Manga Monday

Manga Monday #8: Horses Can Fall in Love, Too

Ah, love stories.  Everyone loves a good love story.  Even people who say they don’t like romance stories are secretly lying and actually really, really like romantic fiction.  What, it’s true.

Okay, I made that up.

Actually, if you’re one of those who isn’t really into romance as a genre of, well, anything, I think that you’d find some shounen romances to be a surprisingly good fit for you.

In the case of shounen-focused manga romance stories, a large chunk of them are comedy-based.  Some of them take that “romantic comedy” idea and bring it to new levels–the highest of hilarity levels, that is.  If you can only stand lovey-dovey stories when they are more funny than mushy, shounen romance has a lot to offer you.

Today, we’re going to chat about one of those very mangas, one that will surely have you laughing your head off.

Horses Can Fall in Love, Too

AFO Guard
アフォガード
Miki Maki
5 volumes (complete)

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At Saint AFO Guard Private Academy, the elite class of young men being educated there are forbidden from getting involved with the female students.  Thus, not only are the girls and boys educated in totally separate school buildings, but there’s an even stranger rule fabricated in order to further discourage involvement between the sexes:  The female students are required to wear masks.

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Aizawa Katori is one such female student.  Among the wide variety of masks chosen by the female student body, Katori has chosen to wear a horse-head mask.  As expected, even with just a year of mask-wearing-gender-separation, the girls at AFO Guard have completely forgotten how to interact with the opposite sex.  And it’s beyond funny.

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Still, all any girl wants is to fall in love, and this masked young girls aren’t any different.  Katori hasn’t given up on getting through her equestrian appearance to her long-ago childhood friend and crush, Shinra, who attends AFO Guard in the male class.

Shinra, who moved to Tokyo when they were young, is unaware that his childhood love is attending school with him.  All he really knows is that a horse talked to him.

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I didn’t expect much going into reading AFO Guard.  With the basic synopsis, I was expecting something funny but without a real driving plot or character arc involved.  You know, like the monster-of-the-week trope, but instead it would be episodes of Katori trying to reveal her feelings to Shinra, and Shinra trying to put his finger on why she seemed familiar–or something like.

You can imagine my surprise when I found a manga that was not just full of hilarious moments, but made up of a wide array of characters in this very weird situation that has left them all, well, rather weird as a side effect.  The weirdness is easily embraced as a reader, though, and that’s what makes AFO Guard such a fun read–you can hop right into their crazy love story, horse masks and all.

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There’s no real deep overarching message, but AFO Guard uses an incredibly odd premise in what feels to be a very natural story progression.  The character developments are not just fun but feel realistic.  Like when the girls run into boys from their school in public–the feeling of nakedness without their masks, it’s funny but also accurate.  How do you learn to interact with the opposite sex if you’re used to doing it behind a mask?

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AFO Guard‘s romantic developments are amusing because it takes typical romantic cliches and turns them on their head.  These standard teenage girl thoughts and situations are happening in a nonstandard grouping of teenagers.  In AFO Guard, teenage drama is more complicated than usual, with some dang funny implications.

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Really, I wish I could share with you everything that has made me laugh in AFO Guard, but each chapter is so fully of funnies I would probably break something with the amount of photos I’d try to squeeze into this post.  (As you can tell, I may have already gone over the quota at this point.)

AFO Guard is funny, has a solid storyline, a strong cast of characters, and doesn’t putter around a repeating humor trope.  It’s everything that makes shounen romantic comedies so great!  And I swear, Square Enix (who also publish Father and Son) is the boss of this genre, they put out some great manga comedies.

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AFO Guard  is currently being scanlated by Cafe Scanlations.

Do you have have any funny romantic mangas to suggest?

 

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