Cover of the first volume of the original Japanese release of Absolute Boyfriend
|Written by||Yuu Watase|
|Original run||March 25, 2003 – February 25, 2005|
|Original run||April 15, 2008 – June 24, 2008|
|Episodes||11+1 special episode|
Absolute Boyfriend (絶対彼氏。 Zettai Kareshi?) is a six volume manga series by Yuu Watase, first serialized in Shōjo Comic. Chuang Yi licensed it for an English language release in Singapore, with the first volume released in March 2005. Viz Media licensed the series for an English release in North America, serializing the series in its Shojo Beat manga anthology as well as releasing the volumes.
The manga series was adapted into an 11-episode live-action drama series that aired in Japan in 2008. A 13-episode Taiwanese adaptation aired in 2012 under the title Absolute Darling (絕對達令 Jue Dui Darling), and plans are underway for a South Korean adaptation.
Riiko Izawa has never had a boyfriend and she has been rejected by every boy she has ever had a crush on. When she returns a lost cell phone to an oddly dressed salesman, she mentions wanting a boyfriend. To thank her, he directs her to his company's website, Kronos Heaven. When she visits the site, Riiko finds it's a site to create your perfect lover. Thinking it's a game, she customizes and accidentally orders one. The next day, her new lover arrives. Following the instruction manual, she kisses him to wake him up which configures him to be in love with only her. She names him "Night." Three days later, she is shocked to learn that she only had him for a free trial for 72 hours. The salesman, Gaku Namikiri, tells her that she must now pay ¥100,000,000 for Night, however, they will waive the fee if she helps them to collect data about how women think and feel to help perfect future models.
Riiko must now keep Night's true nature a secret from everyone around her. She also soon finds herself in a love triangle between Night and her childhood friend Soshi, who declares his love for her out of fear he will lose her. As the series progresses, Night begins to develop real human emotions, enabling him to truly love Riiko but also resulting in system malfunctions. When Riiko almost loses Night due to the malfunctions, she realizes that he is the one she really loves. She apologizes to Soshi, who moves to Spain with his brother to live with their dad. Night and Riiko spend a few happy weeks together, during which they go on dates, get their picture taken together, and purchase matching rings as symbols of their undying love.
As the series ends, Night begins to grow sleepier and sleepier. The problems developed by him exceeding his abilities eventually causes his machinery to stop working, resulting in his "death". Before he died, he wrote a letter directed to Soshi telling him what was happening and asking him to take care of Riiko. He also sends his ring, which Riiko noticed he has not been wearing immediately prior to his death. In the letter, he tells Riiko that she doesn't have to cry for him any more but to always smile. So she laughs and forever treasures her rings and memories of Night.
- Riiko Izawa (井沢リイコ Izawa Riiko?)
- Played by: Saki Aibu (Japanese drama) / Ku Hye-sun (Taiwanese drama)
- Riiko is a young, flat-chested (according to Soushi, 32-A cup) 16-year-old girl who has bad luck with boys. When she helps a strange salesman named Gaku Namikiri, she ends up ordering a cybernetic boyfriend. Though initially shy around her new boyfriend, Riiko begins to fall in love with him, while also finding herself struggling with her new admirer, Soushi Asamoto. Riiko is rather naïve, clumsy, and simple-minded, but kindhearted, hardworking, and serious.
- Riiko doesn't want to admit she is in love with Night and constantly reminds herself that he is just a doll. This, however, isn't completely true because she gets jealous or even angry when he flirts with other girls for "data."
- In the Japanese version, Riiko is an office lady at Asamoto who has trouble with guys, so she is introduced by the manager of Kronos Heaven to try out a cybernetic boyfriend for one week. Over the course of the series, she grows increasingly attached to her new boyfriend, Night Tenjo, and her boss, Asamoto Soshi. She chooses to give up her dream of becoming a pâtissier to be with Night, but she ends up going anyway after Night's computer system is destroyed.
- In the special episode in Japan, Riiko has become an official pâtissier after three years of training and is forced to make the choice of her life when Night is suddenly restored.
- In the Taiwanese version, Xiaofei (Riiko) is an ordinary office worker at the general affairs department of the company, unlike Riiko who has talents in pâtissierie in the Japanese drama.
