An Adult's Youth: A Merry Checker Review

Opening color illustration of Merry Checker. Depicts Shio and the lower body of Miya.
Scanlations courtesy of the Dangerous Pleasure Archive. Quotations below come from both the Dangerous Pleasure and Amrai translations, accessed via Google Drive and Mangahere.cc respectively.

Those that are familiar with Suzuki-sensei’s body of work (or at least the works translated or scanlated into English) will remember Shiomi-san as Mitsuya’s co-worker/supervisor in Sangen Tonari no Tooi Hito.

In that manga, Shiomi is your typical office worker who doesn’t know how to mind his own business about the personal lives of his colleagues. And while he does make an impression in the scenes in which he appears, Shiomi is the definition of a background character whose role is to provide expository info and have small convos with Mitsuya here and there to move the plot along. He doesn’t seem to be (or even want to be) super social with the people in his workplace besides wanting to know all the hot goss.

Merry Checker picks back up with Shiomi as our protagonist, but this time around we get a peek into his life as the blogger “Shio,” as in “salt.” We quickly learn that he’s so nosy about everyone (while also not giving enough of a shit to hang out with them) because he uses them as content for his blog, where he intensely close reads the lives and behavior of anyone and everyone. In his own words:

Regardless of how interesting the person is, it’s my hobby to speculate about people.

I don’t even know how many times I’ve read and reread this manga the past few weeks; it was my only real hope for coming up with a blog name that wasn’t completely garbage. And omg people is Shio truly the coolest fucking uke in the yaoiverse bar none. Rediscovering my love of this man has quite literally staved off my seasonal affective disorder this year.

Scan of Merry Checker manga (chapter 1, p. 5), which reads 'At lunch, I have my lunch bag and a coffee, with one hand holding my cell phone.' The image behind the text shows a close-up of Shio's hand holding his slider-style cell phone.
He's always on that phone.
Scan of Merry Checker manga (chapter 2, p. 24), which reads 'There were millions of comments wishing for me to die.' The image behind the text shows two panels: the first showing Shio leaning in to investigate his computer screen and the second showing him leaning back and laughing.
He cackles when receiving death threats online.
Scan of Merry Checker manga (chapter 2, p. 27), shows an exchange between Shio and Mitsuya, in which Shio states that '30% of [his] body is made up of processed food.'
And he's a man of refined taste.

The only real difference between Shio and myself is that his blog gets thousands of hits every day.

By far the best shit about the protag, though, is how direct he is with those around him and the fact that he clearly lives a very rich inner life--the root of why I love him so much. I could gush about Shio for literal years, so my long-winded ass is going to jump into the summary first before the structure of this post goes to absolute shit. The window below will start on the Plot Summary tab, but feel free to navigate to my actual review if you've already read this manga.

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Plot Summary

If I have to tell you there are spoilers, I don’t even know what to fuckin’ say....

Scan of Merry Checker manga (chapter 1, p. 13), showing a yaoi hand the size of Shio's face reaching in front of him.

We open up with Shio at work, turning down the office goukon for an IRL meetup with his blogger buddies. After Mitsuya judges him hardcore, Shio leaves for the day, hops on the train and--shocker--people are acting up on public transit. Some dumbass kid almost careens right into Shio, but outta nowhere an absolutely massive yaoi hand springs forth in a manner that bodes seriously ill for Shio’s butthole down the line.

The owner of said yaoi hand is a fucking leviathan (i.e. tall as fuck), but turns out to be a gentle giant with a soothing effect on those around him. After saving our main man from public transpo kids, everyone in the train car is smiling and offering to help each other out… being the cynic he is, Shio is like “wtf is this shit?”

Whatever--Shio gets to the rendezvous point for the IRL meetup and three dudes are already there. They’re waiting for the last person, “the net’s current darling,” Miya-san, who runs a blog where she shares snippets of her YA novel and generally acts cute.

I guess tits or gtfo never hit Japan because no one demands proof that she’s actually a woman online and everyone daydreams about how cute/pretty she must be. Shio peeps the giant dude from the train again and has an epiphany: MIYA-SAN IS A MAN. He’s right--Miya is the train dude. Chaos ensues.

Scan of Merry Checker manga (chapter 1, p. 26), showing the bloggers at Shio's IRL meetup as they react to the discovery that one of them is a man instead of a woman.
Give my regards to your wilting boners, losers! xoxo

Shio ends up crashing at Miya’s place and wakes up in bed with him. Unlike the common “holy shit we accidentally fucked” BL trope, the two aren’t nude, they actually didn’t do anything, and neither tries to manipulate the other into thinking something happened. Shio is shocked to discover that he’s not creeped out by sleeping in the same bed with Miya, which foreshadows how shocked he is that he actively likes Miya as a person and wants to hang out with him all the time.

The men strike up an IRL friendship, which mostly involves going shopping together and renting videos to watch while they get shitfaced at Miya’s house. Each time Shio stays over he wakes up in Miya’s bed the next day, even after they openly talk about how Miya is in love with him. Shio actually starts to catch feelings, too, but he has an amazing poker face and comes off as a super easy going straight guy who’s chill about another man’s crush on him. In reality, he was already feelin’ Miya romantic-styles for a minute.

One night, Shio decides to take their relationship to the next level because his seme isn’t exactly the type to play offense. To heat things up, he starts acting bitchy about how Miya “probably treat[s] everyone this nicely.” When Miya asks Shio if he’s bothered that he’s nice to other people, Shio prompts a makeout sesh by saying:

I’m not going to say something I know you’d read too much into.

In other words, “it does piss me off, but I don’t want you to think I’m in love with you or anything (even though I am).”

Happy end: the two have sex and start going out.

Author's notes

This review was originally posted to WordPress on November 15, 2019. Post content was converted from its original format and made viewable to netizens as version 2.0.1 on February 20, 2022.

Version 2.0.1 includes light edits and removal of one inline image deemed non-essential. Long story short, I was struggling to wrap text around figures in the tab div while managing their viewport size in this CSS.

XP.css was adapted for use here on February 19, 2022 with further edits completed on June 1, 2022. See Credits tab above for more details.

xoxo Shio

P.S. I look more like Shio's hand-drawn picture of girl!Miya than Shio IRL.