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Penguin Revolution vol. 1 by Sakura Tsukuba

June 4, 2007

penguin1While daydreaming at school one day, Yukari Fujimaru bumps into a girl and notices the girl has a pair of wings. No one else can see them, but over the years, Yuka has started to think of wings as a sign of star quality. People who have what it takes to be famous have wings, and the larger the wings, the more of “it” they have.

Ryoko Katsuragi is the prettiest girl in school, the one that Yuka bumped into. Except Ryoko isn’t really a girl, but a boy named Ryo Katsuragi who is forced to masquerade as a girl because of the dictates of his management company. The company, the Peacock Talent Agency, is the top agency in Japan, and they have a rule that everyone they manage must hide their true identity. If anyone discovers that Ryoko is actually a boy, Peacock will drop him. So when Yuka accidentally walks in on Ryo changing and Ryo discovers that Yuka’s father has basically abandoned her, Ryo decides that the solution to both these problems is to make Yuka his manager. The president of the management company agrees, as long as Yuka can successfully pretend to be a boy. The president doesn’t think she can do it and tests Yuka by throwing her and Ryo into situations that he is sure Yuka will either fail or expose her as a girl. In the meantime, Yuka will be living (pretending to be a boy) with Ryo and his roommate, Peacock Agency’s number one star, Ayaori.

This manga does require some suspension of disbelief. Apparently, Yuka has never noticed that there are two kids at school with wings until the story starts. And this is the first gender-bender manga I’ve read, so I have no idea what it’s like in other books, but Yuka discovers Ryo’s secret in the changing room, which makes me wonder if Ryo and all of those other guys pretending to be girls dress in a bathroom stall during P.E. But if you’re willing to go along with it, Penguin Revolution is an entertaining romp. Yuka and Ryo both face challenges, but they take them on so positively and are so good-hearted that I couldn’t help but root for them. With his aspirations of stardom and being forced to pretend to be a girl, you might expect Ryo to act like a jerk, yet somehow he’s still a nice guy. And the friendship that develops between Ryo and Yuka is sweet, and so far platonic.

CMX rates this manga for T for teens.

And the class president. Doesn’t he totally look like Jake Shimabukuro? Especially this picture?

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