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Emotional Manga Hides Behind Colorful Cover Art

Emotional Manga Hides Behind Colorful Cover Art

-Written by: Right Stuf

Every quarter we are running a Manga Review Contest where you can submit a review from a selected list of manga. If you want to participate or learn more, click the link. Today we are highlighting two manga reviews that we liked and they both happened to be about the same manga, Boy Meets Maria.

This review is by Jose.

During our life, we will always have dreams we want to follow but there are obstacles we need to surpass. But with every obstacle in our journey called life, there’s always a lesson to be learned. If there’s anything this manga excels at, it’s certainly going beyond the expectations of its genres. This manga explores a lot of situations that could happen to any of us in real life and that makes the story more intriguing to the reader. The art has this kinetically powered crunch to it – it’s radiant and coveys so much motion.

Taiga Hirasawa has always longed to be a hero like in the movies, but he has never known who would play the heroine's role. On his first day of high school, he sets eyes on "Maria," the star of the drama club. Graceful, with an air of ambivalence, Maria is the apple of everyone's eyes. Taiga is quick to confess, only to find out that Maria's real name is Yuu Arima, a very much male classmate.

The main characters Arima and Taiga had decent character developments. Each one needs to surpass a problem and learn about each other and life to make their decision. This manga illustrates well every piece that is important to the story even with metaphors. You won’t get lost or confused at any point in the story since they always explain the situation fast.

This is the manga that while reading I’ve cried the most, it is truly amazing how this manga blossoms into something so out of control to a calm and deserved ending. The way that I began reading this knowing nothing and just laughing at the embarrassment I would get from Taiga's interactions to sobbing at them just a few chapters later is what really made this book, not just a storyline but an experience.

This review is by MT.

This review will be spoiler-free, but I feel that I have to put a trigger warning for child sexual assault at the top. It takes place in just four pages, but there’s no getting around how upsetting it is. If I’d known that this work featured this, I may not have purchased it, and I wouldn’t blame anyone else for giving this one a miss because of it. However, I’m glad I did pick this volume up because it is rather special.

Boy Meets Maria concerns the titular boy, Taiga, and the other main character, Maria/Arima. Both are first years in high school and involved in the school’s drama club. Taiga, however, has no talent for acting, even though he tells everyone that he’s going to be the biggest actor in Japan. He comes to rely on Maria/Arima who reluctantly coaches Taiga on his acting, and the two form an unlikely friendship in spite of Taiga constantly trying to proclaim his love for Maria/Arima.

Boy Meets Maria manages to balance a tricky mix of humor, romance, and childhood trauma into a compelling story. I found Taiga a bit difficult to relate to — he’s got an inflated sense of self, melodramatic, and excessive. But teenagers can definitely be this way (especially theater kids). Maria/Arima is more of a mystery and I feel that much of that mystery is unresolved, but not in an unsatisfying way. In the end, this felt like an enjoyable character study of two very different people who are drawn to each other.

This mangaka died suddenly in 2020 and that makes reading this work extra poignant. In these beautifully drawn pages, you can see the potential that will go unrealized.

Check back every month for our manga review contest page as we will be adding new manga to the list! Don't forget to submit your reviews for a chance to win a $75 gift card like MT and Jose did!

Boy Meets Maria Manga

Boy Meets Maria Manga features story and art by Peyo.

Taiga dreams of becoming an actor, so the first thing he does upon entering high school is join the drama club. There, he meets the beautiful, enigmatic Maria and immediately falls in love with her. Not long after, Taiga is told that she is actually a boy—but is that all there is to Maria’s story? The late PEYO debuted with this beautifully illustrated, single-volume tale exploring the nature of personal expression and the fluidity of the power of love.

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