Instant Teen: Just Add Nuts

Review covers all of the volumes released so far

When you were younger, did you ever wish that you could grow up more quickly? Well, not me. What’s wrong with being young? But growing up quickly is the concept of the Instant Teen Manga.

A young girl called Natsumi has a crush on a hair stylist who is at least twice her age, but is heartbroken when he doesn’t pay her any attention.

Immediately after being rejected, she finds a magic bean lab-produced nut that transforms her into a beautiful woman, with the ability to hit on the man that she secretly had a crush on.

If that sounds a little bit silly, then let me assure you that Instant Teen is deliberately trying to be very silly. I mean, Tokyopop have even gone so far as to design the cover to look like a serial packet.

I really couldn’t take this Manga seriously whatsoever.

Okay, so a scientist accidental loses something that gives some sort of special power. And just by chance a child picks it up and uses it. Said scientist then pops in to help whenever the plot demands it, but otherwise stays out the way.

Why should I believe someone would develop a drug that’s aimed at turning young children into teenagers for a few hours? There would probably be a market for it, but how much money do little children have exactly?

Were it the other way around then maybe I’d understand; I’m sure lots of people would pay good money to relive their childhood. A series where a character got the ability to relive their youth, now that would be more interesting. Oh, but I guess that’s been done quite a lot. Maybe it’s better to be unbelievable but different, than believable but samey.

If you’re after something that’s silly and don’t mind if it’s a little lacking in sustenance then you might enjoy Instant Teen. But there’s a not-so-fine line between "trying to be silly" and "putting almost zero thought into explaining the setup".

Rarely in a Comic does a character pick up an ability without there being a good reason behind it, and the stories are always the more interesting for that. But the whole "nut" thing here feels like a quickly thought-out excuse to enable the author’s idea.

Not that it was a bad idea; there were some good aspects to Instant Teen. It looks like the author was trying to avoid an Episodic format for the comic which these types of stories so often fall into. Natsumi and her friend Asuma have an interesting and believable relationship, or at least believable given the circumstances anyway, which evolves as the story goes on and was the main thing which kept me reading.

Towards the end of the book there’s a weird "bump" in the plot, where things almost wrap up but are then suddenly sparked off again, and Natsumi and Asuma’s relationship suddenly completely changes. I can’t help but shake the suspicion that most of the first book was actually a pilot for the Manga, which was stitched straight on to the rest of the series as work resumed.

But not that it was for anything, as Tokyopop seem to have stopped translating this after the first book. So, one volume is all we’re getting. Which seems a little unfair on the series, as despite my criticisms I could see the writing slowly getting better; if it had continued it might have grabbed a better score off of me.