Ep. 97: The Untouchable Midori-Kun Vol 1 & 2, by Toyo Toyota

So close and yet so far, the gorgeous idol singer Midori-kun lives next door to our hero, Melon-chan. But Melon is an adult video actress, and if Midori and Melon are seen together it could be disastrous for Midori’s career! As the two grow closer, will Midori-kun remain… Untouchable? Deb leads the Mangang through a surprisingly fluffy and sex positive(!) romantic comedy this week on the podcast, in an episode that EVERYONE can enjoy… Except perhaps Chip!?

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00:01 The Untouchable Midori-Kun
46:00 We choose new books!
55:00 Shout-outs

The Untouchable Midori-Kun Volumes 1 & 2
By Toyo Toyota

Translation: Joshua Hardy / Local Manga
Lettering: Dietrich Premier / Local Manga
Published by Kodansha (Digital Only)

Audio Editing by David Brothers. Show notes by Christopher Woodrow-Butcher & Deb Aoki

Before We Get Started:
Despite being a “Ladies Comic” not unlike the very spicy Yakuza Lover, and having a main character who is an adult video actress, this is a pretty PG episode and actually a pretty tame manga, too!

Also as of writing, there are now four volumes of The Untouchable Midori-Kun available, and the fourth ALSO isn’t the last one.

Finally, it’s me (Christopher) flying solo this week as Deb is in San Diego, announcing our new MSX: Mangasplaining Extra titles! Also 10 million other things.

1:00 Deb starts off this episode by reading the description of the book according to Kodansha:

Talk about meet-cutes… Misaki doesn’t recognize her cute new neighbor when he comes to formally introduce herself…until he reminds her that they went to school together for years! But Midori Tachibana is no longer the awkward kid she remembers—he’s the leader of Japan’s hottest new idol group! But their fated meeting is cut short when he finds out she’s an adult film actress…and he can’t be seen with her if he’s to preserve his squeaky-clean idol image! But can the chemistry between them be so easily erased? A sex-positive, sweet idol rom-com for fans of Tokyo Tarareba Girls and Ex-Enthusiasts!


1:42 So there’s some confusion here because none of us really knew what Ex-Enthusiasts was? It seemed like a weird left-field thing when Deb said it, but when you see it written down it makes a lot more sense. So yeah, the title is Ex-Enthusiasts: MotoKare Mania though we don’t talk about it too much past the opening, here’s the covers:

David’s right, the covers are really neat (and not too dissimilar to Midori-kun). It’s a bout a woman who can’t get over her ex- from five years ago. Sounds fun!

3:22 The roses! This is why Deb originally mentioned this book on the podcast, but we didn’t get into it very much before. Back during our episode on Mika Yamamori’s In The Clear Moonlit Dusk, Deb brought up the flowers that float behind characters in shojo manga, and how this title, Untouchable Midori-Kun, made those flowers sentient characters! Er, at least in the bonus chapters. Here’s a few pages that we ran on the blog previously:

3:55 The caricatures that Toyota uses for Melon-chan are great, and add an amazing aspect of comedy to this series that sets it apart.

6:50 Yeah, the sequence with the inset-panel revealing that even his dog knew that Midori had a crush on Melon made me laugh-out-loud.

10:05 Chip brings up “The Wolf Imagery”, where horny Melon-chan is portrayed as The Big Bad Wolf to Midori’s innocent Little Red Riding hood, inverting the trope and making for a fun moment.

10:39 The hilarious fourth-wall breaking panel where Melon-chan starts to ask if her work had an… effect on Midori-kun, and he’s so scandalized he blocks the word-balloons. Smart cartooning!

10:50 Chip mentions the concert scenes as being… adquate. Handling a large crowd of people is tough, but the sense of the concert was definitely conveyed.

11:20 I wonder if Chip is the first person to notice that the way these dudes are drawn has a… phallic… quality? Surely someone must have written about this before. Long necks, bulbous heads…?

13:17 So yeah, there’s one tonal misstep, in our collective opinions, that appears towards the end of the second volume. Melon-chan is portrayed as a pretty self-actualized woman who’s made a lot of difficult choices and stand behind them. She’s proud of her work in the A/V industry, and it’s definitely a job to her. So this scene at the end of the second volume comes out of nowhere, and it quickly forgotten, thankfully, and when it is engaged with in the third volume, has a bit of a different vibe to it.

Like Chip said, there’s no hint of this before this scene, and it feels off.

14:55 Is Rabbit Hole a boy band? Doesn’t look like it. Thankfully.

