I'm Not Your Stepping Stone Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
By:Danielle Van Gorder
Review Date: Monday, December 03, 2007
Release Date: Friday, November 30, 2007
Translated by:Leona Wong
What They Say
Sakai Kazuya is a 23-year-old man in love. Unfortunately, the object of his affection is a lovely woman only interested in well-educated men. Sakai never finished high school and has been living off of his brawn, not his brains. So he enlists the help of her younger brother, Ezumi Masashi, to help him pass the high school entrance exam, his first step toward to becoming a well-educated man. Ezumi is happy to help, but his services come with a very steep fee. And Ezumi isn't interested in money, but has his sights on some of Sakai's other assets...
This certainly isn't your average romance!
The cover features a shot of a tough looking Sakai with Ezumi, who looks older than the high school student he's supposed to be. The cover overall is slightly busy with the title repeating in the background, but with minimal added elements it works fairly well. This volume includes a full color dust jacket and color pages. The printing is pretty good, with crisp lines and dark blacks, although some of the heavier screentone looks overly dark. It's hard to tell if that's due to the reproduction, or if it was that way in the original.
Kano's art features distinctive, sharp-featured men, heavy use of screentone, and sweat - lots of sweaty men. She's definitely fond of explicit scenes, heavy muscle, and sweaty men. While her linework is clean, her use of screentone is very heavy at times, making some pages feel very dark. Overall, this is a very attractive book, although the art likely won't appeal to fans of cutesier artwork.
All sound effects are subtitled on the page in a font that closely matches the original. The translation flows smoothly with few rough spots.
Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Sakai, a 23 year old construction worker, falls for a woman while on the job one day. When he asks her brother, Ezumi, about her, he finds out something that crushes him - she's only interested in educated men! Sakai only graduated from middle school, but with the help of elite prep school student Ezumi, he might be able to pass the necessary exams to further his education. There's just one complication - Ezumi wants to be paid...with Sakai's body.
Ezumi's motives aren't the purest, but he ends up falling in love for the first time in his life with Sakai, and can't deal with the competition from his own sister. His loss of control is something he can't seem to understand or deal with, but his feelings for Sakai are as real as they are uncontrollable.
Despite learning the truth about Ezumi's manipulation, Sakai continues to study for the exams, and pay for his tutoring in their usual fashion. Ezumi's obsession is destroying his concentration at school, however, and he ends up taking a huge drop in the class rankings. Saitou, one of Ezumi's classmates who appears to have motives of his own beyond simple concern for a classmate, takes this personally and attempts to drive Sakai away.
As the test looms closer, things get progressively more tense between the pair. Has their relationship developed to the point where it can survive the misunderstandings, lack of communication, and interference from others?
This is unquestionably an odd book, but the strange dynamic between controlling yet vulnerable Ezumi and the older, rough and straightforward Sakai is a lot of fun. Still, emotion and character development are not the primary focus of this book - the sex is, lots of it, and very graphic sex at that. While readers looking for something with more depth are likely to be disappointed, this is likely to be a very popular book, and with reason.
Mania Grade: B
Art Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: 18 & Up
Released By: 801 Media
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: I'm Not Your Stepping Stone