High School Girls Vol. #06 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A+
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Released By: DrMaster
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 192
  • ISBN: 1-59796-059-4
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

High School Girls Vol. #06

By Eduardo M. Chavez     February 20, 2006
Release Date: January 01, 2006

High School Girls Vol.#06
© DrMaster

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

What They Say
The school field trip! When directionally-challenged Eriko gets lost while carrying the meat for shabu-shabu, the girls form a search party to look for her... and end up getting lost, too! Find out how many of Odagiri's class actually make it back. Also in this installment are Momoka's beauty tips, after-school sports rush week High-School-Girls-Style, and loads of 4-panel comic strips you'll never see in the Sunday paper!

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 a member of the Bakagun-dan (Idiot Army Corps) second team, Himeji-san in her sexed up school in front of a piece of blue toned panel art. The opposite cover features some more panel art in blue tone, beneath a long volume description.

Inside the printing is pretty good for most of the GN. Pages that were once originally in color have improved a bit since the previous volume, as well. Fortunately, I did not notice too many alignment problems; so overall, the printing is seems to be going back to the levels of earlier editions. The original chapter headers and volume header are intact and are translated. This volume is packed with extras - there is a collection of Oshima Towa's 4 panel manga originally created early on in the series (Coffee Break), a set of color strips made for the bunko version of HGS (High School Girls?!) and a set of strips from new artist Oshima Tomo (Pine Class Memories).

Art alert!!!

Just in case people begin to notice a change in the art and character designs, there is a reason - a new artist. From the middle of volume 6 Oshima Towa began to pass the majority of the drawing duties to Oshima Tomo (her assistant and as of 01/01/2006 now partner). Towa still provides the design work, she does the storyboards and the inking, but Tomo draws the characters and works on the costumes.

Character designs have a few noticeable changes. First Tomo tends to draw a lot more forehead. You can see the difference right on the cover. Himeji still has the same long legs and curly hair, but her forehead is large and high. That makes the eyes Tomo draws look even bigger. He puts in a lot more detail to them (more iris and eyelashes and gives a more defined eyelid). Tomo also draws hair with more detail as well. By using more inking and textures he is able to make the girls' hair look lighter and much more realistic. The girls are still 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. Overall the changes look great, but it took me a little while to recognize Eriko and Momoka (Eriko was already plain, but now she doesn't look as comical with her huge eyes/Momoka's hair is really short now).

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 Towa 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 the Oshima's show 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 sexual innuendo but no crotch shots this time (those were replaced by cleavage jokes). What would you expect from a mangaka with hentai manga drawing experience?

The translation is once again fine (but this title should have been easy enough). I believe this volume was free of major errors, which is something to applaud. At the same time, this volume seemed to have one pet-peeve of mine – awkward text wraps. There are quite a few words that are split between lines at the most obnoxious places. Then there are times when the text was not placed properly in their respective bubbles. Therefore, there definitely is room for improvement. DrMaster has done 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)
What good high school experience is without a great field trip (or two)? Now imagine if you are attending one of the elite all-girl high schools in Tokyo. The trips schools like Saki High should take ought to be amazing. If most schools tend to go to places like Kyoto and Nara, Saki High must splurge a bit, right? Can you imagine the S-Class girls on the sunny beaches of Okinawa? Maybe the Funky girls in customized winter uniforms checking out the Snow Festival in Sapporo? Saki High might even provide a weekend trip where they fly the Bakagun-dan and friends to Pusan, South Korea where they take in the sights and the eats in a culturally rich neighboring nation. One of the perks of going to Saki High has to be making use of that high tuition, right? (All that must not solely go to uniforms, pool heating and gourmet lunch.)

Well Saki High students are sure going to take a unique trip for their second year. The girls are going to go hiking in the hills to the west of Tokyo and Tachigawa. And that is not enough, because like those trips to Kyoto there is a paper due once they return! And did the teachers mention that they all have to wear matching uniforms (like kindergarteners). What is the point of this? Why does one of Japan's elite schools have to go hiking up some random hill with little incentive but a cup of ice cream waiting for them at the top? This is not very lady like! Let's hope everyone makes it back alive!

Back at school, the girls of 2nd-year Pine decide to create their own club. Maybe the teamwork exhibited on that hill inspired something in them. One would have to wonder why the Bakagun-dai would want to create a club when they are the Bakagun-tai (Idiot Army Corps), but even baka-tachi need to feel official sometimes, right? Why should they not be receiving club money and space on campus? Their club should be recognized like everyone else’s; even if their club activities are dubious at best. A club is an extra-curricular activity and being a high school girl does not stop once class is over... That is when it just gets started!

Welcome to the transition period for this series. This is where the manga ends up moving over from their original magazine to Monthly Manga High. Unfortunately, Manga High was not quite monthly for the fist few months or so, therefore readers in Japan have had to settle for repackages of this short series as Futabasha collects enough new content to continue the tanks.

The transition is very evident in the style of writing presented in this volume. While the first half was one continuous story revolving around a field trip, the second half was basically character re-introductions. Actually Oshima even makes fun of this by having the cast introduce themselves at the start of the change over. We are treated to chapters dedicated to Yuma and Kouda, giving readers a deeper look at these character’s personal lives. The stories are very personal, though not quite as creative or raunchy as those seen in the previous volumes. The sick humor is left for the comic strips at the end of the GN. DrMaster made a great move by providing three sets of these. It does not take much effort to tell who drew these and when, but the themes are straight out of the best of HGS. Oshima’s fast-paced humor works perfectly in that format as from first panel to fourth the humor quickly digresses from sweet to toilet humor. The timing is excellent.

Getting caught up with this series is going to be a little depressing for me as HGS was one of my favorite titles for 2005. The raunchy but honest humor and Oshima Towa’s art brought me into this series from day one. But Oshima’s friendships and very personal storytelling kept me coming back. Fear not HGS is once again coming out on a regular basis in Japan as Manga High is quickly becoming a fan favorite, so expect more Bakagun-tai antics around the fall. (I wish DrMaster would release the Bunko and Wideban versions to appease fans like Futabasha did in the meantime) If you haven’t picked up this series yet, do so now. Take it in at your own pace and enjoy a manga that completely pushes the boundaries of translated manga and entertains from start to finish.


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