Hot Gimmick Vol. #02 (Mania.com)
By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Friday, August 06, 2004
Release Date: Monday, December 01, 2003
Translated by:Pookie Rolf
What They Say
Our heroine Hatsumi is on Cloud 9 when male model and childhood buddy Azusa asks her to be his girlfriend! But all is not as well as it seems: Hatsumi still has to get out from under the creepy clutches of her "master" Ryoki, who insists on continuing to blackmail her. And on the night of her first date with Azusa, her dad intervenes and grounds her! But that may not be the worst of it for poor Hatsumi, 'cause somethings brewing with Azusa, and her knight in shining armor may not be what he seems... All this in the drama-packed second volume of Hot Gimmick, one of the most talked-about new manga titles coming out of Japan!
English Title: Hot Gimmick
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 purple 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 Extra Gimmick with character info and uniform detail. 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 seemed to be in even more hot water by the end of the first volume. Ryoki was calling her his slave and Azusa might have taken her words and recent actions the wrong way. Either way, things were not looking good and she was feeling alone.
At the start of this volume, Hatsumi almost makes things worse by promising not to see Azusa until she has called it "quits" with Ryoki. So when luck has her having to go see Azusa, she is in for a big surprise.... Azusa calls her his girlfriend!!! And you know this, is not taken very well from Hatsumi. She sure likes Azusa, and has for a while, but she doesn't know who to properly express her feelings. She still considers Azusa as a childhood friend that she would like to like more (and she already does). But where did this come from? Why Hatsumi? Especially when she is so shy and lacks self-confidence. Hatsumi doesn't get it for a little while but soon she's so wrapped up in it she goes with the flow.
See this is where people start to look a little different. You really do not know who is what and why? So you would expect to see Azusa stand up for Hatsumi in front of Ryoki (that's old hat), and since they are now a couple seeing them arm in arm is not a shock. But having Azusa spike Hatsumi's alcoholic beverage is not good boyfriend like, hey even an old friend wouldn't be doing something like that without some motivation. But where is it coming from? Revenge? But for what? And on who? Or is it all a game? And what's this about his family?
Ryoki's motivation seemed so obvious before: sexual experience. But is that as simple as it seems? Add a little twist and Ryoki might actually be okay... for an undersexed teen. Ryoki really is just as hard to read as Azusa. You know he has urges (hell he is a teen!!) but why Hatsumi? The guy is attractive enough that he could find someone else and some people can live with his lack of personality. And why bother sticking with the slave thing, if it won't lead to anything?
With all these twists and turns one could easily forget Hatsumi is the main character here. And she seems almost clueless. She falls for this, she goes along with that and in the end she is always used. In other stories a character like that figures it out sooner or later but here the heroin/hero only gets deeper into trouble. Fortunately she is not a total loss. She is gets a boyfriend, he drugs her, she gets felt up while intoxicated, she finds out a bit of history behind her new boyfriend but true to form she does not learn much, move on or change. Instead she is where she started (as Ryoki's slave and confused about Azusa). Though, if she were any other way this story might not work.
After reading the first volume I said Hot Gimmick reminded me of a few other titles. Get a little from here, a little from there, and add some stylish art (which I am still not a real fan of) and you have a good production. Toss that! Seriously. This story is messed up and at the end of this volume I still am not sure who is gonna bring the hurt worse.
It really makes me want more. I want to know the motivation, the background, I need the wholes filled now because some of these characters cannot be so messed up without a good reason. I am sucked in and because Hatsumi seems so clueless (one negative) I find myself intrigued to see what will happen to her and by who?
For those of you looking for some drama (just drama, forget the bishonen, forget the comedy and forget the romance) pick this up. The relationships in this series are not what they seem. And after two volumes you have to wonder just how deep these illusions go. You really cannot get a hold of any character anymore, as there is too much they are hiding you just cannot trust them. I like that. It keeps you coming back for more.
For those of you looking for romance, its not there yet. What looked like a good match at the end of volume 1 could be a set-up or could be something else. There is the potential for an interesting twist here but from the looks of things it could take a little while. I can definitely wait but right now I would rather see a little more twists and turns in the plot.
Me, while I knew I was interested after volume 1, I am now sucked in deep. Yeah, I cannot feel for the main character, so far, but the drama is so thick and close-knit, and the history is so clouded I cannot wait to see things get worse. Sure its not a good perspective but there really is a lot of potential in a story like that. One that can build strange relationships. One that can ruin friendships. One that can have plot twist after twist. It's been a while since I have read a manga has been that wicked. Good stuff.
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