High School Girls Vol. #04 (Mania.com)

By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Friday, September 23, 2005
Release Date: Monday, August 01, 2005

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Oshima Towa
Translated by:Michiko Nakayama
Adapted by:

What They Say
Memories! Take a walk back in time to Kouda and Eriko's different junior high schools. We learn how each set of friends grew close together and a few of the bad-girl hijinks they were up to during their respective junior high school years. Then turn up the heat back in the present. With nothing to do the gang pesters Ayano and her boyfriend with a torrent of sexual questions to broaden their virgin minds. It's the blind leading the bling in High School Girls #4.

The Review
Packaged in a B6 sized GN, High School Girls is printed in its original format, right-to-left. DrMaster basically used all of the Futabasha cover design concepts. On the front cover of this volume is another member of the original Bakagun-dan (Idiot Army Corps) Kouda Akari in her school uniform standing in front of a piece of pink toned panel art. The opposite cover features some more panel art in pink tone, beneath a short volume description.

Inside the printing is pretty good for most of the GN. There is more smudging in this volume than usual. Pages that were once originally in color are not very clean, either. This is a problem with many studios that scan their manga, instead of using digital files or original plates (lots of bleeding and the penciling is almost non-existent). Fortunately, I did not notice too many alignment problems; so overall, the printing is not horrible (though I have seen better from this series). DrMaster left in the original chapter headers and volume header. This volume features an ato-gaki where the girls talk about the official Joshi Kousei website (Japanese only).

Character designs are very cute. Drawn to scale and at normal proportions, these girls look really like healthy high school freshmen even though this initially ran in a seinen magazine known for busty designs. Characters have a great deal of variety in their designs, with varied body types, hairstyles and color, and personalized school uniforms. What I really liked is how there are so many different personalities that match the designs: sporty, genki, high fashion, trendy and plain Jane. This even involves the adults as well, so the entire cast looks as fun as their personalities are.

Backgrounds are okay and they are improving. I was initially surprised by how stale they were but Oshima seems to have picked up on how to best integrate the elite private high school to show off the high class world more. The layout makes up for the backgrounds. Character placement especially can be pretty fun, but overall Oshima shows a lot of variety with panel placement and size, and interactive perspective (that would be better suited for action manga but works well with comedy as well).

I wanted to also note that this volume does have some frontal nudity - bosoms. There is some sexual innuendo and there are some the most gratuitous crotch shots and camel-toes I have seen in older teen rated manga (all done purposely to highlight the raunchiness of all girl high school life from the mangaka's personal experiences). There is also some underage drinking. Therefore, this is definitely for older teens.

One thing I noticed has happened since DrMaster picked up some of ComicsOne's titles is how the translations have continued to improve. I believe this volume was free of major errors, which is something to applaud. DrMaster has also dome well with how they keep some of the original jokes intact. They might sound strange but they are often dissected in the gutters. Most of the nicknames have not been changed and they use notes here and there to describe items/concepts unique to Japanese culture.

SFX are all translated. With this series DrMaster has used a mix of subs and overlays. This concept works but it is not very consistent.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
For a single high school girl there are a few times of year where everything seems wrong. They world seems to turn it’s back to them and while the rest of the world is having fun, the world could not be more cruel to them. Towa-sensei shares with her readers the ups and downs for the single girl in a couple's world.

First is Christmas time where everything from the weather to the food reminds them of something they are missing. Why does everything have to be so joyous and pleasant? All the decorations are so red and lovey-dovey. The happy couples are so clingy in the cold. All the food is either phallic or sensual. What is so wrong with just staying home? It's cold and people should conserve energy instead of wasting it on stupid colored lights! Real Christmas should be spent with friends not lovers. Then people can share their experiences and memories of the past year together, as they drink and get fat on cake.

Then there is spring time. If there is not a worse season for singles than spring. Couples are often hanging out together. They all over each other walking under cherry blossoms. They start to wear lighter clothing. Oh the flirting is non-stop. To combat that the girls take their act on the road to party like singles can. Nothing beats getting drunk outdoors among friends... Except maybe torturing boys while you are drunk among friends.

Finally, there is the most horrible fact of life that is - physical exams! A full day of getting touched by people as they measure, read and poke the bodies of young women. Who knows what these people do with the information. Who among the school administration needs to know the bust size of their students? Is there going to be a test or something. Making matters worse is how these girls have to spend the whole day in nothing but a cape and their panties! There are male teachers hanging out ogling the student body.

High school life is never easy. Being single makes it even worse. But what hurts you can only make you stronger right? Especially if you can use it against your friends later on.

The horrors of high school life are revealed in this volume. Some of you might think tests and PE drills are the worst that can happen at school, that does not even scratch the surface. There are things that happen at school that are much more frightening. Take your own friends for example. Your friends can be your closest allies in many ways, but they also know all of your weaknesses. If they felt like using that against you they could honestly ruin a girl. Think about what they could do with an old yearbook? All the old pictures with evidence of secrets long kept hidden. Think about what they can do to someone's rep if they started blabbering about people when they are drunk? Even worse the power of a report card can bring the worst out of relatives for months! Ever had a physical exam before? Getting measured, poked and felt up by random people for the "health" reasons. What kind of scam is that?

Oshima-sensei once again delves into the not so pretty world of high school girls with brutal honesty. She does this by recalling real life situations that are equally funny, sweet, raunchy and disturbing. Each chapter brings readers closer to the lives of the Bakagun-dan as we get to see their superficial problems and their great bittersweet moments. The perspective the girls have on the world may not be very realistic but their reactions to what they experience feel so real and is so easy to relate to its refreshing. This outlook on life is so much fun and so different from what I usually see in seinen manga, I almost forget this manga runs in a bishojo magazine.

Honest to gosh, this series is a hoot from start to finish. Oshima just seems to bring out the humor out of every situation possible. Romance, sex, siblings, reunions, exams, body functions, make-up... you name it she can think up a life experience to write down and draw about. I don't think one can find another title with lines like the following... "Do people give hickeys when their gang-banging?" "I'm so jealous of guys! I bet they can pee in a cup smoothly!" "I also did a 'tightening exercise' while I was at it!" "What head do they refer to when they say 'head'." "It's the hole that exits, the hole you put it in, and another hole that exits." These lines show the brutal, literally unadulterated humor that Oshima presents with her growing cast of 17-year-olds. And knowing that she is able to push the line without DrMaster censoring this must be applauded, as well.

This title is quickly moving up my must buy list with every volume. If you are not reading this title you either: A) never went to high school or B) don't know manga. High School Girls has all the elements of a good manga - entertaining, high replay value, accessibility, challenging with crossover appeal. Just be warned of the honesty though, for it could make people either cry or laugh out loud.

Mania Grade: A-
Art Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B
Text/Translatin Rating: B
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Released By: DrMaster
MSRP: 9.99
Pages: 216
ISBN: 1-597896-084-5
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left