- Night Tenjo (天城ナイト Tenjō Naito?)
- Played by: Mokomichi Hayami (Japanese drama) / Jiro Wang (Taiwanese drama)
- Nightly 01 (Night) is a cybernetic doll ordered by Riiko Izawa. As such, he is the "perfect boyfriend": charming, dependable, intelligent, athletic, good-looking, sensitive, and completely devoted. Designed to fulfill intimate relations for a woman, Night constantly offers to have sex with Riiko, who steadfastly declines the offer. Not knowing a sense of privacy, he often takes out his clothes under the slightest prompting of him having to sleep with Riiko even at public places, and often tries to hug or kiss Riiko, which makes her uncomfortable and embarrassed.
- While Night at first functions as Riiko's perfect boyfriend due to his programming, his relationship with Riiko eventually makes him develop true humanlike emotions, culminating in him having his own will. Even if Night's allegiance to Riiko can be switched by means of kissing, his relationship with her is so strong that when a customer of a host club makes him her lover, he still remembers Riiko, albeit as an ex-girlfriend; upon kissing Riiko again, he quickly switches allegiance to her while completely forgetting his experiences with the customer beforehand. Eventually, he grows to love Riiko genuinely and trespasses orders given to him by Kronos Heaven.
- However, Night is secretly dying from battery failure as his relationship with Riiko goes intimate, although he does not want to make Riiko worry by informing her. Before he shuts down, he writes a letter for Soushi to return for Riiko, while telling Riiko not to cry and to move on from him.
- Night's Ring
- Functions similarly to a mood ring, with one difference: it reads the moods of people around Night. This helps him collect data about interacting with them.
- What the different colors mean: Red - Happy, Pink - Pleasure, Black - Sad, Blue - Angry and Jealous, and White - Neutral/Calm.
- In the Japanese series, Night is initially much more annoying than his manga incarnation as he often embarrasses Riiko by telling everyone that he is her "ideal boyfriend", which infuriates her. He finds a job as a janitor at Asamoto and embarrasses her further. Unlike the manga, his data-collecting equipment is a bracelet.
- By developing his own will, Kronos Heaven worries about the problems he may cause to the company and they try to delete his data. Though Night manages to keep his system from deletion for some time, his data chip begins to overheat due to his newfound independence and eventually stops working altogether.
- In the special episode in Japan, his system is restored by a doctor who wishes to use his independence for her selfish reasons. He eventually is forced to make the ultimate decision: to give up Riiko for her future.
- In the Taiwanese TV drama, Night is more or less determined to send the "yellow" data to Kronos Heaven, which can be generated when he seduces women sexually. More identical to the original manga than the Japanese adaptation, Night uses the ring to read Xiaofei's emotions. Night is very much dedicated to Xiaofei's happiness and encourages her to return him to the company if it will make her feel better, but as he starts developing his ego and learning how to become more like a human being, he realizes that leaving Xiaofei is not the best solution to keep her happy and decides to stay with her until the end.
- Soushi Asamoto (浅元ソウシ Asamoto Soushi?)
- Played by: Hiro Mizushima (Japanese drama) / Kun Da (Taiwanese drama)
- Soushi is Riiko's childhood friend. He lives alone with his brother because his father is a travel photographer. He watches over Riiko and takes care of her while her parents work far away. At first, he simply treats her as a very good friend. But as the story progresses, Soushi realizes that he has stronger feelings for Riiko and confesses his love to her.
- In the Japanese version, Soushi's personality is switched between that of his brother; instead of a serious individual, Soushi is a flamboyant and playful young man who cares more about the origins of his grandfather's company than what it has become. He grows romantically attached to Riiko and declares his love for her, who reciprocates her feelings. He also encourages Riiko to pursue her dream of becoming a pâtissier. At the end of the series, Soushi invites Riiko to study further in becoming a pâtissier at France with him. In the special episode, Soushi and Riiko return to Japan after three years of study to reopen the Asamoto's original base of home. The two have also become a couple, but their relationship is strained by the sudden return of Night. Eventually however, the two reconcile after Night decides to let go of his relationship with Riiko.