15:30 Deb mentions the two Netflix Korean Boy Band Reality Television series’ Boys Planet and Peak Time. The former is about 100 contestants trying to form the next boy band. The latter, about folks who had boy bands and failed, and are trying to come back around for another shot. If this is the kind of thing you’re into, they both sound pretty compelling.

17:50 Haha, the true power of the older K-Pop fans: credit cards! This sequence where Melon-chan goes to the store to learn all about Midori-kun’s work was pretty funny… and then we found out from Deb it was also very True To Life!

18:30 “Cows Eat Grass Manga” I’m worried this is going to become a thing, because this phrase, like “Bachelor Chow” which pops up later on in this episode, are both a little more derisive-sounding than intended. But yeah, if you’re, lets say a ‘voracious’ manga reader, this is the kind of series you’re gonna feel pretty good about.

20:30 Here we talk about Yakuza Lover and “Ladies Manga”, and their popularity in Japan (where Christopher is situated during the recording of this episode). As mentioned we covered Yakuza Lover by Nozomi Mino back in Episode 19(!) and that was our first look at contemporary Ladies’ Comics.

We didn’t split the hairs at the time, so to speak, but “Ladies Comics” (actually called that in Japanese, for the most part) differ from our conception as Western manga fans of josei manga (translating as Women’s Comics)… Even though MAYBE josei doesn’t exist as a category any more in Japan? Like, they’re actually using the katakana for “Ladies Comics” for a lot of these works, レディースコミック. Almost like how manga isn’t really used any more, but the katakana for Comics is, instead.

[DEB:] I’ve heard it called “TL” or “Teen Love” manga lately…

Anyway, here’s the most recent two cover images for Shogakukan’s “josei manga/ladies comics” anthology FLOWERS versus “young ladies” magazine CHEESE, also by Shogakukan (where Yakuza Lover runs), versus Shodensha’s standard-bearer of josei manga, FEEL YOUNG. Similarities, differences, what do you think?

For more info, the josei manga page on Wikipedia is actually really well-written and up-to-date, and I found it informative. Shout out to Aki for bringing this to my attention alllll the way back after episode 19.

And if you want a fourth recommendation that’s even more different, check out LEED Publishing’s “Torch” Web Magazine for manga, which blurs every sort of audience line but has a ton of work by and for older women, as well as older men.

23:30 Front page tabloid news, one should say. Though when a story is big-enough, it does eventually make its way out of the entertainment news and onto the front pages of real newspapers too. For example, here’s a story about an anime voice actress who just happened to date guys publicly, and talk about what kind of guys she likes, and her fans lost their minds and threatened to kill her.


And this isn’t even tip of the iceberg. So many ‘drama’ sites love to gossip about voice actors’ personal lives, but at the end of the day, like much entertainment reporting, it’s predicated on treating them like product and not like people, and it’s pretty disgusting. Google will find more for you.

26:41 It’s time for Milk! Yes, that’s right, Melon-chan’s ‘rival’ A/V performer is introduced, a younger women named MILK, and it’s a whole… thing… As Chip mentioned she’s portrayed as super intense and weird, but just about her boy band crushes (whew!) but I can say things get odd in volume 3. I find her story really anxiety-inducing in a good way, and I wonder how that’ll go.

28:45 Speaking of good sequences, the bit where Midori-kun earnestly studies Melon-chan’s adult video work and then gives her lots of pointers about acting and performing is good, and I kinda wanted more of that.

Deb also mentions how the roses are turn black in the background during the porno-watching sequences, and that’s pretty fun.

30:27 Yeah Milk’s a great character, and I appreciated how, through Milk’s love for Sora and listing his many, many faults, the writer and reader get a little bit of revenge on him after he was super-mean to Melon. It was a well-done bit of fan-service (the traditional meaning).

31:54 Shout-out to David for the first use of “Confuddled” on the podcast.

32:30 We’re talking about the ’80s dramedy Moonlighting, which we did before.

34:10 Here’s that link to the late Kim Thompson’s “A Modest Proposal: More Crap Is What We Need.” Like I said, the idea is there, and in the 20 years since this was written we’re starting to get more of that accessible middle-ground, it’s maybe the exactly role that manga was always meant to fill? I just wish that more of the titles that were breaking through were aimed a little older.

Also: Bad Roger Ebert reference on Christopher’s part, he only had a thumbs up/down thing going. Shoulda been Variety with a 3-and-a-half stars rating.

36:20 Oh, Bachelor Chow. One of the enduring inventions of Futurama.

