Hot Gimmick Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Thursday, August 05, 2004
Release Date: Wednesday, October 01, 2003
Translated by:Pookie Rolf
What They Say
When high school girl Hatsumi has to go to buy a pregancy test because her popular sister Akane is "late," who does she run into but her creepy bully neighbor Ryoki! And now he's blackmailing her to become his slave! How will mild-mannered Hatsumi get out of this mess? Will Hatsumi's childhood crush (and male model) Azusa be abl to saver her from Ryoki's clutches? Find out why Hot Gimmick is one of the most talked-about new manga titles coming out of Japan!
Production by Viz is great. The cover art is a little larger than the Flower Comics version. This volume has Ryoki in his school uniform in front of a purple background. Logo Check! It's pretty good. I am not sure if I would like pink or white lettering better but I am cool with either. Inside Viz gives us a good transfer on decent paper. All of the chapter ending art is there and so is the "Neighborhood Tour" and "Extra Gimmick". These are really nice touches that give readers a little background about the setting and the main characters so far.
Aihara's art is very nice. Tight strong lines make up some really nice character desgins. Most characters look a little long but they are not too out of scale. I love the mix of bishonen and kawaii characters. Unlike some mangaka Aihara doesn't get too lazy by only making her bishonen look nice, every one does and they all have their own sense of style that makes them all look unique. If there is any one thing I do not like about the character designs are the wierd eyes. They just have wierd shapes and are nothing like the ones on her cover art.
Backgrounds are also pretty strong here. While the lines here are not as thick, they show of a good amount of detail. What I found really interesting is that backgrounds were used a lot in this manga. A lot of shojo and shonen titles skimp on this type of thing and focus on character art but Aihara gives us a lot of both while keeping her layout relatively simple.
SFX are all translated and overlaid. Its done rather tastefully so SFX look nice and sound nice. Viz continues with a solid translation in this one. Honorifics are used off and on. "-Chan"s and "sensei"s come up often but "-san"s and "-kun"s are used sparingly. Did not notice any issues with spelling or grammar (typical Viz work.)
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Hatsumi is an average high school girl. Her family lives in employee housing in Tokyo's Setagaya neighborhood. Everyone knows each other from work and basically the structure at work carries on at home; where management are treated like royalty and staff are always being judged for performance. It can be too much for some people as they feel as if they are under the microscope at all times, wishing that they were not the next group to be transferred to another city.
Making matters worse is the fact that Hatsumi has a horrible relationship with Ryoki, the son of "the biggest big shot" at Tobashi Trading's housing complex. Its so bad she fears this guy and she makes efforts to avoid him as often as possible. Unfortunately she runs into him at the worst possible time. She was getting a pregnancy test for her "popular" younger sister. And knowing that he could possibly get Hatsumi's family kicked out of the housing complex he blackmails her. She has to be his slave but Hatsumi does not know what kind of slave, yet.
Unable to communicate her feelings very well Hatsumi gets caught in a moment where Ryoki wants her services. He needs her for sexual experience (he's a virgin). Things are looking bad until an old face comes back to the housing complex. Azusa was another neighbor until his family separated and he moved away. Circumstance has him moving back and going to the same school as old friend Hatsumi. Like Hatsumi he doesn't really like Ryoki. He knows he is a weird one and he pretty much comes in like a knight in shining armor practically every time Hatsumi is in trouble.
Once again though communication is a problem for Hatsumi. She doesn't tell Azusa about her situation with Ryoki; so what could be a romance between the two ends up in confusion and loneliness.
Hot Gimmick in some ways reminds me of what I like in a couple of manga. Life (by Suenobu Keiko) has the same type of tension with a few relationships. Those scenes can be pretty hard to watch for some people and I get the same feeling from Hot Gimmick. Quite a few series have issues with communication and sibling rivalries, and Hot Gimmick does a good job with these issues as well.
Add some really good art and a bit of humor and this series is pretty solid. Concepts like this need to be shown more often so I really found myself enjoying this.
I like how the characters interact with each other even though they tend to not open up very well. So while you know Hatsumi likes Azusa, she doesn't open up to him well. She may hate Ryoki sometimes, yet she tells him the things she cannot say to others. Pretty interesting.
For those of you looking for a shojo title with a little tension and some great characters (bishies!!) this is a good place to start.
For those of you looking for something a little lighter and with more romance right off the bat, pass. Some of the characters here do not know what romance is and it's creepy.
Me, I like what I see but I am not fully sold yet. I can see a lot of potential so I am a little impatient for what is coming soon but having seen some of these themes show up more often in untranslated manga I do not feel its as unique as it is to the North American market.
Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: B
Packaging Rating: A-
Text/Translatin Rating: B+
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: Viz Media
Size: Tall B6
Orientation: Right to Left