- In the Taiwanese version, Zongshi (Soshi) is an old friend of Xiaofei who lives next door and takes care of her every day. He works as an elite (and a bit geeky) employee at the same company as Xiaofei. He is extremely reluctant to show his feelings towards her, but as Night comes between them, he tries to challenge Night by attempting to take her back. At the end, Xiaofei chooses Night over Zongshi, but his loyal love and friendship make him firmly committed to her happiness and so he continues to look after Xiaofei and Night.
- Gaku Namikiri (ガク·ナミキリ?)
- Played by: Kuranosuke Sasaki (Japanese drama) / Wei-hsun Na (Taiwanese drama)
- Gaku is a salesman for Kronos Heaven, a company specializing in making highly realistic robots, or "figures." Though usually businesslike and down-to-earth, Gaku is often mistaken for a cosplayer because of his odd manner of dress. When Riiko cannot return Night or pay the bill for him, Gaku allows her to keep him so Night can collect data on how to become a better lover for use in future models. Whenever there is a problem with Night, Gaku is the one to fix him. Gaku keeps close tabs on the progress in the relationship between Riiko and Night, and he often appears randomly out of nowhere, ie. out of Riiko's closet, mostly for comic relief. A stereotypical Japanese salesman, he speaks with a heavy Kansai dialect and tends to interject Spanish words in his conversations. Gaku's family owns a business of selling takoyaki; at the end of the series, Gaku quits his job at Kronos Heaven to inherit his family business. Gaku is the one whom Night trusts to give his letter asking Soushi to return for Riiko once the latter has calmed down from her grief of losing Night.
- In the Japanese drama, Namikiri is the creator of Nightly 01, and he decides to sell his 01 to Riiko to prove that his robot is ready for mass production. Like everyone in the series, Namikiri is depicted to be quite older than in the manga. Contrary to with his fellow employees' ideas at Kronos Heaven, he believes that Night developing humanlike emotions is a good thing and tries to defend him from being scrapped. At the end of the series, he stores the now-shut down Night while praising the latter for what he had done in his short life. In the special episode, Gaku expresses surprise when Night comes to function without his authorization. He later reluctantly scraps Night, as per the latter's wishes.
- In the Taiwanese version, Lei Wuwu (Namikiri) is more similar to the original character in the manga. He shows off his flamboyant cosplay-like fashion style and pops up wherever Xiaofei and Night are together. He is merely a salesman, not a creator of Night, but he becomes very supportive of Night and Xiaofei and later helps Night escape from Kronos Heaven's COO Bai Qui (Yuki Shirisaki)'s attempt to format Night's memory.
- Yuki Shirasaki (ユキ・シラサキ?)
- Played by: Bi Xiao-Hai (Taiwanese drama)
- Gaku Namikiri's superior at Kronos Heaven, Yuki sends a Nightly 02 model, Toshiki, to seduce and have sex with Riiko, due to Night's repeated failure to sleep with Riiko. He at first pretends to be Toshiki's younger brother who knocks out Night by whispering a code to his ear so Toshiki can have a chance to seduce Riiko. He drops his disguise just before Night's inevitable fight with Toshiki, stating that whichever model that successfully sleeps with Riiko will be the finished product, while the failure one will be disposed. After Night wins the fight, Yuki shuts down Toshiki so it can be reprogrammed. However, when Night runs away from Kronos Heaven during his maintenance period, Yuki is sent alongside Gaku by his superiors to capture him, due to Night's possible danger as a doll with humanlike emotions. Despite his attempts to capture him, including sending another model of Nightly 01, he fails and is convinced by Gaku to give up the act.
- In the Taiwanese version, Bai Qui (Yuki) is the COO of Kronos Heaven. He is the creator of the perfect lover robots. Though he seemed to have created Nightly 01 based on a man who died in his twenties, there is no further explanations about the relation between Bai Qui and the man that looks like Night.
- Toshiki Shirasaki (白崎トシキ Shirasaki Toshiki?)
