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Manga / Inside Mari

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Inside Mari (Boku wa Mari no Naka) is a manga by Shuzo Oshimi (author of The Flowers of Evil and Welcome Back, Alice), which ran in Manga Action from 2012 to 2016.

The manga tells the story of Isao Komori, a recluse shut-in with no social life whatsoever who spends most of his time playing video games. He is also in love with a young schoolgirl he usually sees when he goes to the convenience store to buy food, but since he is too shy to talk to her, Isao prefers to stalk her while she is walking home. Then, one day, he suddenly finds himself in the body of Mari Yoshizaki, the very girl he is so fond of stalking.

The story deconstructs body swap stories by showing that an actual body swap would probably be utterly terrifying to the victims.

Inside Mari can be read on Crunchyroll.

Inside Mari provides examples Of:

  • Abusive Parents: Or at least neglectful, playing with this trope.
    • Mari's parents at first seem, well, like parents, but it soon becomes clear that Mari's mother is dismissive of Mari's wants or needs and either treats her as a trophy, a possession or a burden depending upon how broken Mari happens to be at the moment. Mari's mother may have done her psychological harm with her excessive expectations and by messing with her identity by changing her name in a jealous attempt to disassociate her from her deceased grandmother.
    • As for Mari's father, he's usually at work, and seems to be actively avoiding dealing with any turmoil at home. He stays late at work while Mari is catatonic and her mother is complaining she can't do it alone.
  • All Men Are Perverts: Isao/Mari is subjected to this often.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Mari, who purchases dirty magazines full of girls, rejects every boy who asks her out, and is implied to have been the one that kissed Yori.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Played straight with Yori, as her older sister has just about had it with her angsty teenager behavior. Averted with Mari's little brother, who is genuinely worried about her.
  • Bat Deduction: One of the girls in the school, Yori Kakiguchi, correctly deduces that someone else is inside Mari's body because the Unresolved Sexual Tension was suddenly missing from their relationship.
  • Bishie Sparkle: Chapter seventy-seven displays this during a flashback from Mari's point of view as we see how Mari initially saw Isao. This is in stark contrast to both the fact that she was watching Isao as he masturbated and nearly everyone in this sequence looking like creatures out of Attack on Titan.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Isao/Mari certainly must seem like one to Yori when he (temporarily) rejects her in favor of the "in crowd" Momoka represents, believing he's protecting Mari's reputation.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Mari and Yori don't end up together and part ways after graduating high school, but Mari at least seems like she's in a better place mentally and emotionally after her ordeal. Additionally, the fact that her parents are seen together at the end seems to suggest that the family may at least be trying to work through their issues. The real Komori also seems to be doing better after having moved back in with his parents.
  • Body Snatcher: Isao wakes up in Mari's body unable to remember how it happened.
  • Broken Bird: Yori, due to her Friendless Background and unrequited crush on Mari. But not nearly as much as Mari, who proves to be so thoroughly broken that she may have adopted the identity of a pathetic ''hikikomori'' in exchange for her own.
  • Calling the Old Man Out:
    • Isao/Mari does this to Mari's parents after they begin viciously arguing over Mari's not going to school and end up verbally attacking one another.
    • Yori does this on Mari's behalf in chapter 66, when Mari's mother reveals that she changed Mari's name because her original name wasn't the one she had wanted for her daughter. Yori accuses her of seeing Mari as a doll for her to dress up rather than as a person.
  • Cassandra Truth: Isao/Mari to both Mari's parents and to himself. Only Yori knows that he is not the true Mari. Played with in reference to the other Isao, who pretends to believe Isao/Mari in order to keep Mari coming to spend time with him.
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: Isao catches himself doing it. Isao-in-Mari's-body walks in on himself masturbating on the toilet, after being aroused by Mari's body. He then tells himself to continue while he's watching. It's a really weird situation.
  • Covert Pervert: Mari was secretly buying the porn magazines that Isao was selling to a local used bookstore.
