In The Magic Touch Volume one, Izumi Tsubaki delivers a brand new shojo manga based around the art of massage and the odd circumstances that bring an unlikely teen couple together.
Chiaki is a fairly normal teenager – except that she lives in the shadow of her much more attractive sister, Saya, and isn't too good at math or sports…or much of anything else except massage. Even though Chiaki is known for being quiet and isn't particularly popular, she's the star of the school Massage Research Society Club. Students line up at the end of school every day just to get a massage from Chiaki. One day, she falls in love with a gorgeous back: the back of Yosuke, the most attractive guy in the entire school.
Without a second thought Chiaki asks if she can massage his back, and he agrees, but under one condition: she has to make him fall in love with her. The situation isn't as easy as it seems when Yosuke learns that his younger brother was once snubbed by a girl who is also named Chiaki.
By far the best part of this manga was the short story "Teach Me Prince," about Chiaki's brother, the so-called "prince of massage," even though it appeared in the middle of the volume instead of at the end where it wouldn't have interrupted the story. It's a little strange to me that the side story featured a character who had not yet been introduced in the main story, which led to a considerable amount of confusion about how the story related to the overall plot arc of the manga. Despite this, the story itself was absolutely adorable and features some amazingly cute moments that made it highly emotional and memorable.
Aside from this, the plot itself is decent. Even though it's highly predictable, it has some cute little moments that really hit home with me and took me back to my high school days. It also had very effective, believable comedy that made me laugh aloud while I was reading. Though it didn't have amazing character development or story, The Magic Touch has a really adorable plot that's fun and entertaining.
The artwork, however, is one of the weakest parts of the book. It's not bad, but when the panel changes to a far away shot of the characters, some of the proportions get a little off and don't quite look right. Thankfully, this doesn't happen often and seems to get better as the story progresses.
The translation isn't bad, but there are definitely some problems with cultural references that don't quite work here. I'm not sure if this is a problem with the translation itself or the way that the original manga was written, but the Japanese cultural references didn't seem like they were well explained or well integrated into the story. I know that the editors try to compensate for this by adding in asterisks with explanations, but this really detracts from the story.
The Magic Touch, at its core, is a typical shojo story about high school and relationships but with the added quirk of massage, which gives this story a little something unique. The story is also genuinely cute and funny, which isn't always the case in many shojo mangas, giving The Magic Touch a healthy dose of freshness for manga readers.