St. Roommate — Takase Ryo
Takase Ryo is one of my favorite artists who was working in Nakayoshi back when the magazine was huge, with Sailor Moon and MKR and Saint Tail running in it. She was one of those manga writers who are not so popular they’ll be well-known outside of a magazine’s readership (like Takeuchi Naoko), but are still quite popular in the magazine’s own niche. Like a third- or fourth-tier, I suppose you could say, along with people like Ayumi Yui and Nekobe Neko.
The first manga by her I remember reading is Orange Pocket, which is the story (I think… it’s been a while) of an orphan girl who starts living with a family, and slowly learns to trust again. But the manga that made the biggest impression on me and made me think that wow, I need to read more by this person was St. Roommate. It’s the story of a girl who starts in a new HS far from home and moves into a dorm with a roommate — who turns into a guy when she sneezes. Total sex-swapping shenanigans, with the protagonist being head-over-heels for the guy version of her roommate, but also going “Ugh why is she so hot and cool even when she’s a girl!” all the time. It was totally adorable but also kind of a “forbidden” love story, at least for the 11-year-olds who are the main target audience of Nakayoshi, which you can also tell by the tagline, which calls it “a romantic comedy that’s a little bit dangerous”. She later went on to draw Kurumi to 7-nin no kobito-tachi, a pastiche of sorts of Grimm’s fairly tales, which was very cute and quite popular, and ran for five volumes.
I haven’t read any of her works in a loooong time, and I keep hoping that they’ll one day turn up on on eBookJapan so I can check them out and see if I still think they’re adorable and funny. I know she mostly draws manga versions of Harlequin romance novels these days (which, yes, is a thing in Japan — they should import that stuff back to the US), which are available as ebooks, so I’m thinking it’s not impossible! I even sent them a request e-mail about it. I want to read aaaaaaall the 80s and 90s Nakayoshi and Ribon shojo manga.