  • Decoy Protagonist: First Isao, then Mari... the true protagonist is Yori.
  • Despair Event Horizon: For Isao/Mari, it's being kissed by a boy. For Mari herself, it's confronting her suppressed memories of her past as Fumiko.
  • Empty Shell: Following the flashback revealing Mari's memories as Fumiko, Mari develops a fever and becomes catatonic. She will not speak, move, or even eat unless fed. Yori refers to her in this state as "empty."
  • False Friend: Momoka and her group appear to be false friends to Mari... but it becomes increasingly obvious that Mari may have a persecution complex and her viewpoint is not to be trusted. But there is little doubt that Mari must choose between Yori and the "in crowd" Momoka represents.
  • Foreshadowing: When Isao/Mari gets a call from Mari, the voice he hears crackles strangely over the phone. Later, it's revealed that it wasn't Mari at all; it was the other Isao, recording his voice on his computer and changing the pitch to make himself sound like Mari, so that Isao/Mari would continue visiting him.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Isao initially suspects he's exchanged bodies with Mari, but this trope is quickly subverted when we learn Mari is not occupying Isao's body.
  • Friendless Background: Isao and Yori. Isao wanted to be the School Idol but didn't attempt to make friends, while Yori has been bullied.
  • Gayngst: Mari appears to have been hiding her orientation, but Yori proved to be her Closet Key. It's implied that Mari split off Isao/Mari's personality to disassociate the lesbianism "idol" Mari can't accept.
  • Gender Bender: Isao's mind somehow ended up in a younger girl's body. Eventually, it turns out there never was a body-swap in the first place.
  • Gender Bender Angst: Isao is horrified of being in Mari's body and tries to avoid looking at it naked due to the consent issues. When Isao has his first period, he hates it.
  • Grand Theft Me: For Isao, the change is mostly terrifying. He doesn't know how he came to occupy Mari's body, doesn't know how to act when Mari's friends are around, and is afraid that he will ruin her social life. This trope is later subverted when we learn that this person in Mari's body was never "Isao", just part of Mari imitating the real Isao.
  • Hikikomori: Isao is a classic example: unable to cope with intense (but largely self-imposed) pressure to succeed and his inability to make friends, he hides away in his dingy apartment playing video games.
  • Important Haircut: Real-world Isao gets a buzz cut at the point where it becomes clear that Isao/Mari is a split personality.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: How Yori and Isao initially view Mari. Naturally, the whole story is a Deconstruction.
  • Jerkass: Isao deliberately lies to his family about his life in order keep their financial support. He tells them that he is attending college while he spends his day playing video games and seldom leaves his apartment.
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: This occurs in chapter 67, with Komori, Mari, and Fumiko.
  • Just Woke Up That Way: Isao/Mari's view of his apparent body-snatching.
  • Last-Name Basis:
    • Mari and Yori only refer to Isao (and Isao/Mari) as Komori. Isao's use of Yori and Mari's first names is quite presumptuous.
    • Mari and Yori were also on a last name basis, which worries Yori when a very sleepy Mari switches back to "Kakiguchi-san".
  • Loser Protagonist: Isao and later Mari, who may have looked like an idol to Isao and Yori but turns out to have been concealing unsavory personal issues and mental illness. Later subverted with Isao, who takes a job at the convenience store as a first step towards getting his life back.
  • Man, I Feel Like a Woman: Subverted. Isao is not happy to be in Mari's body.]]
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Is Isao really in Mari, or is Mari just delusional? Nothing in the setup or early story line definitively contradicts either interpretation, but later events prove it's the latter.
  • Mind Screw: Is Isao really in Mari's body, or is she suffering from a dissociative personality disorder? Isao/Mari is just as confused as the audience after the Wham Episode revelations.
  • Multi-Gendered Split Personalities: There's a recurring ambiguity whether Isao actually exists and had his mind put in Mari's body or is just her split personality. Ultimately, it's proven the Isao "inside Mari" is a constructed personality, and not even the only one, but is based on a real Isao.
