PRETTY FACE (Puriti Feisu), by Yasuhiro Kano. First published in 2002, and first published in North America in 2007.
Masashi Rando is a karate champion and all-around badass, but he has one weakness: Rina Kurumi, the pretty, quiet beauty of his class. Rando's world is quickly turned upside-down when the bus he is riding plunges off a cliff into a flaming wreck. Rando wakes up in a hospital only to receive shock after shock.
First of all, it's been a year since the crash, and he's been unconscious the whole time. Secondly, he now looks like a girl - Rina, specifically. It turns out Rando's face was so severely burnt that Manabe, the plastic surgeon who took in him in, has nothing to use for reference save for the photo of Rina in Rando's pocket. Manabe's awfully proud of his work, though...maybe a little TOO proud, as he continuously offers to 'finish the job' and turn Rando completely into a woman. Thirdly, Rando's injuries left his family unable to identify him, and have since presumed him dead and left their home.
Rando barely has time to be despondant over his new situation once he runs into Rina on the street. Rina mistakes Rando for her missing twin sister, Yuna. Now Rando is caught between a rock and a hard area. He doesn't want to hurt Rina by revealing the mistake, but he's still a man from the waist down, and thus fears discovery, shame, and possible jailtime every time she gets near. It doesn't help that he has no experience with girls whatsoever, so the slightest glimpse or contact with girlybits or underwear sends him into blood-spurting ecstasy. Now Rando must not only pass as a woman, but as the previous meek and brainy Yuna, all while trying to not beat up TOO many people.
Pretty Face is a bizarre yet shockingly simple shonen story which is mostly goofy gonk faces and FAAAAAAANSERVICE!
Ok, so that's not completely fair, as there's something of a plotline of Rando tracking down his friends and family from his past life, as well as his pledge to not reveal his true identity until he finds the real Yuna. You'd think this would be a more prominent plot thread, where Rando might forge a new identity from the ashes of his previous one where he was an unlikeable thug. You might also think that the whole concept would serve as a sort of satire on gender roles, with 'Yuna's" brash, violent behavior serving as constrast to what others expect from 'her' as both a girl and 'Yuna.'
Of course, you'd be wrong, because as I said before, it's mostly just about broad comedy and fanservice.
Yep, this is a raunchy, episodic sort of story, where every time Rando is threatened with exposure (in both senses of the word) as a boy, saves himself through outrageous circumstance, and lives to fight another day. I hope you like lots of nosebleed and boner gags, because that's the majority of the jokes to be found here. Unfortunately, it gets to the point where that wellspring of gags starts to run dry, and the jokes become dull and repetitive. It's ultimately a fast-paced, fun and breezy sort of read, but it's not a terribly deep one, and I feel like it misses some opportunities.
The character designs are typical for a shonen work, with very generic faces and lots of pointy hair everywhere. Let's be honest, though, the characters are not the reason anyone is reading this. They're here for the bras, panties, and the 1001 ridiculous faces Rando makes. His faces are the driving force for the humor in this volume, and they are admittedly entertaing to behold. Less entertaining (at least for me) was the constant stream of lovingly detailed bras, panties, and breasts. Beyond that, the panels and presentation is rather plain and unremarkable.
There's a brief author's notes and some nicely illustrated character profiles in the back.
Pretty Face is an entertainingly raunchy sort of manga, but don't expect anything more beyond that and don't expect anything resembling good artwork.
This series was published by Viz. All 6 volumes were released, but all are currently out of print.
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