Oh my, Sweet Alien (Yome ga Kore na Monde)
Story and Art by Kouji Miyata
Originally Publisher: Enterbrain
Publication Date: 2009 (2 Volumes, 11 Chapters)
Like with all mediums, you cannot judge a piece on something it doesn’t intend to do. Does this manga provide a compelling story, characterisation or exploration of themes? No. Was it created for that purpose? Definitely not. Oh my, Sweet Alien! encompasses a lighthearted, comical journey, where its intended effect on the reader is enjoyment as opposed to provoking thoughts. And in that sense this manga succeeds.
I find it really hard to discuss gag manga, because in general this genre doesn’t really appeal to me. I find it highly repetitive, with most manga in this category failing to add anything unique to it. Its formulaic structure is what makes it so attractive to many, as what you see is usually what you get. In that sense, I would argue that – apart from certain exceptions – you will either like gag manga or not.
Unfortunately, Oh my, Sweet Alien! is the generic comic manga I didn’t want it to be. The manga follows salaryman Nobuo, as he tries to juggle the various aspects of his life, including how his wife is an alien. He must prevent her from accidentally exposing herself, and use his knowledge of the earth to help her assimilate. Both the story and structure are far from unique. As all gag manga does, the story is separated into episodes, usually only one chapter in length. This technique is the bane of characterisation, as one chapter doesn’t provide enough detail to develop any aspect of the manga. Stunting the progression leads to repetitive stories told in a repetitive structure. Ultimately, Oh my, Sweet Alien! follows the comic formula so intently, that it feels like a watered down version of so many other pieces in the genre. In saying that, it’s hard to only blame this manga, as this genre is full of clones and copycats. I was just unlucky enough to read this one.
As the characters don’t develop at all over the course of 2 volumes, what you see in chapter 1 is what you get. And from the very beginning I wasn’t impressed. Nobuo is both inconsiderate and unable to put himself in his wife’s shoes, constantly berating her for her inability to understand minute cultural cues that even an Earthling outside of Japan may miss. Having him grounded in reality is supposed to provide a striking contrast to his wife, who often finds these norms peculiar, providing a slick form of comedy. But Nobuo comes across as too harsh, and I just end up feeling sorry for his wife. She, on the other hand, falls under the inhuman character design. Not in the sense that she’s literally an alien, but because she is too perfect. The classic extremely simple, too-naive-to-be-evil girl that acts how every man imagines the ideal women to act in their fantasies. I found it so boring and so formulaic that I didn’t care for them at all, nor was I given a reason to. It also reinforced harmful gender stereotypes, which was both tasteless and pointless.
With gag manga, the only unique aspect is its art (most of the time), which was well done in this piece. Miyata was able to provide clean imagery when depicting the real world, which would then contrast his bizarre alien creations. A subtle technique the artist uses, which may be overlooked by some readers, is that his panels are slightly zoomed in all the time. This means that the characters are “closer” to the reader than in most manga. Maybe if you’re attached to the characters, this proximity may make your relationship with them seem closer, but my inability to connect with any of them was not changed with the angles used.
In regards to the large amounts of nudity, I may be one of the few that believe a portion of it was unnecessary. The idea that the aliens found clothes trivial, and using this point to comment on shaming a natural part of us into privacy is one thing. But to be honest, I feel as though the author hides behind this idea so that he can create more ecchi scenes than necessary. There were some forms of nudity in almost every chapter, and the idea that a gag manga would be used to criticise the conservatism of society seems farfetched to me. In saying that, the art was still very well done, though I did roll my eyes at what was drawn at times.
So far, I may have given off the idea that I didn’t like this manga. Which isn’t necessarily the case. I enjoyed this manga as much as you can enjoy a relatively formulaic piece that provides no unique aspects to take away. Some parts I thought “hey, that’s kind of funny”, and some parts I thought “hey, that’s drawn well”, but there was nothing that made me jump up and scream it. Nothing that made me leap out of my chair, and spend fifteen minutes pacing around my room, trying to understand what I had just experienced. I can’t say this manga is bad, because it’s not something I would normally read. And an audience interested in this genre of manga would probably enjoy it, as it doesn’t stray in the slightest in techniques or characterisation. But as I have no affinity for this genre, a lack of originality and a lack of depth left me disappointed.
Art – 8
Story – 4
Writing – 4
Overall – 5/10