- Played by: Tsuyoshi Abe (Japanese drama)
- Another line of cybernetic dolls manufactured by Kronos Heaven in the same liege as Night, Toshiki is part of the Nightly 02 series, which is technologically more advanced than the Nightly 01 series. He carries a high resemblance to Night in facial features, body structure, and even wears the same jewelry, although he is much stronger and has better reflexes than him. Under the guise of Toshiki Murakami (村上トシキ Murakami Toshiki?), Riiko's first crush, he is sent to replace Night as Riiko's boyfriend due to Night's failure to sleep with Riiko, with his benefactor, Yuki, under the guise of his little brother. During Night and Riiko's stay at a hotel, Toshiki manages to knock out Riiko upon kissing her, then claims that he had fun with her the next morning; while the two have not in fact slept together, Riiko believes so, and this temporarily creates a strain between her and Night. Toshiki uses the opportunity to seduce Riiko, but he is stopped by Night, who tears his arm after a brutal fight. Toshiki is then shut down by Yuki and taken away for testing and reprogramming. Later, he becomes the boyfriend of a wealthy girl and establishes a friendship with Riiko and Night.
- In the Japanese drama, Riiko encounters Toshiki sitting at a bench on the riverside when she is let down. Toshiki simply tries to get along with her staying at Riiko's landlady's house and starting working as a janitor as Night at her company. He locks Night up in a room to go out with Riiko, but his plan fails as Night escapes and confronts him at the parking lot. As Nightly 02, Toshiki is developed by another team at Kronos Heaven in the Japanese version. In the competition between Nightly 01 and 02, Toshiki loses as he calculates too much for his sake when Riiko is at the risk of a car accident while Night saves her without thinking of his own safety. As a result, Toshiki is disposed permanently and Night 01 is chosen for the mass production.
- In the Taiwanese drama, Junshu (Toshiki) dupes Xiaofei in a similar way as in the original manga. In the Taiwanese version, Junshu causes more troubles to the relationship between Xiaofei and Night than in the Japanese version. He gets wounded seriously after a confrontation with Night and Kronos Heaven's COO Bai Qui, who is also the creator of Nightly 02, admits that Nightly 01 is superior to 02.
- Satori Miyabe (宮部サトリ Miyabe Satori?)
- Played by: Emily Tsai (Taiwanese drama)
- An aloof friend of Riiko. Due to her antisocial attitude, Riiko and other students find Miyabe "weird". However, Miyabe is actually very kind and sometimes offers her deadpan advice about love for Riiko. She is the first to learn that Riiko has been lured to be humiliated by Night's crazed fanclub led by Mika during an outdoor trip; while she claims that it is not her problem, Miyabe tells Mika that her actions will yield consequences. Riiko later finds out that Miyabe is very rich due to having worked as a stock trader, which she has interest to take part on to pay Night's maintenance bills. Miyabe becomes the second person, after Soushi, to know that Night is in fact a robot, during her borrowing of a miniature Night. She reveals to Night that ever since her parents' deaths, she has lost her will to fall in love with anyone, although she is able to be convinced by Night to fall in love again.
- While Miyabe does not appear in the Japanese series, her character and personality seems to be incorporated to Fujiko Wakabayashi (若林ふじ子 Wakabayashi Fujiko?), played by Miki Maya. Fujiko is a bartender of the bar adjoining the Asamoto office building who smokes and is quite close to Riiko. Like Miyabe, Fujiko offers advice to Riiko about her troubled love life and is also the third person in the office, after Riiko and Soushi, to discover that Night is a robot.
- Masaki Asamoto (浅元マサキ Asamoto Masaki?)
- Played by: Shunsuke Nakamura (Japanese drama) / Darryl Kuo (Taiwanese drama)
- Soushi's little brother. Like Soushi, Masaki is also a childhood friend of Riiko. He strongly supports his brother to date Riiko, much to Soushi's embarrassment. At the end of the series, alongside Soushi, Masaki moves to Spain to rejoin with his father and stays there permanently while Soushi decides to return back to Japan six months later.
- In the Japanese series, Masaki, who is renamed as Masashi, is Soushi's older brother and takes up the characteristics of Soushi in the manga (having black hair, wearing glasses, etc.) as well as his personality. Serious and no-nonsense, he constantly criticizes and laments Soushi's immaturity and indifference when handling the family pastry business, of which he takes up the seat of vice-chairman. He also looks down on Riiko because of the latter's low social standing and general unprofessionalism in the job. As the series goes on, however, Masashi begins to admit that Soushi is able to take care of the business in his own ways, and at the end of the series, he approves of Soushi's appointment for Riiko to accompany him to France.
