Medaka Kuroiwa is Impervious to My Charms has been running in Kodansha’s popular Weekly Shounen Magazine since 2021 and made its English digital debut in March 2022. More than a year later this series has found its way to the physical market, but does it prove a must-read? Let’s find out!
Our story follows Mona, the cutest girl in her Tokyo high school who is adored by all of her peers – except for classmate Medaka Kuroiwa! Medaka is a new transfer student who came into their class two weeks before the start of the series. Usually, by now a newbie would be falling all over Mona, but so far Medaka has been unapproachable. He glares at Mona whenever she tries to interact with him and refuses to play along with any of her advances, even going so far as to tell her not to interact with him!
At this point, most people would give up and leave Medaka alone, but Mona refuses to go unacknowledged by him and begins plotting ways to win his affection. She decides it’s her mission to make him fall in love with her.
What our heroine doesn’t know is that Medaka is a monk-in-training who isn’t allowed to fall in love and he thinks she’s super cute! But he’s resolved not to react or let her know his inner thoughts for if he does, he knows he’ll become nothing more than her plaything and quickly lose his determination. And so their peaceful days go on, with Mona desperately trying to come up with ways to get Medaka’s attention while he does his best to ignore her advances. All the while Mona begins to slowly fall in love with him for real…
In many ways, this premise is not too dissimilar to Don’t Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro or Teasing Master Takagi-san and fans of those titles will enjoy the similarities here. However, I am not the biggest fan of the early chapters here in Volume 1. In a desperate attempt to get Medaka to notice her, Mona resorts to flashing her underwear at him and later showing him her bra. There’s quite a lot of ecchi fanservice throughout this first volume and honestly, I think that distracts from what is otherwise a fairly entertaining read.
Another problem for me is the introduction of Tsubomi Haruno, another classmate who admires Mona and has a collection of secret photos stored on her phone. To begin with, Tsubomi assumes that Medaka is bullying Mona in some way and gets annoyed with him which Mona then misunderstands as Tsubomi being in love with Medaka! It’s a mess and while the misunderstandings are funny, to begin with, I couldn’t help but be weary of Tsubomi who (thanks to the photo collection) came off as a bit of a creepy stalker-like archetype. Luckily by the end of the book, that part of her personality has been toned down, but it’s just another thing to put off potential readers.
This isn’t mangaka Ran Kuze’s first work, but it is the first to make its way to the English market. My criticisms of the story aside, the rest of the series has a lot going for it. The character designs are attractive and Kuze is good at depicting a wide range of emotions throughout the eight chapters included here. And that’s especially important for Mona who changes drastically between her private inner thoughts and her ‘queen bee’ persona at school, so I’m glad Kuze’s work captures that so well. Ultimately it’s the strength of the art that will keep me on the hook for one more volume to see how things pan out.
I’m hoping that as more characters are introduced and Mona comes to terms with the fact she has feelings for Medaka that this series will turn into a gentler romantic comedy with less emphasis on the fanservice. Between that and Tsubomi there are enough problems here that I can’t see me continuing beyond Volume 2 if these persist, but there are signs of improvement toward the end of Volume 1, so I’m willing to give it a second chance to demonstrate why this is such a popular series. Maybe it just isn’t for me and that’s okay, but I think there’s simply more to this one than we’ve seen in its first outing.
Medaka Kuroiwa is Impervious to My Charms Volume 1 comes to the West thanks to Kodansha and has been translated by Anh Kiet Pham Ngo with lettering by Arbash Mughal. The release reads well with no issues. There’s a colour page included at the beginning too, which is always a nice inclusion!
The series is ongoing in Japan with ten volumes and has recently surpassed 150,000 copies in circulation. Kodansha has so far released seven volumes digitally in English with the physical releases on a bimonthly schedule. Volume 2 is coming to print in August with #3 following in October.
Overall, Medaka Kuroiwa is Impervious to My Charms is off to an imperfect start. There’s a quite a few issues that prevent me from getting invested, but toward the end of the volume, things are starting to improve so it may simply be a series that needs another chance to prove itself.
A free preview of the series can be found on Kodansha’s website here.