Oh! My Brother, Vol. 1 – Manga Review

Review by: Faith McAdams

Publisher: CMX Manga
Author: Ken Saito
Genre: Graphic Novel
MSRP: $9.99 US
Rating: T+ (Teen Plus)
Release Date: Now available

Oh! Brother There You Are.

If you think life is crazy enough just try stepping into Masago Kamoguchi’s shoes. She’s cute enough girl but, let’s face it, she just doesn’t hold a candle to her more popular and attractive brother who is something of a young genius. Then, under tragic circumstances, Masago’s life changes in the most unusual way in Volume 1 of Oh! My Brother … an agreeable and likeable manga series.

It seems that everyone loves Shiro Kamoguchi who really is quite charismatic, intelligent and genuinely funny to the point that he’s the kind of boy who would walk around school wearing his younger sister’s Junior High school girl uniform just for a laugh. He loves his sister to the point that everyone who knows would say he has a sister complex. He’s also on the student council and is overseeing this year’s culture festival and the construction of a symbol that will represent the student’s dreams for the future. It’s no wonder that Masago is seen simply as just “Shiro’s kid sister” by everyone around her.

Fortunately for Masago, the only one who calls her by her name is Shiro’s best friend and Masago’s crush, Yasaka Kurouma. Despite the fact that her brother doesn’t want him near her brother, Shiro is grateful that Kurouma steps in to defend his sister against a former friend-turned-bully named Kuga who confronts Masago one day. Then tragedy strikes when Masago crosses the street and is about to get killed by a speeding truck when Shiro jumps in the way and pushes his sister out of harms way.

During the funeral service, however, as Kurouma is comforting the distraught Masago, the windows break by themselves. It is in that moment that Masago’s life changes. You see, she confesses days later to Kurouma that she is sharing her body with her brother who she can hear in her mind and who – quite easily -takes over her body. Kurouma actually believes her seeing as when Shiro takes over it’s like talking to the guy who is still very overprotective of his young sister.

Thinking that maybe Shiro is hanging around to complete some unfinished business, Masago figures that it might be that Shiro wants the student council to make the culture festival and the symbol they’re creating a success. Since everyone is still mourning the loss of her brother, Masago finds it easy to join the council. The problem is that Shiro’s once good friend Kuga is starting trouble and might just be the one behind a despicable act of vandalism.

Meanwhile, Shiro takes over to confront his former friend who remembers an incident in their past when they were friendly soccer rivals. Masago comes to learn that Kuga doesn’t treat her badly and – in his own way – misses her brother. In another instance, Shiro is determined to find a time capsule that might contain some embarrassing things about him. As brother and sister work together, their bond becomes even stronger.

While the story can be actually touching and fun, it’s the characters that make the Masago/Shiro element not seem too gimmicky both rather actually kind of charming. Speaking of charming, Shiro is a considerably likeable character and I personally felt his death came a little too soon. Still, the meaningful way Masago finally connects with her brother in a very emotional way is endearing.

There’s a bonus story unrelated to the main story or its characters called The Magic of Kirishima-Tei that involves a boy who is actually quite extraordinary and the girl who is slowly coming to like him. It’s a rather short story that lacks in all the things that Oh! My Brother contains … which is mainly feeling. It’s also a bit of an unusual addition seeing as this volume also includes a bonus Oh! My Brother chapter at the end.

It’s quite easy to fall under the spell that Volume 1 of Oh! My Brother weaves and the reason is that it’s a nicely written, drawn and executed manga. There’s something uniquely engaging about a story of a girl who becomes even more closer to the brother she lost as they share the same body. If you can look past a few of its issues, this series promises to be a series worth following.

MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN

STORY: B+
Masago Kamoguchi has always been overshadowed by her cute and popular brother, Shiro, until he dies saving her life. Interestingly enough, her brother never really left her and now she shares her body with her brother. Joining the student council during the upcoming festival, Masago/Shiro must deal with another school’s bully and Masago crush on Shiro’s best friend.

ART: B-
We’ve seen art like this in other shoujo manga and that’s fine seeing as Ken Saito’s art is actually very pleasing to the eye.

OVERALL: B+
Oh! My Brother is a promising series that is actually an appealing and different kind of romance-comedy with a fun twist. Yes, it’s not quite perfect but in the areas that are lacking there are good points that manage to shine through. In other words, you’ll enjoy this one if you can overlook its very few flaws.

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