The story begins as Mitsuru coerces his sister into impersonating him at his all-boys school for a week so that she can pass History class for him, while he takes her place at her co-ed high school. Since Mitsuru is a brash, flirtatious athlete and Megumu, nicknamed Mego, is a shy history nerd, any reader might think that this hare-brained scheme is doomed to failure- especially since Mego knows nothing about the brawl-based social hierarchy of Akechi Boys’ High, and Mitsuru doesn’t even know the names of Mego’s otaku best friends. However, it’s a manga and somehow in this first volume, neither sibling’s cover is blown.
Some might also predict that the switch may last longer than just one week, since on the first day both of the twins meet someone that makes their heart leap. For Mego, it is her second encounter with a mysterious stranger who saved her from falling down a steep flight of stairs- he happens to be the toughest, most mysterious upperclassman at her brother’s school! Mitsuru, used to having lots of dates and adept at using his good looks and charisma to manipulate people, saves a deaf girl from being bullied by the school’s two-faced idol.
While Mego is surprised to find someone who is so intimidating yet kind and interested in hearing about her interests, Mitsuru find himself feeling more strongly about this girl than he has felt about any other, even learning sign language for her.
The most interesting part of the story is the way that the hijinks bring the brother and sister closer together, spending time and being more a part of each others’ lives than they have since they were very young. Additionally, their love stories won’t be simple, since it seems that every character who likes someone is liked by someone else!
The character designs are very interesting! Mitsuru and Mego are clearly identical (except for their hair, which they have to cover with wigs when changing places) but their personalities shine through no matter what- it’s really gratifying to be able to see, in one volume, which twin is which without a lot of prompting. Mitsuru is always upbeat and determined, while Mego is gentle and concerned for others, and this is always shown clearly in their expressions and demeanor. Even though Ikeyamada says in the introduction, “I’ve always wanted to draw a cool-but-cute character who wears a sailor uniform and fights with a bamboo sword”, which Mitsuru certainly is, it’s clear that a lot of careful thought went into the creation of these characters.
For manga fans that love romantic comedy and super cute characters, So Cute It Hurts!! is definitely worth checking out. For those that have never given manga a try, if you’re into the Shakespearean tradition of crossdressing and comedy of errors narrative, this seems like a great series to start out with!