Huh, I don’t think I knew that Babish did a recipe for real-life Bachelor Chow. And like, a half-dozen other Youtubers did too. Looks like I’ve got something to watch later. But the animation is inset into the beginning. 🙂

37:10 Christopher mentions the distinctly middle class life of Monsieur Jean, the series of albums by Phillipe Dupuy and Charles Berberian. Again, I don’t mean to do these sort of works an injustice, they might best be described as contemporary fiction, alongside maybe Michel Rabagliati’s Paul books, or maybe like an autobiographical slice-of-life comic of a fictional character. Kind of Apple-TV-ish? Anyway, all of these books are out of print in English, but you should be able to find them without too great of an expense.

Like, that’s a legitimately gorgeously drawn page, right? The colors! The style! Good stuff. As I mentioned the books are out of print from Drawn & Quarterly, but it looks like Humanoids has scooped up the digital rights, and there are five albums available on their website.

40:10 The art here really is interesting, aside from the funny faces.

43:10 Deb ends this part of the episode with another shout out to one of her fav bits, the “Keroropi” story about Midori-kun buying something he though Melon would find special. And how it fell flat AND got him in trouble.

44:52: THE BREAK – After this point all timestamps are approximate!

46:00 That’s right, it’s time to pick new books!

David picks Blood Blockade Battlefront Vol. 1 by Yasuhiro Nightow. Published by Dark Horse.

Deb picks Nejishiki by Yoshiharu Tsuge. Published by Drawn & Quarterly.

Christopher picks Goodbye, Eri, by Tatsuki Fujimoto. Published by VIZ Media.

So that means the upcoming list of episodes looks a little something like this:

Ep. 98  My Life as a Villainess: All Paths Lead to Doom! vol 1 by Satoru Yamaguchi and Nami Hidaka (Seven Seas)
Ep. 99  Pluto vol. 1 by Naoki Urasawa, Takashi Nagasaki, based on a story by Osamu Tezuka (VIZ Media)
Ep. 100  Real vol. 13 by Takehiko Inoue (VIZ Media)
Ep. 101  Not All Girls Are Stupid by Minami Q-ta (Starfruit Books)
Ep. 102  What’s Michael? by Makoto Kobayashi (Dark Horse) + Garfield / Heathcliff
Ep. 103 Blood Blockade Battlefront by Yasuhiro Nightow (Dark Horse)
Ep. 104 Goodbye, Eri by Tatsuki Fujimoto (VIZ Media)
Ep. 105 Nejishiki by Yoshiharu Tsuge (D&Q)

We’ve got a big long landing strip ahead of us for the end of the season, and there’s definitely going to be a bonus episode in there somewhere too, tying into Mangasplaining Extra’s release of Okinawa. We’ve already recorded through episode 103, too! Lots more to come.

55:00: Now it’s time for Shout-Outs!

DAVID shouts-out The Simpsons. So we gotta go with Doctor Zaius

CHRISTOPHER shouts out Shin-Kamen Rider, which apparently got a limited English release? Hoping it shows up on streaming somewhere with subtitles.

[DEB:] As a matter of fact, you can now watch Shin Kamen Rider on Amazon Prime (where they call it “Shin Masked Rider” — but hey, if you’re gonna translate it, then why not “New Masked Rider,” HUH? (shrugs in Japanese)

Even without though, the movie closely follows the story of Ishinomori’s original manga, as dramatized in the live-action television series. So go give the manga a read and then settle in to watch it.

CHIP got to watch some movies on a plane, including Bros and TÁR. Movies watched on plane screens, how films were meant to be enjoyed.

DEB Shouts Out the BL manga Midnight Rain, by CTK and Published by SuBLime Manga. Beefy looking dudes in that one. Free preview (with login) at the Sublime website.

And that’s this week in Mangasplaining! This episode is also available wherever you get your podcasts, so please subscribe and leave a review, so others can discover our show!

Also, if you’d like to get the latest episode delivered straight to your inbox along with exclusive interviews, articles and new chapters of manga you can’t read anywhere else, subscribe to our Substack newsletter. See what you’re missing at Mangasplaining Extra!

Next week on Mangasplaining:
Get ready for My Life as a Villainess: All Paths Lead to Doom! vol 1 by Satoru Yamaguchi and Nami Hidaka, Published by Seven Seas.

My LIfe as a Villianess vol. 1

Thanks so much for listening! Please support your local comic and manga specialty shop when purchasing these books, and you can find one near you at comicshoplocator.com. You can also check your local library for print and digital lending options, they have TONS of manga! Finally, thanks to D.A.D.S. for their musical accompaniment for this episode.

