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Cactus's Secret Volume 1

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Cactus's Secret Vol. 1

Cactus's Secret Vol. 1

SABOTEN NO HIMITSU © 2003 by Nana Haruta/SHUEISHA Inc.

The Bottom Line

After years of admiring her classmate Kyohei from afar, Miku finally musters up the courage to confess her love. Unfortunately, the object of her affections is funny, cute, and too dense to figure out that she's trying to tell him she likes him. So what's a gal to do? Slap the guy upside the head, that's what.

Don't let its odd title throw you -- Cactus's Secret is pretty much your garden variety shojo manga comedy. It lacks crack-tastic romantic angst, but it's a nicely-drawn, light-hearted and likeable love story that will appeal to teen readers who just wanna have fun.

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Pros

  • Appealing artwork with lots of spunk and sparkle
  • Goofy romantic comedy set in a (relatively) realistic high school
  • Likeable characters who have relatable, albeit silly romantic chemistry
  • Thankfully, an interesting romantic rival appears to perhaps spice things up for next time

Cons

  • Kyohei is so dense, even *I* want to slug him sometimes
  • "Cactus alien?" Is that the best insult this guy could come up with?

Description

  • Original Title: Saboten no Himitsu (Japan)
  • Author & Artist: Nana Haruta
  • Publishers:
  • ISBN: 978-1421531892
  • Cover Price: $9.99 US / $12.99 CANADA / £ 6.99 UK
  • Age Rating: T – Teens, Age 13+ for mild violence, teen romance
    More about content ratings.
  • Manga Genres:
  • US Publication Date: March 2010
    Japan Publication Date: August 2008
  • Book Description: 192 pages, black and white illustrations

Guide Review - Cactus's Secret Volume 1

Miku Yamada has had a crush on her classmate Kyohei Fujioka since middle school. So after going on an all-out campaign to transform herself from plain to pretty, she attempts to confess her feelings to him. But to her dismay, Kyohei is cute but so, so dense. Somehow, he manages to deflect all of her attempts to tell him that she likes him. So what's a girl to do? Why, slug the guy to next Tuesday, that's what.

If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, then being from different planets might explain why Kyohei and Miku seem destined to misunderstand and bicker with each other. To Miku, it seems like she's being sooooo obvious that she likes Kyohei, it's almost excruciatingly embarrassing to have to spell it out for him.

Meanwhile, Kyohei has the teen boy equivalent of 'foot-in-mouth disease.' He somehow has the unique ability to say something insensitive that will leave Miku slack-jawed in disbelief. He's completely oblivious to the ways that his careless words hurt her feelings, and with a smile, no less! To add insult to injury, he calls her a 'cactus alien' because she's so prickly when she's seething mad at him. Will this unlikely couple ever find a way to overcome their communication gap, or is their love doomed to failure before it even starts?

Cactus's Secret has a pretty silly title and a pretty basic premise, but I have to admit that I was charmed by this shojo romantic comedy. What teenage girl hasn't wanted to pull out her hair because guys are... well, guys can say the dumbest things sometimes!? Most guys aren't as clue-deprived as Kyohei, but hey, it's mostly for laughs. Kyohei's obliviousness is exaggerated to the point where even *I* wanted to slap this guy upside the head.

Miku is a likeable gal simply because she's determined to get her guy to see things her way, no matter how discouraged she gets. Sure, she cries and gets angry, but she never wallows in self-pity for long. Miku's got too much pride and self-respect for that. That's a good thing, because shojo manga really doesn't need any more whine-y doormat heroines.

Miku and Kyohei's bicker-and-batter each other routine would get pretty boring pretty fast if not for Haruta dropping a few hints about Kyohei's juvenile delinquent past and the introduction of new love interest at the end of this first volume. They're not huge cliffhangers, but it hints that things just might get a little more interesting in coming chapters.

Haruta's artwork is done in garden-variety shojo manga style, with lots of busy screentones and flowers. It's not ground-breaking or innovative, but it's feminine and fun to read.

What you won't find in Cactus's Secret is much crack-tastic romance and drama. Frankly, it's a little forgettable if you prefer lots of relationship angst in your shojo manga. But after reading so many mean-spirited, cynical and fanservice-filled comedies, sometimes it's just nice to read a little light-hearted teen love story for a change.

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