When Valentine’s Day rolls around, we can only hope we’ll be basking in love. For coupled individuals, congratulations. For singletons, we can always rely on good old fantasy. A good source of make-believe romance — mangas.

These Japanese manga artists have a knack of making our hearts flutter. The leading man often comes with a chiselled face and physique. Almost always, he has an enviable talent in sport or music. Or he could be just really smart. For an extra dose of dreaminess, he will be blessed with a hefty inheritance. He’ll turn up in a sports car to pick up his date, before whisking her off to a private island on a whim.

The male protagonist sounds too-good-to-be-true. But that’s the whole point: He’s the object of our dreams!

Here’s our pick of the best manga leading males we’ve seen on screen. Which one of them is your favourite?

The Reformed Bad Boy: Domyoji Tsukasa of Boys Over Flowers

Dylan Wang as Dao Ming Si in the China remake of Boys Over Flowers. Credit: Facebook

Women are a conflicted bunch. Who do they want to date? Is it the dependable guy who treats her well? Or is it the unpredictable man who isn’t the nicest yet makes her heart race?

Manga artist Yoko Kamio has the answer. She created Domyoji Tsukasa of Boys Over Flowers. A suave scion with wealth and power at his disposal, Tsukasa is the school’s resident heartthrob and tyrant.

The brooding Tsukasa made life hell for his defiant schoolmate Makino Tsukushi, but soon finds himself falling for the feisty female lead. He chases her with the persistence of a homing missile locked on a target. His fiery temper is channelled to eliminating obstacles, such as a meddlesome mother and love rivals.  

His single-minded devotion gets us weak in the knees, a huge plus point in today’s non-commital dating culture.


Bespoke Beau: Night Tenjo Of Absolute Boyfriend

Jiro Wang as the perfect humanoid boyfriend in the Taiwanese remake of Absolute Boyfriend.

We can order almost anything online. Need a late night delivery to the office? Call FoodPanda. Need a new sofa on the cheap? Log on to Taobao.

Don’t want to spend Valentine’s Day alone? You can custom order a hyper-realistic, robot boyfriend. Hold up. That’s only possible if you’re daydreaming or reading the manga Absolute Boyfriend.

Our female protagonist Riiko Izawa is always unlucky in love. She is given a chance to sign up for a free trial to create the perfect boyfriend. The next day, a package arrives at her doorstep. It’s a handsome humanoid programmed according to her preferences.

It’s like a dating a model, minus the jerk tendencies. Imagine waking up to breakfast in bed made by your boyfriend, or cuddling up to him in bed. Endowed with steely strength, he is your personal bodyguard. He could even take up a part-time job to earn his keep. In the Taiwanese remake of Absolute Boyfriend (see YouTube video above), Jiro Wang of boyband Fahrenheit even jumps in front of an oncoming bus to catch his girl’s falling mobile phone, then dodges the vehicle in one fluid motion.

Your wish is his command. Now isn’t that a dream.


Music Genius: Chiaki Shinichi of Nodame Cantabile

Joo Won as the musically talented male lead in the South Korean drama remake of Nodame Cantabile. Credit: Facebook

Back in school, teenage girls could be divided into two camps: You’d either for the sporty jocks or the talented musicians.

Chiaki Shinichi was the piano prince of my dreams. Born into a musical family, Chiaki played the piano and violin. He was the top student at a music college and harboured dreams of becoming a conductor. The perfectionist could be an arrogant ass at times too. But hey, a flawed genius only makes him human.

Every time Chiaki sat down at a piano, he would mesmerise the audience. The way his fingers flew frantically over the black and white keys. The way he closed his eyes to bask in the music he created. Even better, if he was wearing a black tuxedo.

Now, I’m off to Google some YouTube clips of Chiaki.

A Manly Man In Touch With His Feminine Side: Asuka Masamune of Otomen

Actor Masaki Okada and actress Kaho in the Japanese drama Otomen. Credit: Facebook

Asuka Masamune seems like our typical manga hero. A fine specimen of manliness. He is tall, handsome and incredibly athletic.

But secretly, Asuka is an otomen. What’s an otomen? A guy who is interested in items or activities often associated with women.

When no one is looking, Asuka reveals his inner self. Baking, sewing and the colour pink spark joy in him. And don’t get him started about his favourite comic genre. He reads shoujo manga, typically targeted at teenage girls.

Such gender stereotypes are outdated in today’s world. Who’s to say that boys can only play with trucks and robots? Who’s to say that only girls can play with Barbie dolls?

I’d date a man who loves to read the same manga as me.


The A-Star Student: Naoki Irie of Mischievous Kiss

Fall In Love At First Kiss stars Dalu Wang and Jelly Lin. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Naoki Irie is classic crush material. He is the lucky winner of the genetic lottery.  Our male lead is gorgeous to look at. The gifted genius scores as easily as breathing comes to him. And he is also good at sports. 

Sometimes life just isn’t fair.

For every infatuation, there’s an ardent admirer. Average schoolgirl Kotoko Aihara musters up her courage to confess to Naoki. Of course, the aloof guy rejects her. The truth hurts: Naoki is way out of her league. 

But manga author Kaoru Tada turns reality on its head.  A strange turn of events leads to the unlikely pair living under one roof, and sparks fly between the housemates. 

It’s a dreamy plot we all wish happened to us. We can relive the fantasy over and over again. The manga has been adapted into over 10 versions —films and dramas — made in Taiwan, Thailand, China, Korea, and Japan. 

We can’t wait to watch the latest remake, Taiwanese movie Fall In Love At First Kiss 一吻定情. Will  Our Times’ Dalu Wang live up to fans’ expectations as Jiang Zhishu (Naoki’s Chinese name)? Let us know – this title will be officially released on February 21 but is sneaking at Golden Village cinemas from February 14 to 17 just for Valentine’s Day!


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