It was obvious from the first few pages that this manga was going to be weird. Luckily it also turned out to be weird in the best possible ways. It’s the kind of manga that makes me raise my eyebrows often, laugh at the unexpected twists and marvel that it was made in the first place. I’m willing to forgive many issues like ho-hum art when the story itself is this unique. It’s written by Iwashita Shigeyuki who seems to have a thing for making manga about people in strange relationships. It’s a good thing to have people like him out there making the manga landscape more interesting.
The main character is the high school student Ryuota who goes to school in a full body dog costume to hide his appearance. Some time ago in the past he was bullied for being fat, and now he wears the suit and refuses to show anyone what he actually looks like. Everyone at school have gotten used to him being in full costume all day long, and it seems to have been ineffective in stopping the bullies. A new substitute teacher joins the class and immediately becomes interested in Ryuota, for very personal reasons. She has a fetish for smells and his dog costume reeks after being used for so long without being cleaned. Ryuota isn’t good at standing up for himself so she easily bosses him around and ambushes him during breaks at school so she can get close to him, and breathe in the smells coming off him. Their strange relationship quickly escalates as she wants to do more and more intimate things with him. It goes so far as to her telling him that she loves him and that he has no hopes of being in a relationship with anyone else.
Ryuota has had a crush on a girl in class for a long time, so in order to win him over the substitute teacher has to convince him that his dreams of getting together with her are doomed. She does this by for example arranging subjects in class which will make the girl Ryuota likes say things that hurt him indirectly. It’s all part of her plan to win Ryuota over completely. Finding someone who smells just right seems to have been a problem for her, and she isn’t about to let Ryuota get away from her. The intense scenes where she’s clinging on Ryuota inhaling his smell, and the scenes where she tries to break all his hopes of a normal relationship made the series highly entertaining. After being ridiculed, ignored and not really loved by anyone but his family Ryuota has difficulty believing anyone would want to have anything to do with him. Turns out being pathetic and smelling bad might be a redeeming trait for some people. Reading a love story like this which put a novel spin on conventions was refreshing. It never copped out and decided that being “normal” would be the best way to achieve happiness. If you’re a weirdo you’ve got no choice but to embrace the strange if you’re going to be truly happy.
Being just two volumes long the story moves rapidly, and has just the right amount of story developments to fit the length. It manages to cram in quite a lot of strange and intense scenes, so going any longer than it did might have made it get old. As it is I have almost no complaints. The art could’ve been better as it’s quite barren on details and I didn’t like how some faces looked. But the story itself does what it’s supposed to and makes it an easy recommendation. It’ll only take you 30-60 minutes to read in total and will most likely turn out to be a better use of your time than just about anything else you were planning on doing.
NOTE: Kanojo wa Sore wo Gaman Dekinai has not been licensed in English and is only available as translated scans.