“Tamaki Mishina was leaving. She was trying to escape the small village where she was disliked for reasons she couldn’t control. Her father, who was her only connection to the town, had recently passed away. This is why she decided to apply to a high school in Tokyo. However, she was kicked out of her boardinghouse and ended up staying in Mr. Playboy Punk Rocker’s apartment because she had nowhere else to go. Unfortunately, Rou keeps trying to evict her because he doesn’t think she fully comprehends what it means to live with a man.”
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Many romance manga push boundaries and may include controversial events that would not be socially acceptable. Finding a balance between fantasy and realistic portrayals of relationships and societal norms can lead to varying outcomes. There is a constant worry that the focus on these details may overshadow the romance itself. This concern is evident in Mitsubachi Miyuki’s “Stray Cat & Wolf,” which portrays a dependent relationship with a slight age gap, where one partner is underage for a romantic relationship.
The idea of relying on someone for housing and using that to advantage, as well as the repercussions of starting a relationship with an underaged girl (even if it is just a few years), does put the manga at a disadvantage. However, the writing of Mitsubachi Miyuki is thoughtful around the scenario and manages to craft an engaging love story where the participants are aware of the problems and potential misconceptions others would see in their relationship.
Mitsubachi Miyuki’s main approach to bridging this gap is through creating well-rounded characters. Tamaki Mishina may come across as sheltered and insecure due to her limited life experiences, but she is not unintelligent or easily manipulated. In contrast, punk rocker Rou is used to women constantly falling for him, but Tamaki’s mysterious nature challenges him to reevaluate his beliefs and actions. Despite facing challenges, the two characters grow together in a sincere manner that endears them to the reader and immerses them in their evolving relationship. Ultimately, any power dynamics based on age or status become inconsequential as the reader becomes enamored with both Tamaki and Rou.
Visually, Mitsubachi Miyuki shows command over the romance genre, knowing how to capture the beauty of the characters with an emphasis on these romanticized elongated forms. The visuals are sleek, and the characters convey emotions clearly. In addition, Miyuki imbues a lot of energy into the music scenes, making it apparent why Rou is such a romanticized character, with the spotlight shining on the lead singer and the synergy between him and his bandmates.
Mitsubachi Miyuki is undoubtedly a skilled storyteller of shoujo, having also authored “Cheeky Brat.” “Stray Cat & Wolf” is sure to delight fans of the genre. With guilt-free escapism and strong impact, this series is a must-have for those who enjoy romance. It is a great addition to any shoujo collection.