Primitive Boyfriend, Vol. 1

By Yoshineko Kitafuku. Released in Japan as “Genshijin Kareshi” by Hakusensha, serialized in the magazine LaLa. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Amanda Haley. Adapted by David Lumsdon.

The beauty of manga debuting in a magazine is that sometimes you can hide the gimmick in a way that you can’t necessarily when you’re coming out in volume format. When this debuted in LaLa (or more likely it debuted in LaLa DX and then shifted later) the opening color page had the heroine surrounded by all the hot high school boys we see at the start of the chapter, with the actual “boyfriend” a mere shadow in the background. As the plot goes on and you see Mito travel back in time via the blessings of a rather flighty goddess, the reader is probably conditioned to expect perhaps a caveman-ey but still human looking guy coming to her rescue, possibly looking like one of the boys we’d seen before (it’ll be the sullen brunet. It’s always the sullen brunet). And then we get the reveal and… her savior is Australopithicus Garhi, and he looks far more ape than man. But read this in volume format… and the whole thing is spoiled on the cover.

Mito is a farmer’s daughter with great skin, a bodacious bod, and any number of guys trying to be her boyfriend, of various types and varieties. She’s not interested in any of them, really, and feels they’re all far too soft and weak. Then, while farming and complaining about the lack of good men in her life, she meets Spica, goddess fo the Harvest, who suggests she cross space and time to find her man. Suddenly she’s in prehistoric times, being menaced by any number of predators. To her rescue comes the titular man, who she names “Garhi” after the species name. They bond and grow closer in a cute (and thankfully non-sexual) way, but suddenly, while being attacked, and with Garhi seemingly dead defending her, she’s back in her own time! Was it all a dream? Can she return to find Garhi?

There’s an obvious reach here: the reader has to accept that Mito, a modern Japanese girl, is falling hard for Garhi, who is, as she says herself, more ape than man. Their relationship is emotionally driven but also based very much on a constant crisis, and does not really have much time to jell. And there’s also that cliffhanger… As for modern times, I appreciated that the boyfriends all introduced around her all felt like they could be the star of a different shoujo manga… but not this one. Mito’s lack of interest in them is a constant draw, as is her dedication to not being anything other than herself (her friend tells her “you’re girling WRONG again!”). It made the title a lot more interesting than I expected, though I’m still grateful this will only be three volumes. I can’t see this as a long-runner.

There’s a longish short story at the end, as is often the way in shoujo manga, about a girl who’s been trying ballet for years but continues to be bad at it, and how her perseverance helps when she meets a much more talented performer. The afterword talks about how the editor told her to focus more on ballet and less on the cooking boyfriend, and the editor was absolutely correct. As for Mito… I’m ready for the next book.

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