari’s classmate, Yuki, is the first to notice and discover Mari’s ordeal. Yuki belongs in the lowest social tier, while Mari hails as the leader of the top group in their class. Yuki helped Mari-Isao find real Mari by allowing Mari-Isao navigate real Mari’s past relationships while maintaining her social ties.

THE REVIEW

Drawings

Oshimi is probably one of the most commendable manga artists of today. The sudden shift of his drawing style depending on the characters’ emotion/mood is surprisingly remarkable. Although there were lapses in uniting one point of the story to another, Oshimi’s way of delivering the story through his drawings managed to keep the manga in one piece. The amount of time and effort given in the creation of this manga surely emanated in each panel, hence making this manga a great creation despite the flaws in the storyline.

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Story

Oshimi was probably trying to explore his talent as a storyteller by creating a manga with a ‘female perspective’. This because most of his characters in this manga are females more than males, allowing him to spend more time presenting more realistic situations about how women truly interact and deal with their everyday life’s troubles. The parts where these situations were delivered were so real that, as a reader, I wondered how Oshimi managed to include these parts in the manga so flawlessly, at some point. Although his representations were graphic in some degree, however, the story itself made these scenes valid and essential–leaving these parts out of the manga would make the story dull and pointless.

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The transition of the ordeal (initially masked as a supernatural phenomenon  which then led to the revelation of the character’s psychological disorder) gradually progressed, however, there were some blurred points as well as parts that I deemed somewhat missing in the story.

This manga, if recreated as a live-action film, would perhaps and hopefully come out similar to 1999 film “Fight Club” (or probably surpass it even. Is Fight Club one of Oshimi’s film influences?) due to its mature scenes and content. 

SIDE NOTE

Comments from the readers basically littered forums with “some reasons” behind the story’s loose parts. Some say Oshimi ended the story that way as he didn’t know where to take it next. Also, somebody asked on his Twitter if he had any plans to continue and he said no.

Some readers also consider Boku Wa Mari No Naka as NTR (Or Netorare) — a fetish derived around the main characters primary love interest being stolen from them by someone else through sexual means. Often without them initially knowing until the very end.

MY TAKE

I give Boku Wa Mari No Naka a 7 out of 10. I only recommend this manga to those MATURE readers.

Additional sources:

Oshimi, The Flowers of Evil Vol. 3, p. 172
Oshimi, The Flowers of Evil Vol. 1, p. 172
Oshimi, Shuzo. Inside Mari Volume 1. Crunchyroll. p. 194.
‘So I found this manga that got cancelled and ended with NTR’. GameFAQs. 2012

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