Caterpillar Girl and Bad Texter Boy: What the Hell is This?

You know, I was expecting this manga to be some witty, zany romance considering the uhhh title and premise and instead I got a really dark romance with a theme about obsessive love.

Caterpillar Girl and Bad Texter Boy is a relatively recent published manga that I don’t think a lot of people have heard of.

The manga is only eight chapters composed into one volume. When I was looking the manga up online what I found interesting is that the one and only genre it’s categorized under is romance. And while yeah, ultimately this is a romance story, there’s definitely some dark supernatural elements as well. [update: this manga is now on mangafox and it IS categorized under supernatural and psychological as well as romance]

I tried to find some information on the manga author, who goes by “Sanzo” and nothing else, but I couldn’t find anything other than he has written a manga before this one called “My Girlfriend is a T-Rex”, which seems a lot lewder than Caterpillar Girl- it’s also a volume longer. I guess he likes the monster girl subgenre. Other than that, I couldn’t find out much about Sanzo.

Alright enough of the background stuff, what is Caterpillar Girl and Bad Texter Boy actually about?

Well, it’s about two childhood friends that seem to be opposites in just about every way. And what each gets from their relationship is very different. We have Suzume Kikuo, who was beloved by everyone she knew, beautiful, smart, and in love with her childhood friend Akane. Akane was self-loathing, a loner, insecure, and constantly compared himself to Suzume. In the very first page, he says in narration that “Suzume had everything I didn’t”. This all leads to what I said about what each character gets from being around the other. Suzume has a crush on Akane so we can assume his presence makes her feel happy. Akane on the other hand…

Whenever he was with her he felt so miserable he wanted to die. That’s a pretty extreme way to feel by merely being around someone. And can I also add that the way he rejects Suzume’s feelings is really harsh? Not only does he respond to her request to be his girlfriends with “Hunh? No way.” but he then continues to say “If I were to go out with someone perfect like you, Suzume…it’d probably be really hard on me…” And that’s just…a really fucked up thing to say to someone who put themselves out there and confessed romantic feelings towards you. Akane made it all about himself despite Suzume being the one with these feelings. And you see his self-loathing nature to cause him to be self-centered and selfish (I’ve said ‘self’ way too many times in this sentence) a lot more times throughout the series. And the story addresses how this negatively affects those around him. So much so the Suzume turns herself into a caterpillar, bringing us to the premise of the story.

Suzume turns herself into a caterpillar as a means to get Akane to accept her feelings for him. She strips herself of her beauty and “perfectness” all for Akane, thinking he’ll be able to be with her if she’s more miserable than he is.

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This brings me to the theme of obsessive love in this story. Or even how Suzume’s caterpillar form symbolizes obsessive love.

After this turn of events, Akane will continuously ask Suzume why she likes him- why does she like him enough to turn herself into this ugly creature? And she never really gives him an answer. In fact, I don’t think even Suzume understood why her feelings for him were so strong.

Something to consider about Suzume’s caterpillar form is that while she made the decision and purposefully became a caterpillar, the consequences that come after that are not things she wanted. She begins to hate being outside and just wants to stay inside in the dark, she was no longer reliable like Akane described her, she loses her ability to taste food, she can no longer do basic things like fold clothes or pick things up. Sure she gave up being a human, but along with that, she lost even more of herself.

And what Suzume says in that last panel is right. She only continues to lose more of herself, sometimes losing all control of her caterpillar form and not being able to speak or anything. Still, at this point in the story, Akane doesn’t think he’s good enough for Suzume.

Later in the story, Akane finds a way to turn Suzume back into her human form, but only for a temporary amount of time- she’s still a caterpillar. Think of it as a disguise. However, even when she’s in her human form- she’s been a caterpillar for so long at this point that she can’t read or write. Akane also describes her as not being the same happy girl at school she used to be.

Suzume’s love for Akane was to an obsessive point where she willingly gave up a huge part of herself to gain his acceptance. And before she knew it she was losing more and more of what made her-her, not even being able to help it. And in the end, when he finally reciprocated her feelings, she was only a shell of what she used to be. Her human form was just that, a form. It was now a fake version of herself. You see what I mean when I say this was dark?

Now I don’t blame this all on Akane. Suzume is ultimately the one who turned herself into a caterpillar. Akane is… a very distressed person. He lacks any sort of self-worth. That, on top of the guilt from Suzume turning into a caterpillar for him (which he sees as because of him) really messes with him. I mean imagine not seeing anything worthwhile in yourself while also seeing someone give up themselves for you- it would feel very conflicting. He’s so blinded by his own self-hate that he’s incapable of understanding Suzume’s feelings, which I think in the end will only lead him to hate himself even more.

