[REVIEW] Secretary’s Job? by Miki Araya

secretary's job coverSecretary’s Job? (秘書のお仕事?) by Miki Araya (新也美樹) · Licensed in English by Juné

From the Blurb

Adorable and super-talented Takase is the star secretary of his company! His reputation’s been built on his amazing ability to make anyone he works with a success…but what will happen when he’s assigned to the lazy son of the big boss? Can a prodigy improve the reputation of a handsome slacker?

Secretary’s Job works overtime to prove that good-looks and charisma go a long way in the workplace! It’s lots of fun to tackle meetings with the company’s best employee, but will a professional relationship cross the line once sweet, surprising feelings come to light?

Commentary

secretary's job1I’m generally a sucker for secreatry-themed manga (and smut in general, I’ll be honest), so I made my first foray into buying licensed e-manga a while ago with Secretary’s Job? by Miki Araya. I’ve enjoyed some of her work in the past (particularly Uchi no Darling Gaikokujin), and this was also billed as a comedy/romance. In reality, though, it’s more a breezy and chatty collection of story arcs centered around the office workers in a fictitious company. I found I had to almost force myself to get through the first story, whose Mary Sue ‘supersecretary’ character was more wearing than cute much of the time. I enjoyed the comedy-of-errors style of the second story a lot more, but I had to keep asking myself — if this is office/secretary yaoi manga, where is the desk sex? Why aren’t the characters using those everpresent and aways empty archive rooms to get down and dirty? Instead we get lots of meetings with amiable older gentlemen clients who all fawn over Takase until you find yourself wishing this was an assassin manga instead. (Guess who I wish was the target?)

Much of the time it also felt like the manga-ka was checking off plot boxes in her head: couple initially misundertsand one another, they slowly warm to each other, sex happens, the characters say “I love you” with unrealistic swiftness and (a distinctly Japanese touch) the office experiences a new wave of productivity. Not that good stories shouldn’t contain many of these elements, but when they’re written in so baldly it’s hard for the reader to feel suspense — let alone interest.

secretary's job2On the technical side, I didn’t enjoy reading the manga on the Kindle app. While reading it on my iPad was much less painful than squinting at my MacBook’s screen, the publisher only scanned low-quality photographs of the manga, so whenever I zoomed in to read some of the smaller text everything looked cheap and pixellated. Never mind that the Kindle can’t automatically zoom in on the whole manga, and it was too annoying to do it manually every time I turned the page. I love the idea of being able to download licensed manga in English and read it on the go, but it looks like publishers are going to need to work harder at making the actual reading experience as good as with their printed editions.

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