BACTERIA TO SCHOOL
Tadayasu is a new, fresh-faced university student hiding a bizarre secret: He can see germs with the naked eye. Between the machinations of an eccentric professor determined to unlock the power of the microbial world and the doomed agricultural experiments of his fellow students, will Tadayasu ever find the cool college atmosphere he so desires?
The typical manga situation of a young man ready to experience life as he goes away to college is made unique through some very odd characters, starting with the lead. Tadayasu can see and touch bacteria, unaided, and even talk to them; his talents either save the day or get him involved with those who want to exploit him. The title, which loosely means “mold cultivator,” describes his family business, supplying starter cultures to make fermented products. As he struggles to start his career at an agricultural college, he's surrounded by oddballs: his professor gleefully manipulates those around him and has a fetish for the most disgusting, bacteria-created “foods” (such as decaying seabirds buried inside a dead seal for months). The older student guide dresses like she's about to go club-hopping as a sexy goth. Most strangely, there's a whole flock of tiny little germs as supporting cast. The book's twisted sense of humor is reinforced by various marginal notes that explain the germs he sees or to provide the author's apologies. Favorite scenes feature disgusting college rooms, teeming with Tadayasu's little friends; it's gross-out humor, but gentle and inventive. (Sept.)