June 26, 2008
Pretty Face, Vols. 1-6
By Yasahiro Kano
It's hard to describe Pretty Face. Masashi Rando was once a typical shonen (boys) manga hero. But the brash karate club leader suffered horrific burns in a bus crash and fell into a coma. He wakes a year later with everyone thinking he died, including his family. And the doctor who reconstructed his face worked from the photo in his pocket - a photo of his crush Rina.
When he stumbles into Rina, he's shocked to find she isn't surprised by her doppelganger. Her twin sister Yuna ran away two years ago to become a beautician and she thinks Rando is Yuna returned. Rando does not particularly like his new role, but if pretending to be Yuna makes Rina happy, he will do it. Now he just has to find the real Yuna so he can regain his identity.
There are the expected hijinks: Rando must keep his male identity secret despite the fact he's walking around in a miniskirt. But his failure to act like a nice, sweet girl creates the best comic moments. He understands the power of cuteness but just cannot resist using his feet and fists on jerks. There's also a great deal of fanservice and ecchi moments some readers might be uncomfortable with. I am just curious as to why the girls always manage to flash their panties when they kick someone but Rando manages to keep the family jewels covered despite the fact he beats people up multiple times a chapter. (Okay, he doesn't always manage, but he does more often than not.)
One main problem with the manga is the real Yuna. She leaves without a word and never writes or visits. But all evidence in the story shows that she cares deeply for her twin as well as the rest of the family. It doesn't really add up. However, it's that sisterly relationship that allows PRETTY FACE to work. Rando truly cares for Rina, and in his disguise he does his best to be a good older sister. He doesn't take advantage of the fact they live together. (He just beats anyone who looks at Rina the wrong way.)
I like gender bending comedy. I think PRETTY FACE does it well, with a good blend of violence and sweetness. I do not think people new to manga should start with this title. There are less absurd titles that might be a better place to start. (For girls, the reigning gender bender comedy is probably Hana Kimi.) For those who don't mind a crazy plot and a little fan service, PRETTY FACE is a pretty good title to relax with.
All six volumes are currently available from VIZ Media. Check out the official page. It's not a very popular series, so you might need to order it from your local bookstore. If you want to see if you'll like PRETTY FACE before buying, try One Manga.