Me, Myself, and I: Sexual Politics Inside Mari’s Body-swap Narrative

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When it comes to depicting adolescent struggles with sexuality, Oshimi Shuuzou is by no means a stranger with the sexually-charged Flowers of Evil laying waste to youthful idealism and schema precariously constructed, les fleurs du mal flourishing amidst the vestiges of innocence. His marked cynicism suffusing traditionalist narratives is something to be commended, and the same can certainly be said for his take on the body-swap genre and all of its established conventions. Ostensibly Boku wa Mari no Naka or Inside Mari appears to be yet another bawdy offering running the orthodox gamut, a relatively light-hearted piece about what girls and boys are made of. Isao is a NEET, days filled with video games and masturbation blurring into one. Having long since dropped out of university, the only ray of light in the darkness that is his life would be the angelic Mari. Admiring her from a distance through stalking allows Isao to momentarily forget how much of a failure he has become, and expects nothing to change… That is, until Mari turns around with an enigmatic smile and Isao wakes up in her body.

It’s a set-up which does little to destabilize the genre’s turgid whiff of homogeneity, all fidgeting in girls’ locker rooms and groping others a display of routine titillation. But true to Oshimi’s contemptuous model Inside Mari quickly takes on disturbing connotations as boundaries blur, challenging the genre and all its expected conceits once Isao peers into Mari’s impervious psyche.

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