What if you swapped bodies? What if you found yourself in the body of the person you most admired, the “angel-like” school idol who you pass every night (and possibly stalk)? Well that’s what life has install for Komori Isao, a hikikomori who lives for no one else but himself, playing games and masturbating endlessly on repeat. Until he becomes Mari of course.
If anyone has heard of Oshimi Shuuzou, it’s undoubtedly for his notorious manga-turned-anime Aku no Hana. So don’t be surprised about the fact the Oshimi Trio are back again- angel, devil and the boy in the middle of nowhere- potentially to take apart the idea of a perfect angel, once again.
Oshimi explores gender expectations, and the complex fabric of social hierarchy and friendships, which Komori must now maintain as Mari. Moreover, Oshimi utilises the “body swap” to question the idea of self- at one point the protagonist admits they are no longer either Isao or Mari, but Mari-Isao. A character with both the memories and minds of Isao and Mari. Through the double lens of Mari-Isao, the original “Isao” is able to gain deeper insights into the world and into relationships, that they would not have been able to make, if not for the unbelievable situation.
Inside Mari is an interesting twist on the body swap trope, that provides commentary on social and philosophical issues. However, I would warn readers that it contains nudity, sexual scenes and suggestions of abuse, in case that is something you would like to avoid.
Inside Mari is available to read on Crunchyroll premium member and is still currently being published in Japan. Fan translations can also be found online.
Extra: From what I have read, in the manga and on forums, I believe Inside Mari is also an exploration of psychological issues and mental disorders.
Extra: I think the characters are better fleshed out than in Aku no Hana, however, that may just be the skewered perception of my memories. I think Aku No Hana was very impressionistic- it created direct and forceful scenes that were vivid and playful, deviant and repulsive. There are less explosive moments in Inside Mari, it speaks to you more directly (or so I feel).
I agree with other fans who say that Inside Mari is Aku No Hana graduated. Although again, the fallibility of memory.