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Portrait of M & N: Volume 1    by Tachibana Higuchi order for
Portrait of M & N
by Tachibana Higuchi
Order:  USA  Can
TOKYOPOP, 2010 (2010)
*   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Tachibana Higuchi's Portrait of M & N is more than your standard high school romance shojo manga. Higuchi delves deep into the mindsets of the two main characters, Mitsuru and Natsuhiko, exploring their hidden natures.

Mitsuru is looking forward to starting a new life in high school and putting her past behind her. However, her good looks do nothing to endear her to her classmates. The only one who ends up giving her the time of day is loner Natsuhiko, who soon learns Mitsuru's darkest secret - she is a masochist.

Natsuhiko, however, also has a secret hidden behind his strong glasses: he is really a narcissist. Together, they form a tenuous friendship based on their secrets a friendship that is put to the test when an older student discovers what Mitsuru has been hiding.

Higuchi takes the reader deep into the minds of both Mitsuru and Natsuhiko, making Portrait of M & N a little more wordy than most manga. However, the artwork is not overshadowed by the verbiage as its darkness adds to the secrecy shared by the two main characters. Yet, in some places - mainly with Mitsuru - Higuchi's art is a little uneven, quickly taking the reader out of the story.

Portrait of M & N includes a bonus story, A Girl in a Birdcage. Though interesting, the plot in this short is rather confusing at times as the main character changes her mind rather quickly. However, Tachibana Higuchi's art is much more consistent in this story than in the main tale, and much more what Gakuen Alice fans would expect from this manga-ka.

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