Inside Mari (Chapters 1-4) Review
Reviewed by: Linny
Synopsis: A young man wakes up to find himself in the body of a high school girl he had been casually stalking for a while. He does not know why or how this happened, and knows nothing about her besides the fact that they went to the same convenience store every night. With no information and no help, he must now figure out what his next step will be.
Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Inside Mari does not have the most unique tag line. It’s about body swapping, something that has been addressed and explored by many other series. What’s different though is how our male protagonist behaves and reacts to being in a girl’s body. It’s not played up for laughs, but treated with a more grounded attitude. While his first reaction is to poke ‘his’ breasts, he then refuses to take leering looks at his/her body. There is a moment where he freaks out when he has to pee, unfamiliar with how that works and feels in a female body, but the humour even in that panel feels more subdued compared to others.
Inside Mari is a mature comic for a couple of reasons. Yes, first off, there are some scenes of undressing but it’s not sexualized, and are used to actually move the story and not just for sheer titillation value. But most importantly, it has a mature attitude. Even in its very first couple chapters, it addresses the issue of how women are often gawked at and subject to a lot of male gaze. It doesn’t go ultra preachy, it just points out that yes, women get gawked at, and yes, women can notice or feel it when they are being gawked at by men, and it can be uncomfortable for women. This makes me feel that the manga will appeal to and please female readers as it spreads awareness and starts to acknowledge the baggage that comes with being a female.
Unfortunately, our male protagonist feels a bit weak and tropey. He’s a shut-in as a result of developing some sort of mental anxiety after realizing that even in college, he remains a friendless and ignored loser, which was reinforced by his high school experience of being bullied and teased for being weird. We do not even know his full name as of yet. This may turn off potential readers who are sick of having a socially awkward and inept character in the lead role, especially as the story so far is completely focused on him and him alone. As you might have guessed, he then struggles to keep his calm and try to pass off as Mari, constantly trying to find out answers about himself/her so he can pass off as her and plan his next move. The story starts to feel a bit like a mystery novel as we try to figure things out with him. So far, we know only what he manages to find out about Mari (which isn’t a lot yet), and we do not even know what has happened to the real Mari herself.
The art style isn’t particularly outstanding or impressive. It just about does its job and is rather plain to look at. It should be a non issue for all but those who dislike bland designs.
With that all said, Inside Mari is an engaging read, with a unique approach to body swapping. It uses its premise to explore the female gender in a respectful manner, and also the mystery of why it happened and how it could possibly be solved and end. It’s definitely not for those who expect constant slapstick humour, but it should make an enlightening and engaging time for any reader who craves a story with psychological connotations.
Inside Mari is available digitally via Crunchyroll.com.