Also, it's time for another installment of Overlooked Manga Festival! Yes!
This manga is so overlooked that it doesn't even have an entry on Wikipedia. That's pretty damn overlooked. Even Tokyo Mew Mew has an entry on Wikipedia, and frankly, if you enjoy Tokyo Mew Mew and you're also old enough to type stuff into a wiki, there's something wrong with you.
Wild Act is hilarious and adorable, even when it's being incredibly disturbing. It was published by Tokyopop, although it's currently out of print and Tokyopop's online store doesn't even list it. Viz currently publishes one of Rie Takada's other manga, Happy Hustle High, which is similar in tone but vaguely grounded in what humans might recognize as reality, which Wild Act most definitely is not. In my mind, that makes Wild Act better. Your mileage may vary.
Anyway. Yuniko, our heroine, is a teenage cat burglar and martial artist who specializes in stealing memorabilia related to her favorite movie star, the late, great Akira Nanae. She does it like this:
Her father is dead and her mother has amnesia, so naturally she's been raised by a kindly theater company. She carries high-tech gadgets developed by a pervy nerd who has a crush on her (and allows her to pay him by beating him up) and she owns a flying squirrel named Kamui. (In one of the later marginal notes, we learn that this sidekick was inspired by Takada's own FIVE PET FLYING SQUIRRELS. Seriously.) Yuniko's got more charming yet completely implausible character quirks than Jennifer Beals in "Flashdance." Also, she is totally awesome. Enjoy her in some rappelling action!
So far, so good. But what heist/theater comedy/drama would be complete without a dashing love interest? Yuniko hooks up with Ryu, an up-and-coming young movie star who can defuse an out-of-control mob (provided the mob is composed mostly of girls) by just leaning against a nearby wall and aggressively looking hot, and soon the two are making beautiful music together. Naturally, there are lots of ridiculous complications interfering with the couple's happiness, most of which can be solved by stealing more movie memorabilia. And at Volume 4 the manga tosses us an extra-creepy curve ball. But through it all, the duo remains pretty darn upbeat.
Not that there aren't problems. After all, Ryu is a famous and popular movie star, and he has to hang out with beautiful leading ladies, and from time to time there's bound to be hard feelings...
"The Phantom X Men." Yes.
But overall, the central relationship is surprisingly healthy and positive for a shojo manga. I'm totally shocked to read a shojo manga where the heroine actively enjoys sex, instead of displaying the more standard attitude of "I'll lie here and let him do it to me because I love him so much and otherwise he might leave me...ooo, what is this warm feeling?...okay, good, it's over." In general, this is a manga that doesn't angst around a whole lot.
It also has what may be the greatest panel in comics, ever. Yuniko and Ryu have had a spat, causing Ryu to spend his nights roaring off in his motorcycle, and Yuniko fears the worst:
Eventually, she gets fed up and follows him in a taxi, determined to learn the truth:
Monkey orgy sex fantasy. That's better than anything that happened in the entire run of whatever manga you're reading right now.
America, you suck for not reading this manga. Do you not like awesome heroines? Do you not like handsome heroes? Do you not like funny jokes? Do you not like absurd V.C. Andrews-like plots that also include movie stars and rappeling? Enjoy Wild Act! Also, make this into your LiveJournal icon: