Unfortunately, most girls will have to deal with harassment from men at some point. Though wishing not to be bothered by creepy guys, sexual harassment is a common experience, especially for young women. But what if the harasser could get a taste of his own medicine? What if he switches lives with her, and sees how it really feels like to be a woman? This theme is explored in this manga review of Inside Mari by Shuzo Oshimi.
If you are familiar with his other popular manga series The Flowers of Evil, you may know what you could expect from this author. Shuzo loves delving into deep psychological realms that, while honest, can make you squirm at times with its honesty. This emotional frankness is the reason why his manga series are such page-turners, and Inside Mari is no exception to that.
Shut-in Nerd Turned Teenage Girl?!
Our story stars Komori, a 20-something college drop out and Hikikomori (shut in). While tricking his parents into sending their supposed student son money, he instead spends his days playing video games and watching porno. Everything seems to be going downhill in Komori’s life as he follows a dark path.
However, there is one excitement in his life that motivates him to leave his house everyday. That excitement is Mari, a beautiful teenage girl. Komori doesn’t know this girl, but has developed a parasocial relationship with her where he waits for her at the convenience store the same time everyday. He then proceeds to stalk her as she walks home. Komori is truly hopeless and awful for stalking this teenage girl, but then suddenly…
A Different Perspective?
…Komori wakes up the next day, and he realizes he is inside Mari’s body!! He is completely shocked: how could he have switched bodies with Mari? He feels confused and even guilty, like he doesn’t have the right to be inside her body. While changing clothes he refuses to look down, and even while using the bathroom he covers his ears so he can’t hear what’s going on.
Though Komori tries to play along in order to not ruin Mari’s life, he has a hard time adjusting to living life as a teenage girl. Even trying to talk to friends or sit down in a chair is a challenge (His instinct is to spread his legs while sitting, not the best idea while wearing a mini skirt). Everything about being in her body is completely disorienting. He has to find Mari, existing now in his body, and figure out how to swap bodies back to normal. However, there is a little dilemma with this…
But, Where Did Mari Go…?
Komori goes to face Mari who should be existing in his body. However, when he meets his body at the same old convenience store, this “Komori” has no idea what he’s talking about. Though Komori thinks Mari is inside his body, he realizes that there is a second “Komori” inside his original body, living life like normal. If Mari isn’t in his original body, then where did Mari go…?
And though Komori tries to live on in Mari’s body like everything is normal, he can’t fool everyone. A girl named Yori, one of Mari’s classmates, approaches the body-swapped Komori. She demands to know where Mari has gone. Now with the secret out, the two set out to find where Mari has really disappeared to. And thus, this intense and intimate body-swapped story continues.
Getting A Glimpse Inside Mari’s Life
Remember how at the beginning we discuss what it may be like if a male harasser gets to experience life inside of those he’s harassed? In the Inside Mari manga, we get to delve into Komori’s experience as now men are leering at Mari’s body or crossing uncomfortable boundaries. He has never had to experience these things in his life, and he becomes completely flustered. He yells inside his head, “Don’t look at Mari-san!” despite the fact he used to do the exact same things.
There is a more intense case of sexual harassment delved into later in the story which I won’t spoil here, but these experiences make him feel humiliated. Though this is not the main focus of the story, these details add an extra layer of richness in order to paint Mari’s and Komori’s shared experience. Maybe once he gets his body back, he’ll think twice before stalking random girls.
I got to finish all 8 volumes of the series, and it is a truly suspenseful ride all the way to the end. Shuzo Oshimi is great at making some page-turning comics, so if you’re interested in stories about body swapping or psychology relating to gender and sexuality, I highly recommend Inside Mari.
You can pick up the first volume on Amazon here. If you haven’t already read is other work The Flowers of Evil, a omnibus version of the manga is now available which you can pick up here. Once finished with Inside Mari, why not purify your soul with some shoujo manga? Read my review of Daytime Shooting Star here. I hope you enjoyed my manga review of Inside Mari! What’s your favorite body-swap story? Let us know in the comments below, and thanks for reading! 🙂