Hot Gimmick Vol. #03 (Mania.com)
By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Wednesday, August 11, 2004
Release Date: Sunday, February 01, 2004
Translated by:Pookie Rolf
What They Say
Yeeiiikes! In volume 3 of Hot Gimmick, things get really hairy for our hapless heroine Hatsumi as her too-good-to-be-true childhood-buddy-now-male-model boyfriend Azusa shows his true colors! And they're a lot worse than she thought! Will the unsuspecting Hatsumi wise up in time to escpae Azusa's lizardly revenge plot? Or will she be saved by, of all people, her creepy "master" Ryoki? With (boy)friends like these, who needs enemies?!?... 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 Azusa in some casual wear on a yellow background. This whole cover is full of yellows, mustards and browns... interesting combination. Logo Check!!! It's pretty good. I am not sure if I would like yellow 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. There is also an additional omake that focuses on Aihara's feelings towards pets (very funny but kinda scary).
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. As is the case with most (if not all of) Viz's shojo titles, Hot Gimmick has a solid translation. Honorifics are used often but I notice that they are used to emphasize relationships (which is just how it's used in Japanese). Did not notice any issues with spelling or grammar (typical Viz work.)
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
On the way to meet her boyfriend, Azusa, Hatsumi runs into her creepy neighbor and lifelong enemy Tachibana Ryoki. What is up with him? Why can't he get it in his head that he cannot call people his slave and expect them to do his every whim? But there he is and now he wants to do "it!" What can Hatsumi do in a situation like this? She has tried to tell Ryoki that she loves Azusa but that only irritates him. So much so, that he wants to go tell Azusa in person.
At Azusa's studio, the young model was not the only person waiting for Hatsumi. Azusa set her up and he had four of his friends (horny alcohol consuming friends) waiting to sexually attack his girlfriend. Now you might wonder if why boyfriend would do this. Turns out, this is what he meant when he talked about revenge. Azusa's mother appears to have had an affair with Hatsumi's father. According to Azusa that difficult romance eventually killed his mother after his parents separated. Ever since he has been collecting money trying to get back at Mr. Narita and now that he has the means the best way to complete his revenge is by attacking the people Mr. Narita cares for the most. Hatsumi would be an easy target and with her timid nature along with the close relationship, that Azusa had with her before she could easily fall for Azure's plan without much hesitation.
Azusa did not count on having Ryoki ruining everything. Why would a sociopath like him care? Ryoki, as weird as he is, seems to really care about Hatsumi. We still have not seen why the attraction is so strong, but he's feelings were strong enough to stand up against their assailants despite the odds. He could even offer Hatsumi the consideration of being a boyfriend instead of a "slave owner." As strange as that may sound, it presents some maturity on Ryoki while continuing his ignorance in regards to relationships. But thats where Hatsumi fits in. She could not only facilitate his needs for sex but she could share some guidance as he grows into her lover. Easier said than done, cause Ryoki still gives Hatsumi the creeps despite his recent sympathetic streak.
At the Narita's life is only getting more complicated. We are already aware of Hatsumi's tribulations but her sister, Akane, has some issues as well. Her romance has been on hold as Hatsumi's relationship with Ryoki is still uncertain. Some things cannot wait, and with Hatsumi having trouble, now is the best time to make a move. In retrospect, Akane should have known that she had no chance. She used all of her best techniques and still failed. Instead depression and insecurity about her self-image started to settle in.
Volume three finally gives the readers of this series a taste of Azusa?s vengeance. Cruel and full of anger, Azusa could care less who he gets involved in this game of his as long as he finally gets back at the person that has haunted him since his mother?s death. Getting to this side of him has really turned things around for the worse. Poor Hatsumi has to come to a decision some time soon on whether to trust her feelings or to dwell on the trauma of the experience she just went through. And how do Ryoki and Akane fall into all of this?
Too much good stuff!
For those of you looking for some drama this series is oozing with it. In some ways I almost wanted a break from it. The roles that characters are in have completely changed, but there really hasn't been a moment of let up. With the writing being this good, though, I am glad the pace has not slowed down.
For those of you looking for romance, it might be coming but what is there is twisted. Readers might like how some characters are slowly learning how to care but the cruelty and the inexperience is so heavy one can have a difficult time finding much sympathy for most of these characters, let alone want to see them together.
With every volume I get wrapped up more and more with these characters. While my frustration with Hatsumi is only growing with every chapter, the other characters have so many faces finding out which one is the real one is making Hot Gimmick a fascinating read. Right now this might be my favorite translated shojo manga and if the future progresses like this Viz should have the sleeper hit for this year.
Mania Grade: A-
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: A-
Text/Translatin Rating: B+
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: Viz Media
Orientation: Right to Left