In the end, both characters are hurting each other. And yet they end up together in the end.

This really was a bizarre story, but not at all in the way I was expecting. I did not expect it to be this dark. Then again, I really have a knack for unintentionally finding dark/depressing books/movies/series. I wish I knew how to break the curse.

Would I recommend this? Yeah sure. It’s relatively short and it’s interesting. I could see some people not enjoying it, however.

 

My Thoughts on Chapter 39 of Citrus (and also a lot of 23 and 24)

It truly amazes me how far Citrus has come since chapter 1. Somehow Citrus has managed to go from a yuri romance with a slightly larger amount of smut and angst than usual that had about every yuri trope, to an actually endearing and heartfelt love story of two girls. I reread the first volume and then reread chapter 39 again just to make sure the vast difference wasn’t all in my head and it isn’t. The tone of Citrus has been gradually shifting since the moment back somewhere in volume two when Yuzu realizes Mei needs a family more than she needs a romantic partner. Granted, they still end up dating not too much later, but the relationship dynamic changes after Yuzu has this realization. And the change is to something much healthier. But that’s not what I really wanted to talk about in this post. I wanted to specifically talk about chapter 39 (as the title would suggest).

Chapter 39 is tightly connected to chapters 23 and 24, which are my two favorite chapters of Citrus. If you want to have a vague idea on why then I’d suggest reading this post of mine, which could also probably help you have a better understanding of what I think about chapter 39 as well.

In chapter 23, Yuzu runs into friends from her old high school who she hasn’t talked to in a while. She gets ready to show her friends a picture of Mei, expecting them to be happy for her on her relationship.

And it’s fair to say that that didn’t exactly happen.

Yuzu is typically carefree and has an attitude of doing what makes her happy before anything else. It’s why she didn’t follow the school’s dress code, it was her biggest contrast to Mei at the beginning of the series. She did what she wanted (i.e. what made her happy) without caring about the consequences- because to her, the consequences were worth it in the end. This interaction with her friends almost broke that part of her.

I mean after she tells Mei about the incident with her old friends. She says:

So we know Yuzu went into this relatively carefree- or at least carefree from outside factors in their relationship. She never expected a negative reaction like the one she dealt with. She was just about to show them a picture of Mei before they started being homophobic towards the lesbian couple across the street. This experience has messed with Yuzu on a fundamental level. She’s feeling pain and sadness because she’s chosen to do what makes her happy (date Mei). And…Uhg I just loved these two chapters in the manga because in this time when Yuzu was feeling upset and confused Mei showed Yuzu her own notebook.

And the advice is very...Yuzu. And then Mei says to her-

and we see how the two of them have gone full circle.

Now I’m finally going to talk about chapter 39. Chapter 39 pretty much reinforces how Yuzu’s encounter with her old friends affected her, plus more good advice from her mom.

Chapter 39 is basically Yuzu coming out to her family and friends. But we see how nervous she gets before telling all of them in contrast to how excited she was to tell her old friends in chapter 23.

In the page with her mom you see how she isn’t sure how she’ll react and from her facial expression, you can tell that Yuzu is stressed by that. In the page where she’s ready to tell her best friend, Harumin, about her feelings for Mei you see that while her expression is partly goofy, her eyebrows are furrowed from worry. Her previous interaction with her old friends affected how she tackled telling others about Mei. I also want to mention the sense of urgency from Yuzu in the page with Harumin. Yuzu is determined to tell those close to her about her feelings and relationship with Mei in order to fix their relationship. This chapter kind of helped me realize where Yuzu’s carelessness stops, and that’s with people she loves. When it came to Mei and even her friends, she was always caring and sensitive. Even careful at times.

Of course. You need to take into account that Yuzu and Mei are also stepsisters, so them both being girls isn’t the only reason she’s worried about how others will react to her relationship with her. However, even without that factor, I think the emotions shown by Yuzu are relatable. The worry of not knowing how someone will react to your relationship. Or with Harumin, who she had no reason to think she wouldn’t accept her relationship, but was nervous regardless because of past experiences.

I also like the way Harumin and Yuzu’s mom reacted to Yuzu’s confession compared to her old friends.  Harumin and Yuzu’s mom where two characters that were always framed in a positive light, while Yuzu’s old friends were typically presented as shallow. I thought it was nice how the manga basically said it was shallow to not see same-sex couples as equally genuine to straight couples.

