While Oh, My Sweet Alien! might have started as a science fiction horror comedy, rooted as it is in an alien abductee’s courtship with his abductor, the manga starts in media res, with the science fiction downplayed, any potential horror redacted into The X-Files, and the emphasis firmly on the rom-com of their marriage.
However, the backstory has so much to unpack. When the couple’s origin is eventually told, we learn that the abduction is a required rite of passage, and not a peer-group rite of passage, like cow-tipping, but an expected, even institutional, rite of passage, like enrolling in selective service or dissecting a fetal pig in biology class. Dressed up in these bureaucratic clothes, alien abduction loses its hostile connotations, and when Nobuo is smitten with the alien beauty (usually referred to as The Alien Wife) expected to perform his probe (yes, yes, very Freudian), she is so intrigued by his attraction that she encourages his courtship and it progresses to marriage. In order to date and marry him, however, she must wear machine-washable human skin suits. While Nobuo is enamored of her tentacles and other vestigial, vaguely aquatic attributes, and she’s much prettier than your run-of-the-mill skin-suit alien (especially the Slitheen), she could only pass as human on a Paramount lot or at San Diego Comic-Con.
While the subgenre of this rom-com is not that typical, the subject matter definitely is, with lots of in-laws, nosy neighbors, toddler moments, and laundry snafus, all of these tropes rejuvenated by the originality of the context, and often combining them, such as when the skin suit was in the washing machine when the nosy neighbor came to the door.
However, if you were expecting a Hollywood styled rom-com with emotional crises and an intense realization of love, that would be a different manga subgenre. While there are manga that center on the confession of love, in this manga the subject is happy marriage, and the only problems that beset them are not emotional, but exterior to the relationship, such as a couple of seductive
succubi Venusians that strike out in their every outing, a babynapper that becomes a household pet, and judgy in-laws. But neither Nobou nor his wife ever have a crisis of love, or anything less than a complete certainty in their faithfulness. It’s a welcome tonic to the will they/won’t they/why don’t they die (I admit that’s my own editorial) tenor of Hollywood romances, and you may also be enthralled by a five hundred page glimpse into a connubial / marital paradise.
Which is not to say that this isn’t a sexy manga; far from it, though the mangaka, Kouji Miyata, usually chooses to depict the numerous titillating subjects through the comedic fliter, so that you’ll probably be less aroused than provoked into laughter.
While I had a few issues with Oh My Sweet Alien!, every time I laughed out loud, a criticism exploded, and consequently I have nothing negative to report. In fact, I laughed out loud nearly a dozen times during this manga, and didn’t have nearly that many problems, so I would be willing to read the next installment, if this wasn’t a complete omnibus edition. Even if it wasn’t verbally funny, I would be a fan simply for the comical, loosey-goosey line art, which felt made to order for my preference for cartoony comic styles.
Oh My Sweet Alien! arrives in stores on February 6th, 2018. You can also buy it through this list of online booksellers on the Yen Press website.
Yen Press sent the review copy.