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5 Responses

  1. Eric Henwood-Greer says:

    In regards to the whole josei/ladies comic, WTF, category thing. I’m not an expert, but I am good friends with someone who is (she is a member of the four woman group toshonoie who have put out by now well over a dozen beautiful books in Japan devoted to shojo history, etc. Check out their site https://www.toshonoie.net which shows all the releases they’ve done on their own or helped with. Just amazing amazing work–and a lot of it helping to save some important titles that would have been lost otherwise.

    Anyway, she (who prefers to not give her real name over the internet) actually got to visit me for a wonderful afternoon in Victoria as part of a Western Canada trip she was taking–after over 15 years of us corresponding (some of her tour group wanted to come to Victoria to check out Butchart Gardens so she took the ferry from Vancouver, spent a few hours talking and wandering around with me, and then took it back–and flew back to Japan the next morning. Not a relaxing trek…)

    Anyway, my friend said that specifically Ladies Comics now refer to titles that have a lot of erotic content (or are flat out pornographic) and that I shouldn’t use the term. However, starting in the late 70s shojo manga aimed at young adults WAS called Ladies Comic–that term didn’t mean “this is gonna likely be horny/explicit” until years later. But then she also said to keep in mind that she grew up reading shojo in the 1970s and that’s what she primarily works on now and that these terms do always change (the only magazine she makes sure not to miss is Flowers which makes sense as it’s sorta Shogakukan’s prestige older targeted magazine, where you can find most of the classic shojo mangaka who are still working–this can mean ones who were big in the 90s including Yumi Tamura whose current huge hit Don’t Call it Mystery, which I hope you cover one day, is running there, to even more classic mangaka like Moto Hagio who spent most of the last few decades publishing in Flowers and its precedent, Petit Flower and in fact, along with Keiko Takemiya, launched Petit Flower in 1980 for readers who had outgrown their previous main magazine, Shojo Comic, but before any term like josei was used. And of course right now Flowers is running Hagio’s wonderful return to Poe Clan.)

    But man do I digress. So she said Ladies Comic means something pretty specific. But she was also surprised that josei is so commonly used among Western fans (myself included.) As she says, and I’ve since read other things backing this up, it’s a term that can be used in the industry (when publishers are noting which demos their magazines appeal to) but is NOT commonly used among readers. For example she said the readers she knows who read Flowers and Feel Young (which happen to be far and away the best magazines aimed at that demo–Flowers with just amazing, well established mangaka doing some of their best work with virtually no editorial interference, and Feel Young often, even now, having a more edgy, but still pretty literary quality) will usually just casually call them shojo magazines, while it is clear that they are aimed primarily for young adults and older.

    So josei isn’t, from all I can gather, the female equivalent of seinen. And this gets even more complicated since so much current seinen does not fit the older Golgo 13 or ecchi association with that genre, but actively appeals to women and a lot of established shojo mangaka now work primarily in seinen.

    And I’m not sure all that clarified anything.

  2. Eric Henwood-Greer says:

    (I will add that that increased presence of female mangaka in seinen is probably one–one of multiple–reasons why so many BL, or at least “gay” focused titles have been increasingly present in seinen–Yoshinaga’s LOOONG running What Did You Eat Yesterday? being perhaps the most obvious example.)

    • Hey Eric: Thanks so much for this comment! I appreciate the insight from you and your researcher friend. I kind of wish there was more interest in this question on both sides of the Pacific, because I feel like there’s still further nuance around this question and this nebulously defined category.
      – Christopher

      • Eric Henwood-Greer says:

        Yeah, it’s a subject that fascinates me (maybe too much) so much so that when my friend was visiting and instantly called into question why I was calling things Josei–and it lead to our conversation, I was thrilled throughout to hear her view. Of course,, as she said herself, that’s just been her take on the terminology and there may be differences in opinion, but…

        Which I know to many people wouldn’t even matter, but I see a lot of English manga fans getting into big discussions about how important it is to call something josei and not shojo (etc, etc) that I think the term may be becoming… overused? At least if we’re claiming to be faithful to how they would be sold in Japan and not just making up terms for English manga sales (or we could just go the France route and call almost any shojo aimed at older readers, and even some that originally wasn’t, like Banana Fish, “seinen” 😛 But that’s another issue…)

        Anyway, I always always love how you bring up this discussion when its relevant, both on the podcast itself, and in the great notes you and Deb make (which I enjoy at least as much.)

  1. January 21, 2024

    […] Ep. 97: The Untouchable Midori-Kun Vol 1 & 2, by Toyo Toyota […]

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