- In the Taiwanese version, Zongshi's little brother is a chubby school kid who makes fun of his shyness, but sometimes gives him good advice unintentionally. He supports Zongshi's love for Xiaofei.
- Played by: Ryou Iwamatsu and Hitomi Takahashi (Japanese drama)
- Riiko's parents. The two work overseas and seldom return to Japan, forcing Riiko to live in an apartment by herself. In spite of their rare visits for their daughter, they, especially Yoshiharu, truly care for Riiko's well-being. They are first shown in a comedic segment when Riiko, in her initial shock of seeing Night arriving naked, reminiscences that she used to innocently ask her father about male genitalia when she was a child. The two return to Japan midway in the series and expresses surprise (in Yoshiharu's case, disapproval) that their daughter is living with a man. To try to shoo off Night, Yoshiharu attempts to make Riiko attend a dinner with Soushi, whom he particularly wants in becoming his son-in-law, though the plan falls through. The two remain unaware of Night's actual state as they take their leave from Japan.
- In the Japanese drama, Yoshiharu and Makiko decide to visit Riiko during their business visit in Tokyo. When he discovers that Riiko is living with Night, Yoshiharu goes mad and strains his relationship with Riiko. However, with Night's insistence for them to take a vacation and later Night's determination to do anything for Riiko, Yoshiharu reconciles with his daughter right before he and his wife leave Tokyo. A running gag in the episode they appear in is that Makiko becomes flustered whenever she meets all "attractive men" who are close to Riiko, including Night, Soushi, and even Gaku.
- Ishizeki (石関?)
- Played by: Nobuo Kyou (Japanese drama) / David Chen (Taiwanese drama)
- A boy whom Riiko has had a crush on since the school entrance. Riiko confesses her love for Ishizeki at the start of the series, but he rejects, saying that he is already in love with another girl. It is later revealed that the girl is in fact Riiko's friend, Mika, who breaks up with him in return and is the one who made him as well as every boy Riiko had tried to date believe that Riiko is a gold digger. Ishizeki harshly discusses his rejection to his friends, which Riiko (and unknowingly, Soushi) overhears, and later publicly humiliates Riiko; he receives his comeuppance when both Night and Soushi beat him up. Ishizeki then calls Riiko a "slut" upon knowing her relationship with Night; Night once again beats him and his friends while telling them never to mess with him or Riiko again.
- In the Japanese drama, Ishizeki is a staff member of Asamoto whom Riiko seems to be fond of until she realizes with some prompting from Mika that he has been playing with her feelings .
- In the Taiwanese version, Adam (Ishizeki) is one of Xiaofei's colleagues that she has a crush on. He turns down Xiaofei brutally in front of a group of his colleagues. Night shows up to protect Xiaofei and beats up Ishizeki.
- Mika Itou (伊藤ミカ Itō Mika?)
- Played by: Natsuhi Ueno (Japanese drama) / Cherry Hsia (Taiwanese drama)
- A frenemy and classmate of Riiko, having been Riiko's friend since middle school. A beautiful and charming girl, she attracts the attention of many boys, whom she occasionally dates, if only briefly. She offers support and reassurance when Riiko feels miserable after being rejected by Ishizeki. However, later on, it is shown that she is the reason why boys always reject Riiko after she asks them out, as she has been spreading rumors around school that Riiko is slutty and goes out with boys for their money. Mika has been dating Ishizeki ever since Riiko takes interest in him and quickly breaks up with him once he has rejected Riiko's confession, as she is only interested in things that belong to other people. Later on, Mika sets Night's violent fanclub on Riiko and tries to make Night break up with Riiko and date her instead. In the end, her scheme backfires, and she stops being friends with Riiko.
- In the Japanese drama, Mika, as in the manga, starts out as Riiko's understanding friend who offers support for Riiko's love life. However, she is secretly jealous of Riiko's popularity and charm to attract many men. She has been trying her hardest to ruin Riiko's life, first by dating with Ishizeki when the latter is still being pursued by Riiko, and later by seducing Night with a kiss, which temporarily switches his allegiance to Mika until Riiko manages to kiss him back. She also secretly sends Natsumi, Riiko's competitor in a pastry competition, recipes that allow her to win. When her schemes are discovered, Mika is humiliated and quits her job at the office. She later reconciles with Riiko and helps to protect Night's secret.
