Sat, 10 November 2007
Shinshoku Kiss Volume 1 Manga Review. Written and drawn by Kazuko Higashiyama, co-creator of Tactics. Translated by Monica Seya Chin. Adapted by Jay Antani. Originally published in Japan by Gentosha Comics in 2004. Published by Tokyopop, $9.99, Rated Older Teen 16+.
Kotoko Kashiwagi has dolls on the brain, and I'm not talking about android girls, I'm talking about dress-up dolls, which have their very own otaku subculture in Japan which counts females and males among their fandom. Kotoko would like nothing more than to spend the rest of her life designing and making them. She's constantly snapping photos of beautiful men and women to use as models for her dolls and she even enters a doll-making contest. Even though she loses, her work catches the eye of Fool, the hottest doll designer out there, who also works in film and TV. On one of her picture hunts, Kotoko spots a suitable bishonen sitting on a bench who has some curious bandages wrapped around parts of his body. When he touches her, some sort of electrical spark occurs and he ends up kidnapping her and taking her back to his apartment, which he shares with another guy named Yuta, who is also a dollmaker. When he asks Kotoko to help him with his work, she flatout refuses, thinking both these guys are creeps, perverts...or worse. As she makes a move for the door, Yuta calmly tells her she can go but if she doesn't agree to help him, she is going to die! Kotoko doesn't even have a clue that Yuta is actually Fool and that he wants her to use a new supernatural ability to help him make dolls.
Ok, I'll be the first to admit that I have absolutely no interest in dolls or doll-making. But I had no interest in the game of Go but I love reading the manga Hikaru No Go and would even like to take up playing it someday. After reading volume 1 of Shinshoku Kiss, I can hazard the guess that you'll never catch me dressing up dolls. This manga reminds me a bit of Paradise Kiss, even to the pushy bishonen who use intimidation, both physical and psychological, to get what they want out of the main heroine. But Yuta (Fool) goes to even more disturbing extremes. He repeatedly threatens to kill Kotoko several times in this first volume. And then you have the trademark bad boy seduction scene with Yuta pushing her against the wall and pinning her arms above her head, putting his lips oh so close to hers. It takes a little of the romance out of things when what looks like the male lead early on makes the female lead cough blood. Kazuko seems at cross purposes most of the book as she changes swiftly and jerkily from horror to romance to comedy. Somehow, she thinks, my female readers won't realize how bad this series is if I throw them a couple of mysterious bishonen. I'm not a devout feminist or anything, actually I'm a man, but I don't appreciate male characters threatening to kill women and chalking it up to bad-boy romance. Obviously, any girl that would fall for a would-be murderer would be psychotic themselves. Hey, but even OJ has a girlfriend, so I can't go too far with this line of thought.
My Grade: C- (the only thing that kept it from being a D is that I liked Kotoko, even though she was a bit shallow and only judged people by their appearance)