A mysterious very young thief- a Man of Many Faces review

Akira, Utako and Akira's mothers

Akira, Utako and Akira’s mothers

   By day nine year old Akira Ijuyin is a normal student at Clamp School, but at night he becomes the mysterious thief 20 Masks. His thefts are usually subject to the whims of his two stepmothers, which Akira pulls off without any true objections or interactions. One night Akira ducks into the room of five year old Utako Ōkawa in an attempt to hide from the police.
Although the pair shares a four year age difference, they find themselves quickly falling for each other even as Akira finds himself being increasingly more involved with thefts, some of which include Utako’s family. This as well as several other obstacles give the young couple’s budding relationship a fair amount of difficulty.

Shigata, Akira's uncle, and Kobayashi

Shigata, Akira’s uncle, and Kobayashi

It’s cute and funny; the kawaii factor is brought up from the main couple and the comedic relief comes mainly from the interaction between Akira’s uncle and Kobayashi, who wants to catch the 9-year-old Tuxedo Kamen, who fights to … please his two mothers. Yes, two and identical. And although they are adults, they rarely behave like ones. It’s their whims that put Akira in difficult position and instead of taking care of their son, it’s their son who takes care of them. But they sure add a pleasant, crazy flavor in the series.

“They (hence the children) are not as young as we adults think. They think about complicated stuff, too.”

“They (hence the children) are not as young as we adults think. They think about complicated stuff, too.”

You must have understood till this point that the strong card of Man of Many Faces is the characters- the story isn’t anything extraordinary. And one more thing that kept me reading were the ‘love lectures’, which despite the fact that they appear too serious and mature to come out of a kid’s mouth and especially a kindergarten pupil, they sure stayed with me. In particular the ‘love doesn’t stay the same’ speech. It had surprised me how true that is and how romantic the next line was: ‘it will grow deeper’. I couldn’t stop smiling. It may seem utopic, yet it’s an admiring goal and there are couples that have achieved that goal.

A mysterious very young thief- a Man of Many Faces review

What annoyed me was the marriage of Utako and Akira at the age of 22… Ok, at least they finished high school first. I am not sure if what freaks me out more is that they hadn’t had another relationship in their lives, they married their firsts after over 10 years of relationship that began in primary or Utako’s dream of becoming the perfect wife… I know that in Japan women still have that dream and manga are simply fantasy, but that doesn’t make me cringe less.  What has female emancipation done for women in Japan??? Nothing has been learned? Western ideas haven’t changed the way people think?

The art is really a joy to see. Lustrous, highly detailed, and the colors pop pleasantly out of the picture.

The art is really a joy to see. Lustrous, highly detailed, and the colors pop pleasantly out of the picture.


The mystery: We never get any explanation on why their father left (but he gets one appearance and so we know he’s alive) or on the nature of their family, hence if Akira’s parents were married or simply lived together, or if between the ‘moms’ there are more things going on and Akira’s father was a donator.

For more of my CLAMP series reviews, visit the Down the Clamphole! post.
This post is also one of my entries for the Manga Moveable Feast which for this month centers around CLAMP.


4 thoughts on “A mysterious very young thief- a Man of Many Faces review

  1. @SilverRose: Yeah, Utako wouldn't anyone boss her around, thank goodness. I didn't say that is an issue of women's rights per se, as every woman can choose her life, but I still find the housewife-only life disagreeable. I believe that a woman as a person can develop skills and interests mainly when she's in the work force. I also find it very very veeeery important that a woman is financially independent. As for the 10+ years of relationship, I understand your point, but I don't think it's the same when you start counting from age 5 than let's say from age 18. But it's fiction and I'm overanalysing perhaps :)Thanks for commenting! *waves tail*


  2. I think the relationship between Utako and Akira is really cute. I don't think Utako getting married out of high school is an issue of women's rights. There is no way that Utako would let herself be bossed around, especially not by Akira (based on the way she treats him, poor guy.) If I was in Utako's shoes, and had been mutually in love with someone for 10+ years, then I probably wouldn't want to wait to get married. Anyway, I do agree that the mothers are horrible parents, even though they do love Akira.


  3. Have to agree with you about Utako.

    Am I the only one that hate Akira's mother(s)? They're useless and do nothing but give Akira's trouble. Poor Akira must do all housework for them.

    “…the mothers have their son do all the work AND have him steal for him.”
    (from Amazon review)


  4. @Kencana: From what you've heard around, you aren't the only one. And to tell the truth, they ARE horrible mothers. I just can't hold them grudge; they are really pretty and do love their son. Their social logic is just a bit out of synch with the real world and their morals have gone out for a walk, hehe.


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