- In the Taiwanese version, Meijia (Mika) is a frenemy of Xiaofei who constantly plots to make her miserable since Xiaofei unwillingly uncovered her faults at work. Unlike the Japanese version, Meijia and Xiaofei do not maintain their friendship after Miejia expresses her hatred.
- Muyai (ムヤイ?)
- Played by: Manbuku Kin (Japanese drama)
- Riiko and Soushi's boss at a Vietnamese restaurant named "Manteiv". He has an odd appearance and speaks in a mangled English. It is later revealed that Muyai is in fact another manufactured robot of Kronos Heaven, tasked to capture Night after his escape from the company.
Written by Yuu Watase, Absolute Boyfriend premiered in Japan in the March 2003 issue of Shōjo Comic. It appeared monthly until the thirty-fifth and final chapter was published in the February 2005 issue. The chapters were published in six collected volumes by Shogakukan with the first volume released on October 25, 2003 and the final volume released on February 25, 2005.
Absolute Boyfriend is licensed for both English and Chinese releases in Singapore by Chuang Yi, which has released all six volumes of the series. Madman Entertainment subsequently imported and republished the Chuang Yi English translated volumes in Australia from May 17, 2006 through October 11, 2006. In North America, the series was licensed for an English translated release by Viz Media. It was one of the first six manga series Viz included in the June 2005 premiere issue of the company's new manga anthology Shojo Beat. It continued to be serialized in Shojo Beat until it reached its conclusion in the March 2008 issue. Viz simultaneously released the six collected volumes of the series, with the first volume released February 7, 2006 and the final volume released on May 6, 2008.
|No.||Japanese release date||Japanese ISBN||Singapore (English) release date||Singapore (English) ISBN|
|1||October 25, 2003||ISBN 4091384617||March 2005||ISBN 981-260-381-6|
|2||January 26, 2004||ISBN 4091384625||—||ISBN 981-260-411-1|
|3||April 26, 2004||ISBN 4091384633||—||ISBN 981-260-454-5|
|4||June 26, 2004||ISBN 4091384641||—||ISBN 981-260-454-5|
|5||October 26, 2004||ISBN 409138465X||—||ISBN 981-260-551-7|
|6||February 25, 2005||ISBN 4091384668||—||ISBN 981-260-654-8|
Live-action television series
A live-action adaptation of the manga began airing on Fuji TV on April 15, 2008 and ran for eleven episodes until its conclusion on June 24, 2008. In the live-action version, Riiko Izawa is an office lady in search of a boyfriend, and she ends up in possession of a "robot" known as Night Tenjo, who is programmed to be the perfect boyfriend. However, this creates a love triangle with a distinguished young man at her company who also has feelings for her. Riiko is played by Saki Aibu, Night is played by Mokomichi Hayami, and Soshi Asamoto is played by Hiro Mizushima.
On March 24, 2009, a special episode of this series was released and featured 3 years after the last episode of the series, whereas Riiko had become a pâtissier and is engaged to Soshi Asamoto; and Night was suddenly revived by a Kronos Heaven employee, who wanted to use his individual ego to her own gain. At the end of this special episode, Night is last seen telling Namikiri to erase him from this world while shedding tears. Riiko at last, returns to Soshi's side and their marriage goes on, but this is not shown on screen.
It was announced at a press conference on October 5, 2010 that a live-action adaptation of Absolute Boyfriend will be filmed starring Taiwanese singer-actor Wu Chun as "Night" and Korean actress Ku Hye-sun as "Riiko." On May 3, 2011, Jiro Wang replaced fellow Fahrenheit band member Wu Chun as the male lead of the drama series, now titled Absolute Darling The Taiwanese adaptation premiered on April 1, 2012 on FTV.(絕對達令 Jue Dui Da Ling).
On October 18, 2011, there were unconfirmed reports of a Korean adaptation titled Absolutely Him (Hangul: 절대 그이; RR: Jeoldae Geuyi) starring actress Kim Ha-neul as the female lead opposite singer-actor T.O.P. However there are no follow-up news on the production.
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