W Change! Manga Review
Plot: Maki Kisaragi is the heir to a well-known and feared Yakuza clan, and she holds the Kisaragi’s blood that grants her with the unique power of having dual identities. One is the mild mannered Maki who wants nothing more than to escape her life as a child of the Yakuza and become a normal bride, the other is a violent Maki who loves nothing more than violence and fighting and would love to take over the Kisaragi group. Maki is also deeply in love with another yakuza heir, Tatsuya Fukama of the Kokushin group, who seems to want to pursue a life in the yakuza. Maki has to deal with her shifting personalities and trying to shake off her yakuza ties to achieve her dreams, but not everything turns out as you plan.
Reasons for Rating: This is a somewhat unique story as it has an interesting combination of slice of life, romance and crime stories. A good chunk of the first half is mostly about Maki and introducing us to her perils in dealing with both ‘violent’ Maki and her yakuza family, and I was actually somewhat worried that the whole yakuza thing was tacked on to change up a romance manga, but the second half really takes off with the whole yakuza plot points and makes for a really interesting and exciting gang war story while also keeping in plenty of character development and romance.
Maki herself is a little annoying in that her only goals for a good chunk of the series is to be a normal bride, notably to Tatsuya. I can understand how a teenage girl would be apprehensive to join organized crime, even if she was raised in it, but just the fact that her only goal is to get married and be a ‘normal bride’ just irks me. She develops a lot over the series and even changes her goals quite a bit. She became a much more likable character in the last half even if there was a spot during the middle that seriously made me roll my eyes about her.
Tatsuya is one of those perfect guys who is a model student, incredibly handsome, a great fighter and of course sometimes plays the hero. He’s also very good at his job in the yakuza and is also best friends with a regular gang leader named Tachibana who has ties to his family’s group. However, he does have flaws as he gets injured several times in the course of the manga and makes mistakes concerning Maki. Despite his goals being the polar opposite of hers, barring the marriage thing, he still deeply loves her as well.
Their relationship is also very well handled. There’s no real BS or drama about their relationship barring one part during the middle that contributes to the note about eye rolling I made about Maki. They’re a very likable and cute couple, and they have plenty of chemistry and beautiful moments.
Later, they also go to school with another yakuza heir. Basically yakuza are everywhere. The only ‘normal’ person in the regular group of characters is a girl named Tomoka, who is Maki’s best friend from school. She knows about Maki’s personality problem as well as all of the other yakuza stuff with Tatsuya and Tachibana, making her a bit of a straight man.
The yakuza storyline is very interesting and kept me on the edge of my seat. While the activities in the yakuza weren’t super dark or anything over the course of the show, the story did take several dark turns. The first actual murder that occurred blew my mind because they had been mostly about beating each other up and basically gang violence no worse than your average shounen show. But then they brutally murder a character that I really liked and damn it hit hard. Near the end they basically take the gloves off and start the real bloodshed, but that first murder had a lot of impact.
How they wrapped up Maki’s issue with her personality shifting was also pretty well-handled and even tied into what happened with her father who also possessed the Kisaragi’s personality shifting powers. It wasn’t particularly corny, and it created a bridge to a change in her character that actually made a lot sense instead of forcing it upon her.
I will say that the final chapter is pretty predictable and somewhat cheesy….I mean, really? (Spoilers) Maki’s grandfather decides to make the group into a charity and elderly nursing organization? I mean, yeah it kinda makes sense, but he was all about yakuza and keeping the Kisaragi group in power. (end of spoilers) but it’s also a nice ending with a basically believable ending, law and romance wise.
Art: The art is very well detailed and visually appealing, however, there’s not a lot that makes it stand out from other common anime art forms.
Bottomline: If you like romance and crime, or even one or the other, give this manga a shot. It’s well-written, fairly funny, exciting and changes up your average tales of romance and even crime. It’s no masterpiece, but it’s definitely worth a shot. There’s a sequel called Change 2 which is actually a short prequel to the story if you want to check that out first. Though I haven’t read it, it seems like a telling of how Maki initially found out about her other personality.