Takeru and Ryou are seventeen year old boys who are best friends and have been for years, but where Ryou is a veritable girl magnet and very at ease with the opposite sex, Takeru is much less so. In fact they find him a bit abrasive, whereas Ryou is universally adored (although his cousin Mari does like him more than she lets on). While making a delivery one night for Takeru's Uncle Icchou, the two boys see and follow a mysterious beam of light into the woods. There Takeru discovers a naked young girl with no memory that he names Hikari (which is Japanese for light), and this point he says is the beginning of the end of his normal life, in Ashita Morimi's This Ugly Yet Beautiful World.
Takeru gives the girl his jacket, takes her onto his back, and makes his way back to Ryou, who is of course surprised at what he has found, as well as the girl's instant attachment to Takeru, unlike most girls of his acquaintance. Takeru decides to take her home, and Ryou stays behind to do some investigating on his own. On their way to the home where he rents a room from his aunt and uncle, he and Hikari encounter a monster, which grabs Hikari! Takeru fights to save her, feeling rather powerless to defend her against this huge creature, when suddenly he finds his arm transformed into a giant sword and he vanquishes the monster and rescues the fair maiden! He carries the frightened half-naked girl home, and presents her to his aunt and uncle – his aunt promptly puts the girl into a spare room to sleep. Hikari wakens during the night, and seeking Takeru by his scent, crawls into bed with him, so that he wakens to her disturbing presence in his bed. Feeling uncomfortable with this dynamic, he goes into the hall to sleep where his cousin Mari finds him and wakes him, suspicious of course at his presence there. He denies everything, until the door unexpectedly opens behind him and a naked Hikari emerges, which certainly doesn't help the situation. In the meantime, Ryou is staring into the sky, convinced that the light which they saw broke into two, not just one, so he follows his instincts and finds a second young girl, whom he names Akari, which is brightness in Japanese, and although he leaves her where she is at first, he ends up taking her, and her ghostlike little creature Kuon, to live in the home he shares with his younger sister Kimi, who is less than thrilled at this turn of events, at first, until she gets to know Akari better.
One of the biggest complaints that I have about this manga is that it seems aimed at teenage boys with overactive hormones (perhaps it is, so maybe I shouldn't complain, but I am anyway). At the slightest, flimsiest provocation and/or excuse the two alien girls shed their clothes. In other words there are a lot of pictures of these well-endowed unhibited girls naked. I mean, to the point where it starts to become ridiculous. I find it hard to believe that Takeru's aunt and uncle would simply accept his bringing home a strange – and naked – girl to their home, and accept his paying them for the room she occupies. Ryou and his sister live alone, since both parents have died, which is also odd. Takeru and Ryou each enroll their "wards" in school, and there Takeru becomes aware of Ryou's alien. And their circle of friends accept the girls as aliens with little skepticism. Oh, and let's throw in a beach scene, for good measure, and another one in the bath. I think you get the idea. Well, not surprisingly, This Ugly Yet Beautiful World is rated 18+, and it does contain a lot of explicit fanservice. I would like to see greater character development as the series progresses. The artwork is nice enough, but the readership for this book is most likely of the male persuasion, or perhaps among the female gay community. I found some tenderness in Ryou's ministrations toward Akari, and perhaps a burgeoning protectiveness in Takeru for Hikari. The ending hints at a mystery to come, so we shall have to wait until future volumes to find out what it is. The manga is based on an anime television series which was co-produced by the Gainax and Shaft animation studios.
Comicsonline gives This Ugly But Beautiful World 3 out of 5 exposed mammaries.