Okay, these two pages actually get me really emotional. Like, I’m tearing up as I write this right now. The look of worry on Yuzu’s face when her mom interrupts her in the middle of her outing herself about dating Mei and her expression when Harumin not only supports her feelings for Mei but offers to help her get back together with Mei is just…a lot. They’re not facial expressions we’re used to seeing on Yuzu. And I don’t know, there’s something about seeing all of Yuzu’s worry being responded to with nothing but positivity from her mom and best friend that felt really good. Especially considering that Yuzu had reason to think they wouldn’t. Hell, we’ve been around these characters for 39 chapters now and we had reason to think they wouldn’t respond well too. And there was Yuzu’s mom, who went on to say some really touching stuff.

Oh god I’m tearing up again. How did Citrus turn into so much? I really like how Yuzu’s mom compared her relationship to Yuzu’s dad to Yuzu and Mei. It shows how she sees no difference between the two relationships. She also talks about how choosing what makes you happy can also cause pain, which we’ve seen Yuzu realize and experience. And she’ll probably have to experience it a numerous amount of times in the future- her mom tells her this as well. But she also says the reason she’s telling Yuzu all of this is because she sees that she’s already made the decision to be with Mei. This is…actually…a pretty good message for a yuri. Not even for a yuri but for a romance. Relationships aren’t meant to be treated with a happy go lucky attitude. Sometimes relationships are difficult not because there’s anything wrong with the two people but because of outside forces like time, work, money, sickness, people, outside forces are especially hard in lgbt+ relationships. Citrus emphasizes how much it really means to care enough about someone to be willing to go through all of that.

Citrus came a long way, and I’m proud of it. This is honestly probably one of my favorite Yuri’s. It’s been revealed that the next chapter will be the last and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sad about that. (I think it’s chapter 41 that will actually be the last whoops) But hey, how things are heading, it looks like we’re gonna be getting a happy ending! Yay!

Anyways I ended writing this way later than I intended to. I’ll probably end up writing about the last chapter of Citrus as well, knowing me. And I think the new chapter come out relatively soon if it’s not already out. Like I said, I wrote this really late.

NOTE: So last night I saw on twitter that chapter 40 is out in english now. And…I was joking when I said it might be out already. I really didn’t think I was that late like it really took me a month to come up with this post im

 

you can find my original post of this here on tumblr.

Me Talking About Citrus Again

I meant to write  this sooo long ago. Like, while Citrus was actually airing- long ago. Bear with me it’s been a few months since I read the manga at this point.

Whether you like it or not, I think we can all relate to how easy Citrus can suck you in.

I’ve only watched eight episodes of the Citrus anime adaptation, however, I have recently caught up to date on the manga and I’ve gotta say that Citrus gets significantly better after Mei and Yuzu officially start dating. This makes me worry about the anime adaptation however since it’s run time is only 12 episodes and Mei and Yuzu don’t start officially start dating until chapter 18 in the manga (not to mention another worrisome thing to me being that the anime is categorized as a shoujo-ai while the manga is a yuri). And most of Citrus before that, while entertaining, was overall just kind of frustrating.

Okay, saying that all of Citrus before chapter 18 is bad wouldn’t be fair. Most of the really bad stuff is in volume one and two and even then it manages to be somewhat entertaining. It just…it just… it makes me sad knowing that the beginning could’ve been done better. Like, why did their relationship have to start through sexual assault? I don’t think it’s impossible to write a good, heartful incest romance. I’ve haven’t watched Koi Kaze, but from what I’ve heard it’s pretty well done and manages to feel realistic and…how do I word it…caring of the subject at hand?

For the majority of the beginning of Citrus, it felt like Yuzu and Mei being step-sisters was amped to just be something to make this yuri (shoujo ai if we’re talking about the anime) saucier.

It’s actually pretty strange how the relationship dynamic gets so much healthier once they start dating. The writing feels better, the characters feel more likable- everything just sort of improves after they start dating. It’s really shame the anime only showcased “the chase”.

There’s even some interesting commentary on what it’s probably like to be a lesbian in Japan. One part before Yuzu and Mei started dating that I really liked was when Yuzu met Sara (I totally did not just look her name up). Yuzu admired how open she was about being in love with another girl, leading Yuzu to confide in her about her own feelings towards another girl. It was a moment of bonding between two girls who had just met and yet served as a reason for neither of them to feel alone in their feelings. At the end of the conversation, Sara says something along the lines of  “we need to stick out for each other” and they both smile at each other.

Another scene that really stood out to me was when Yuzu met up with friends from her old school and was about to tell them about Mei, the girl she was dating. Before she could do so, however, her friends noticed a lesbian couple across the street from them and start making really crude remarks about them. Yuzu responds really intensely to her friends’ remarks. This scene is probably the most serious I remember Yuzu ever being. Her old friends then laugh at her and the manga cuts to Mei opening the door to a crying Yuzu.