  • Nightmare Face: Mari's mother is prone to frightening faces in later chapters when she gets mad.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted. Yori's elder sister is also named Mari with no apparent special significance attached to it.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: Mari would never say the word "cute." This is how Yori figures out it's not Mari. This later becomes a recurring point concerning Fumiko's name change, and how her mom thought she liked it because it was a "cute" name.
  • Out-of-Clothes Experience: Chapter 78 features an internal conversation between Isao, Mari, and Fumiko, all of whom are naked as they confirm that Isao and Mari are, in fact, constructed personalities.
  • P.O.V. Cam:
    • The Fumiko scenes are shown in first-person view. The only time we see Fumiko herself is when she is looking at something that casts a reflection, such as a mirror.
    • Chapter seventy-seven shows how Mari viewed her life shortly before Isao entered the picture. In the course of this, we see Mari's classmates as filthy creatures with either the top half or the bottom half of their faces obscured, her father turned away and transparent, her mother looking positively grotesque, Mari's reflection looking like childish scribbling, and Isao surrounded by Bishie Sparkles even as Mari's watching him masturbate. The only one who looks normal at all is her younger brother.
  • School Idol:
    • Mari was one prior to her possession by Isao. She was a popular, straight-A student respected by her classmates. There are hints that this might just be a facade she wears to hide her true feelings.
    • Isao wanted to be one during his High School years and thought people would flock to him if he became a model student. His hopes were shattered when he succeeded, only to find himself lonely and without friends. This led him to quit school altogether and become a shut-in hikikomori.
  • Stepford Smiler: Quite a few characters show this tendency, particularly Mari's mother. Isao/Mari is forced into this role by his circumstances. It's later revealed that Mari herself may have been a Stepford Smiler all along.
  • Shared Universe: With The Flowers of Evil.
  • Shout-Out: At the very beginning, Isao can be seen playing Dark Souls.
  • Split Personality: Mari appears to have three: Isao/Mari, Stepford Smiler (Idol) Mari, and little Fumiko
  • Split-Personality Takeover: Played with. Assuming Isao/Mari was a dissociative personality, Mari waking up as Isao plays it straight and Mari making him vanish in chapter 61 inverts it. Double Subverted in chapter 67 when Idol Mari appears to abandon her mind to Isao/Mari, taking little Fumiko with her. Eventually played straight when Mari's personality re-integrates with the "Isao" aspect in the lead.
  • Spotting the Thread:
    • Chapter 42 ends with Yori noticing Isao/Mari saying something that only Yori and Mari could have known.
    • Happens later on when Isao/Mari kisses Yori, and states that he felt as if his body was moving on its own.
    • Becomes definitive when Isao allows Mari to read his journal which proves Isao/Mari can only be a disssociative personality, because Mari didn't even know Isao kept a journal.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Isao at the beginning of the story. This is not played for laughs.
  • Stalker without a Crush: Isao and Yori investigate the real Mari and learn she was stalking Isao in return and may have learned enough to develop a Split Personality based on him.
  • There Are No Therapists: Played with: Mari supposedly has a therapist off-screen, but he's either indifferent to Mari's condition or in thrall to her mother's viewpoint.
  • Transformation Comic: The story starts out as a Deconstruction of Gender Bender manga before it morphs into something entirely different.
  • Unnamed Parent: Subverted with Mari's mother. A note by her revealed her name is "Eriko".
  • Webcomic Time: The series ran from 2012 to 2016, and takes place entirely in the year it was released. Mari was born in 1995 but is a high school student.
  • Wham Episode: We learn that Mari used to be named Fumiko.
  • Wham Line:
    • "Let's lie down here together again sometime." It refers to what Mari said to Yori when they met one day in the nurse's office. While Yori had mentioned this moment once in passing, she didn't mention that detail and there is no way Isao could have known it.
    • "Let's stop doing this. This "me inside of Mari-san stuff". It's all a lie, isn't it?" Isao says this to Yori when he becomes fed up of her talking about that. He points out how illogical the concept is.
    • Yori's "Who is Fumiko?" prompts a very sour, twisted expression from Mari's mother.
    • In chapter 70, Mari refers to Yori as "Kakiguchi-san" after asking Yori to sleep in her bed with her. Mari was on a Last-Name Basis with Yori, unlike Isao-as-Mari.

Alternative Title(s): Boku Wa Mari No Naka