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Manga Review: Cactus’s Secret Volume One by Nana Haruta

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Cactus’s Secret Volume One is a manga by Nana Haruta, and it was published by Viz Media’s Shojo Beat imprint in 2010. The series is rated “T” for teens; after reading this manga volume, I would agree with this rating.

The main character is Miku Yamada, and she’s a first-year high school student. She’s had a crush on her classmate, Kyohei Fujioka, since middle school. However, she hasn’t admitted her feelings to him.

Back in middle school, Fujioka was a rebellious and he bleached his hair. However, he’s no longer rebellious, and he’s no longer bleaching his hair. Unfortunately, Fujioka isn’t doing well in school, and he’s rather clueless.

Yamada decides that she’s going to try to confess her feelings to Fujioka. However, even though Yamada acts in a way where most people would figure out what she’s trying to do, Fujioka is so clueless that he doesn’t realize it. Yamada becomes frustrated with how clueless Fujioka is, and she can act rather prickly toward him.

At the risk of giving a spoiler, I have to say that it was nice to see at the end of this volume that Yamada’s attempts to confess her feelings to Fujioka aren’t going to make up the crux of the whole series. Also, right at the end of the volume, a new obstacle appears for Yamada as she decides that she wants to get closer to Fujioka.

Cactus’s Secret relies on tropes associated in shojo, in both the writing and the artwork. While the story isn’t necessarily bad, it doesn’t stand out enough from other similar shojo stories to make the reader forget that they’re seeing familiar  shojo tropes in the art.

As far as the story itself goes, it contains a lot of the elements I’ve come to expect from other shojo titles that feature teenagers in high school. Unfortunately, as an adult reader who has started to read more shojo manga over the past year, it was hard for me not to see Cactus’s Secret as yet another formula teenage romance story. I really don’t want to be too hard on this manga, because I understand that I’m not really in the target demographic for this series. But I believe that Cactus’s Secret should have a stronger appeal to teenage girls who enjoy shojo manga.

I wouldn’t be adverse to reading future volumes of this series if I come across them at the library, but I’m not going to go out of my way to find the next volume to find out what happens next.

About Lesley Aeschliman

Lesley Aeschliman is a freelance writer who began writing on a full-time basis in 2007. She has served as the Anime editor at BellaOnline.com, and she also writes and maintains two blogs: Lesley's Musings... on Anime and Manga and AeschTunes.