Inside Mari – Manga review

Inside Mari - Mari and Komori

Bad things can happen when you stalk a weird girl

winter15-highw What the hell is this? Highway doesn’t do manga reviews! Well, truth is that I haven’t really read a lot of manga, but for some reason in the past half-year or so I’ve been reading a few. So maybe I’ll throw out a few of these reviews, especially if it’s a work that is unlikely to get an anime. And the first one is Boku wa Mari no Naka, known in english as Inside Mari. This will probably end up a bit of a spoilery review, so if you’re interested in reading it but want to know nothing about it, then go read it!

What If You Wake Up As Someone Else?

Inside Mari - Following

She knows he’s following her, but why does she let him?

The main conceit of Inside Mari is suddenly waking up in someone else’s body. This story by Shuuzou Oshimi, who will probably forever be known as “The Aku no Hana (Flowers of Evil) guy,” is actually a later work to Aku no Hana, and overlapped its publication by a couple of years. But unlike that much maligned work, this one seems to temper the personalities of the main characters a lot more. One of my biggest issues with Aku no Hana wasn’t that the characters were kinda shitty people. It was that they were so stupid! If there was the wrong move to make, they made it without fail. The wrong decision? That was the way they would go. It gets wearing to see people make that kind of decision again and again.

Inside Mari - The Change

A Decision is made

But in Inside Mari there is a lot less of that kind of idiocy. The people are not really shitty people, but they’re not angels, at all. And that is a bit of the initial tension. Isao Komori is, for all intents and purposes, a college dropout. He has spent the last 3 years spending his parents money while telling them he goes to college, and lives as a hikikomori NEET in his apartment. But he goes out every day to the combini, where he sees his “convenience store angel.” Coming in every night at 9 to buy chocolate and a drink, she leaves and Komori follows her, every night for a year, through any weather. He never talks to her, never even sees any acknowledgement of his existence. Until this night, when she stops and looks at him over her shoulder. And with no further memories, he wakes up inside this girl.

What If There’s No Going Back?

Inside Mari - End Of Old Life

Things don’t go well with Mari’s “friends”, including Momoka

Now the normal thing that happens when you have a body switching story is finding the person you switched with, and trying to figure out how to switch back. And Komori does give this a try, but it becomes obvious that that convention is just not applicable here. Isao Komori still exists, and is still the same person, now very confused because his convenience store angel is now saying that she is him. But Mari is not the same person, something that becomes obvious very quickly. Komori doesn’t know anything about her, and can’t pull off being her. How can he interact with her friends, who don’t come across as the genuine crowd? And as the mistakes pile up, he is finally exposed, not by Mari’s ‘friends’, but by Yori Kakiguchi, a girl who most definitely was NOT one of Mari’s friends before.

Inside Mari - Discovered

Outed by the one who watched Mari the most

The story has so far kept the cast fairly tight, not introducing many new people, and going back to the ones we know frequently. And as you can imagine in a story by Oshimi, it’s not the happiest of lives that any of them are living in. Did Mari actually want to leave her life? Where did she go? Is she still inside the body that’s being run by Komori? And how will Mari’s life change now that she’s, essentially, a different person? These are the themes that the manga is going through in the 75 chapters that are out now.

Cover Image (Somewhat NSFW and long)

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I’ve really enjoyed the psychological aspects of this story so far. The story does not frivolously indulge in ecchi setups at all. In fact Komori, in his efforts to protect Mar, since he had every intention of returning her to her own body, resisted even looking at ‘her’ for a long time, much less touching or exploring, although that eventually breaks down. Some of the realities of being a girl hit him pretty hard, tho, as you can imagine, but the story doesn’t make fun of this anywhere, nor overplay the seriousness of it. It’s a fairly heavy story, but it doesn’t weigh down the experience of reading it, or make you want to stop. If you’re looking for “Guy becomes a girl, hijinks ensue!” wackiness, this isn’t where to go. But if you’re interested in “what happens when I become someone else, exchanging my crappy life for theirs, and just happen to switch genders”, then this might be something you should try. It’s currently being simulpub’d on Crunchyroll for Manga subscribers, so you can catch up to the currently published volume.


Proving that you don't have to be young to love anime, I enjoy all genres and styles of shows. If it's not hurting anyone else, you should never be ashamed of what you like!
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2 Responses to “Inside Mari – Manga review”

  1. Overcooled says:

    I never got far into Aku no Hana, but I’d be willing to give this one a shot. Your post didn’t seem too spoilery so I think I’ll still run into a lot of surprises while reading it.

    I can’t wait to see how he deals with being on his period though. The cramps..!! (And it seems less like his reaction would be like a wacky comedy where he’d just freak out and then joke about it, but nonetheless, should be a fun reaction to see)

    Do more manga reviews! I’m so behind on manga news that I never know what’s good.

    • Highway says:

      Yeah, I couldn’t get too much into Aku no Hana, because as I said all the people were just so stupid. But in Inside Mari they really don’t make those kind of stupid mistakes. They make what seem to be reasonable decisions based on available information, which is all that I think you can ask of characters. I think you especially would like the story, given where our interests intersect.

      They do deal pretty well with Mari getting her period (I tend to think of the character as Mari, even if she claims she’s Komori, since it doesn’t use switching back and forth as a plot point or device). I found it especially good given a presumed historic lack of interest on the part of a 20-year old Japanese boy on any aspects of feminine hygiene. And no it’s not comedy, there’s very little of anything that could be called comedy in the story, but it also doesn’t beat you up with despair.

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