Boy Meets Maria

Vol: 1; Ch: 6
2017 - 2018
4.339 out of 5 from 1,522 votes
Rank #233
Boy Meets Maria

Taiga dreams of becoming an actor, so the first thing he does upon entering high school is join the drama club. There, he meets the beautiful, enigmatic Maria and immediately falls in love with her. Not long after, Taiga is told that she is actually a boy–but is that all there is to Maria’s story? This beautifully illustrated one-volume tale, the debut work of creator PEYO before their untimely passing in 2020, explores the layered nature of personal expression and the fluidity of the power of love.

Source: Seven Seas

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The artwork on the first page is very appealing to me--the crumbly panels and heavily textured backgrounds. On some level, I wish the entire series was drawn in that style, though the remainder is still high quality (if a bit more bland). It has brighter colors and uninterrupted rectangular panel outlines. There are some moments of increased sketchiness and I actually like those moments more than the more clean-cut stuff, I think.  It feels like there's a kernel of heartfelt meaningfulness and sweetness underneath the heavyhanded storytelling, but I'm not sure if this story captures it as well as it could have. And this might be a controversial opinion, but I think this story would've been best served if it wasn't a romance. First of all, the pushy way that Taiga keeps confessing over and over again is problematic. And by having this pushiness rewarded with a romantic ending, it almost encourages not giving up on your feelings even if the other party isn't interested (and therein lies the path of entitlement, disrespect, and even abuse or stalking on the extreme end of things). But also, the primary point of this manga doesn't have to do with the romance in the slightest. Instead, it's about people learning to face the traumatic parts of their past head-on rather than trying to repress them or rely on emotional crutches. It's also about how people like to place others into neat little boxes ("boy"/"girl") and how that type of thing is disrespectful and how it's better to engage with people as individuals instead. Taiga and Arima (in various senses) both admired the strength and courage they saw in the other and wanted to emulate those positive traits. At its core, this is a story about an emotional bond and about two people giving each other the support and acceptance they both were in need of. One of the moments early on that felt like it might lead into a romance--the keeping of the flower--is even explained as occurring because Arima was reminded of the man who had punched feir rapist and saved fem when fe was in elementary school. In other words, the flower wasn't kept for any sort of romantic reason. I'm not necessarily against the romantic ending, but I'm just saying that it felt a bit tacked on and it was also unnecessary.

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