It’s taken a while for Japanese publishers to get anywhere close to the idea of free online manga, but we’re finally getting somewhere. There’s Grand Jump (from Shueisha, the same publisher as Shounen Jump), which releases a few of their titles online every month for a limited time, and the decently popular Onepunch Man comes from another Shueisha site, Tonari no Young Jump. Now, while One Punch man gets all of the attention, I do want to point to a different title on there I enjoy, the 4-koma manga f ningyo, by G3 Ida.
It’s a comedy about a fujoshi mermaid.
More specifically, it’s about a mermaid named Mero whose only conception of the human world comes from yaoi manga, so to her the surface is just teeming with guy on guy action. She’s discovered by a marine biologist named Tsubsa Reiji who’s far more interested in fish than women, and in order to keep this research a secret he tells everyone that she’s his girlfriend (her fins turn to feet when away from water for prolonged periods). The two other recurring characters are the scientist’s student, and his childhood friend, whom the mermaid sees as the scientist’s lover and a fellow fujoshi, respectively. Given the white lies and misconceptions on their parts, the foundation of the series’ humor comes from everybody misunderstanding each others’ words and intentions, sort of like Minami-ke. When she first introduces herself to Reiji, Mero tells him that she’s clearly not human because she has no balls.
Even though the fujoshi-based humor is funny, two of my favorite jokes from the manga don’t even really have to do with that angle. The first is when Reiji’s friend, who has a crush on him, is extremely suspicious of his claims that the beautiful girl in his office is his girlfriend and decides to test him. She shows him a porn magazine, zero response. Then she follows up with a magazine about aquatic life and he immediately perks up.
The second is when they’re all out at a festival, and the mermaid gets the chance to eat some fried squid. Being from the sea, she remarks that she’s only ever eaten raw squid before (which she would literally catch and bite into live), but the friend misinterprets her words as those of an incredibly well-to-do woman of luxury, i.e. “I only ever eat squid sashimi.”
Unfortunately, I think this manga has a lot less chance of being released in English like One Punch Man has been. That said, it is the second most popular manga on Tonari no Young Jump, so maybe there’s hope after all.