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Then a little bit later she tells Mei what happened that night and Mei shows Yuzu what she had written in her date-plan notebook thing which said:

While the notebook only talks about them being step-sister I think this advice also takes in account that they’re two girls dating each other. This was a major turning point in how I felt about Citrus. It went from a story that gets better after a while to a story that ended up being amazing and made the beginning look like massive loss potential. It was no longer “huh, now that they’re dating the story isn’t as bad” but “this is actually really good, this is has gotten significantly better since the beginning”.

This isn’t without saying that the relationship between Yuzu and Mei isn’t flawed. The relationship can be very one sided at time, feeling as if Yuzu is doing all of the work. This is especially the case in the first 18 chapters, or better yet before they started dating. But the manga at least addresses this at one point, so it feels more like a flaw in the relationship the two are aware of rather than a flaw in the writing. I can’t say the same for the anime, sadly.

It’s too bad that the anime adapted the worst part of the manga, especially since it manages to get so good over time. That first chunk of Citrus is a serious blight for the rest of the story and it really frustrates me. With a better beginning and “chase” Citrus could’ve made for one of the best yuri out there.

originally posted here

Our Relationship is…(something about us/woori)

This webtoon made it reeeeaally hard for me to study last week. I would be studying terms for my history exam coming up in the next few days, and in the back of my head, I just kept thinking I need to read more chapters. I need to read more chapters. So when I thought it was time I should take a break. I would tell myself I was going to read one chapter. And then I’d end up reading like ten.

Our Relationship Is… is a perfect example of that you can have a cliche premise/plot and still manage to have a really enjoyable, good story. The two main characters, Doh Gayoung and Han Woojin are very likable characters. You know exactly what it is that they like about each other and you know when each started liking the other (at least friendwise). Gayoung at first thought of Woojin as intimidating. It wasn’t until she realized his genuine friendliness towards her and others that she warms up to him, which was hard for her due to being bullied by a close friend of hers in middle school. Woojin feels that Gayoung is someone he wants to be friends with after seeing her get along with and making his mom really happy. Something I admire the webtoon for is that it didn’t need to give Gayoung and Woojin personalities that contrasted to an extreme extent. They actually have a good number of similarities. I don’t know I just don’t see that a lot of these kinds of stories about romantic friendships.

You see how the way they perceive each other changes slightly as they get older along with their relationship dynamic changing. For example, at the beginning of the webtoon Gayoung described Woojin as carefree, however later in the story when they start dating she describes him as someone who doesn’t tell others about his issues because he’s afraid of burdening them and that he puts other’s problems before his own. It’s really interesting to see the two grow together and the problems they deal with feel more adult than one from a lot of romances. Like not having time for each other or taking their frustration out on one another due to work or familial issues.

I’m also very very very very happy that Our Relationship Is… didn’t turn into a story about an affair. When Han Woojin started dating Gayoung’s friend, which is around the time Gayoung realized her feelings for Woojin were more than platonic, I got worried that this would become a story including an affair, which would damage how much I liked Woojin and Gayoung. But to my happiness, it didn’t get to that so…yay.

I’m really surprised this webtoon isn’t more popular. It’s a really good read and I think I’d recommend it to just about anyone. The side characters are likable, the main characters are extremely likable, everything about the webtoon is likable. Well…aside from the last chapter which I have to say was underwhelming.

I heard it’s getting a live k-drama adaptation so I’m really excited for that. Maybe that’ll get it more notice.

originally posted here

Citrus Anime Adaptation?WAH!?

This is the trailer of the anime adaptation posted on Crunchyroll.

Now I’m sorry…

but what the fuck is up with that classical music vsbkdjbvkf

I’m actually surprised by how mature the character designs look. I imagined the anime adaptation would go with cuter designs since most yuri’s I know of look really moe-ish.

So far I’ve only read two volumes of Citrus and it’s so packed-filled with lesbian/yuri tropes that I always assumed it was intentional and meant to take the piss out of others in the genre. Question: am I the only one that found this manga humorous in scenes where nothing was indicated that it was meant to be funny? It’s been a while, but I remember laughing at basically everything while reading the manga. This leads me to wonder if Citrus is either a uncreative story that recycles old yuri archetypes and tropes, or is it actually using these tropes ironically to illicate some humor while still keeping us entertained in the same way a normal yuri would?

Even if the manga did everything ironically, I can’t help but hope that the animated version treats the relationship between Mei and Yuzu with more care and respect than the manga. It’d be nice to see a Yuri anime that feels like a real romance and not just a…well, fanservicey yuri. Like I said, the character design looks pretty mature, so maybe theres some hope for a yuri done with some maturity.

 

original post here