Mysterious Girlfriend X, 1

illus. by Riichi Ueshiba. 404p. Vertical. Mar. 2016. pap. $15.95. ISBN 9781942993452.
Gr 7 Up—This first manga series installment is a fantastical foray into teenage sexuality with a dose of feminist superhero antics. Tsubaki is a typical teen boy: a sophomore in high school, he still hasn't had his first kiss. He obsesses about what his future girlfriend might be like and is immediately infatuated with Urabe, the mysterious new girl in school. Everyone notices something peculiar about Urabe: she laughs uncontrollably at inopportune times and can never stay awake in class. Tsubaki finds her asleep after class one day and wakes her so that she doesn't miss her bus home. After she leaves, he notices a puddle of drool on her desk. Overcome with curiosity, he decides to taste it. Then things really start to get weird. Urabe's drool holds a mysterious power that Tsubaki gradually becomes aware of over the course of the series. What happens next is part normal teenage romance, part mysterious surrealism. The series also touches on topics such as feminine power and consent, which makes it an excellent read for individuals of all ages but especially teens who are navigating their entry into the dating world. The artwork is beautifully executed in traditional manga style, complementing the plot.
VERDICT A fun read with complex story lines, realistic character development, and surreal elements that will appeal to teen and adult manga fans alike.

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