Manga Review – Cash Boy

Cash Boy Volume 1

Cash Boy
キャッシュボーイ
MURAO Mio
Seinen – Romance
2 Volumes (complete)
Media Do (NIHONBUNGEISHA)

Summary:

Everyone is thrilled to see such a happy wedding between two single parents. But the honeymoon turns into a funeral, leaving their kids, Takanori and Hikaru, alone. The stepsiblings are about to give up their college dreams, but then they learn they are inheriting a large sum of money! They can draw cash only if both agree, so how will these near-strangers handle balancing living out their fantasies and with each other?

Warning: this review is of a series that is recommended for ages 18+ and is not safe for work!

Review:

Wow, these characters suck. And not in *that way*, but yeah, that too.

Seriously though, it’s been a long time since I’ve experienced a series where I’d like to punch everyone. Or maybe just steal all of their belongings and finances because that might hurt them more.

Well, maybe they don’t suck all the time. After all, they have to make time for being stupid and vain as well. And the sucky ending as well.

I mean, I knew was in trouble when this is the first chapter’s splash page:

Cash Boy Sample 1

So university student Takanori and high school student Hikaru become stepsiblings, but while their parents are on their honeymoon, they die. They learn they are getting 1 billion yen (approximately $8 million), and they’ll get money for living expenses and such every month. But anything beyond that, they both have to agree to. When they get married, they’ll split the rest of the money.

Now, one billion yen is a lot of money. And I can understand making some poor decisions after suddenly losing the one parent that has been raising you for years and having to live with someone you barely know. I can even understand blowing some cash on luxuries like a big screen TV to help fill the void. But holy cow, these stepsiblings are more concerned about getting a lover (well, specifically, getting laid) than mourning the deaths of their parents. Except for one instance after the mostly off-screen week after their death, neither brings up something like, “This is all we have left of our parents. We need to treasure it.”

Instead, let’s spend it on prostitutes, virtual strangers, getting revenge, and bailing out of dumb scams. And remember, if you find out your little sister is in trouble… watch porn first.

Cash Boy Sample 3

Takanori is obsessed with having his first sexual experience. At the beginning of the manga, he’s crushing on Mika, a beauty who only dates rich guys. Hikaru is disappointed that her new stepbrother is such a loser (attending a low-level school, has no girlfriend, etc.), but she uses her looks to get him to forgive her. The two (but mostly Takanori) keep having romantic mishaps and problems as they use up the money. Neither stepsibling is very good at either one of of these. Takanori spends money to have women touch him while Hikaru hits on older men attending a prestigious Japanese university. Most of their love interests turn out to be two-faced, although one arguably redeems themself. And I guess I give a small amount of credit to the author for not having repeated manga romcom antics like accidentally landing on a girl’s chest

Even when the characters may have a moment of decency or common sense (Takanori gives Mika 30,000 yen earrings instead of 1 million yen earrings), it doesn’t take much for them to fall right back into idiocy. The two are teenagers, to be sure, but dang it, you have no other relatives now. Take some responsibility for your actions! And stop hanging around people giving bad advice. Like, according to Takanori’s friends (and he agrees), they think any girl who would spend time volunteering is ugly and frigid. They’d only be worth dating until someone better came along. I know this series is 25 years old and teenagers in particular don’t have the best judgment because of hormones, but good heavens, what a horrible attitude to have. Money = love is perhaps the biggest philosophy pushed by the characters. Even mob characters whine and complain that they had to spend too much on their girlfriends.

Cash Boy Sample 2

Plus, the ending is ridiculous. It’s a bit open-ended and is neither a happily-ever-after nor an ironic tale. That’s a surprise considering both these volumes are about 230 pages long. The manga spends too much time on showing the leads getting into trouble again that the final chapters don’t reflect much — if any — growth. Even at the very end, there’s the uneasy feeling that at least one of the leads thinks money is king. The whole manga might have been more palatable if we had seen everyone develop for the better, but no. Sure, the siblings defend each other, but they also put themselves in financial and physical danger. I guess we’re supposed to imagine them maturing during the rest of college and high school, but I have a feeling they’ll spend a lot of time going off-track again. I don’t feel like this is a story of a flirt — or rather, wannabe playboy — learning what love is, and Hikaru is not going to stop being tsundere.

The manga is from 1994. It kind of covers artwork from the late 80s to mid 90s with rounded faces, glassy eyes, and pronounced noses. The characters undergo this shift as the art becomes brighter and more modern. It’s kind of like Kimagure Orange Road and Ranma 1/2 and by the end, it’s closer to the key art of their anime adaptations. The manga features plenty of sexual content with Takanori picturing what he wants to do or characters fooling around. One of the jokes of the manga is that an (manga version of an) ugly girl thinks of herself as quite the looker. The series also shows recreational drug use and mentions one character’s physical trait that embarrasses him. There’s not much for me to say about the art — it’s done in a classic style and has adult imagery. I think the art was the least of the manga’s problems. In fact, it might be the best part considering the low bar set by the story and characters.

Translation:

No honorifics are used. So it’s “Big Brother” instead of “Onii-chan” and such. In the opening pages and throughout, Japanese text is not erased. The English text is just added somewhere in the panel, covering up part of the art. Not super important parts of the panel, I must admit, but it still looks like a bad, lazy scanlation job. Translation also makes errors like called Hikaru “Haruka” in her introduction and “aclub” instead of “a club”. In the same panel (but two different speech bubbles), a briefcase is spelt “biefcase” and “birefase”. Footnotes are used for stuff like explaining Keio U’s prestige and yen to USD. There’s awkward dialogue like saying “You’re making the dinner?!” instead of “You’re making dinner?!” One baseball metaphor (“three strikes, I’m out” is replaced with a generic “loser”), and Dial Q2 is called Telekura. The manga gets better overall after its horrid opening, but it’s still another strike against the manga.

Final Comments:

I think Cash Boy is going in my Hall of Fame as one of the worst manga I’ve ever read. Well, maybe I can’t quite put it there because the art isn’t bad, but definitely in the worst story and worst characters categories. The halfhearted localization adds another nail to Cash Boy‘s coffin.

Murao’s S and M and The Eve of Uneasiness is also licensed through Media Do.

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3 Comments

  1. The Otaku Judge

    Sounds terrible. It’s tough to stick with a manga if the leads are selfish and stupid. It’s okay to have a character with some flaws, as you expect them to mature over the course of the story. If their is no growth by the time you reach the final chapter what is the point.

    Reply
    1. Krystallina (Post author)

      Totally agree.

      Reply
  2. renxkyoko

    Yep, I get what you mean. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It does sound truly horrible.

    Reply

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