Indian Summer (aka: Koharu Biyori) Vol. #01 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C-

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Info:

  • Art Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: DrMaster
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 172
  • ISBN: 1-58899-249-7
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Indian Summer (aka: Koharu Biyori) Vol. #01

By Eduardo M. Chavez     March 27, 2005
Release Date: November 13, 2004


Indian Summer (aka: Koharu Biyori) Vol.#01
© DrMaster


Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Mizuki Takehito
Translated by:Michiko Nakayama
Adapted by:

What They Say
Set in the near future, robots are common workers for their human owners. Ready to live a life of mechanical servitude, Yui, a robot maid, has just been purchased by Takaya Murase from the robotic doll distributor, MaidWorks. However, Takaya has other plans for his new servant that doesn't quite include cooking and cleaning house. To her new owner, Yui is like a life-sized doll, for which he can act out his costume-dress-up fantasies. But Yui only wants to serve... Find out how this mismatched pair fares, especially once rival robot maids Minori and Ayumi enter the scene. It's robotic subservient humor at it's best.

The Review
Packaging:
Presented in a B6, this ComicsOne series is in right-to-left format. C1 uses the most of the original presentation designs used by Media Works. C1 keeps the original cover art featuring a "perfect" version of Yui, the lead robot maid in this series, in front of a checkered background. The opposite cover has the real Yui, who is not as prissy and meek as Takaya's dream doll. The title has changed slightly from "Koharu Biyori" (which is kept as a subtitle) to "Indian Summer." I do not get the new title at all, but C1 at least tried to use a font similar to the one used by Media Works.

The printing looks pretty good. Screen tone in particular does not suffer from the distortion present in other C1 titles. As this GN is practically the same size as the Media Works printing I did notice any alignment problems that would have come up when enlarging the scans. Inside ComicsOne includes the original volume header but in black and white instead of color. At the end of the GN, there are three conceptual chapters for this series and two omake chapters made for when this title was moved from Daioh to Moeoh.

Artwork:
Mizuki's art is not really my style. It reminds me a lot of the art for Galaxy Angel, but not as tight. Fangs, a lot of SD and the characters look a little too round for me. I do not really feel these characters are that attractive. I can get how these characters, have this idea about moe and beauty but I cannot see it with so little detailing. Cute sure, but beautiful, I do not think so. I was also annoyed by the lack of diversity Mizuki shows in his costume designs. The main character is supposed to be designing all of these special outfits for his robot, but they do not really look very special.

Backgrounds are not very good; actually, they are plain stale. There are times when time and space just seem to be non-existent. This is really frustrating because the character designs are not very detailed either. The layout is relatively simple, but effective. I was able to see a big difference with the final product, after checking the conceptual chapters included in this GN.

Text/SFX:
While I did not notice any glaring typos or punctuation issues, the translation can be rather clunky at times. I am not sure if it is the extremely passive tense used, but there are moments where the translation does not make much sense or it is un-naturally vague. Japanese can be vague and verb conjugation can make the language extremely passive, but that is difficult to translate easily (especially within a limited amount of space).

SFX are translated with subs in this series. Generally, ComicsOne does this better than most studios and this series is no exception. What makes them unique is their use of smaller subs, so they rarely compromise art in their smaller sized GNs. The use of small subs also gives readers a chance to take in all of the artist's work - character art, background art, layout and writing.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Let us start with a little lesson in the world of Moe. According to the anime lexicon at ANN, Moe is a term used to describe the ideal of youthful and innocent femininity. The concept of moe covers a narrow range of ideal behavior for youthful female characters in manga or anime. To be properly moe, a character must be eager or perky, not overly independent, and call forth a desire in the viewer to protect them and nurture them.

Now that you know that, in Indian Summer Murase Takaya is obsessed with this idea. At home, his apartment is full of dolls he has collected and personalized to achieve this ideal. He has a whole room dedicated to his moe dolls, all young, innocent and beautiful. This was not enough for Takaya. For a while, he has been waiting, saving his pennies to fully achieve that moe ideal... through a robot he has purchased. Ah, the perfect plan; lonely geek who cannot get a real woman to feed his romantic needs gets a machine to do the job. Because of Isamov's laws of robotics, a robot cannot ignore their master's requests; therefore, he can have his wishes answered without any confrontation in the privacy of his home. This robot could be the perfect doll, a living doll innocent and beautiful. Those at the robot store would have suggested a lover-bot, but fate and Takaya's concept of moe had him choosing a maid robot instead.

Takaya was not aware of what he was getting into when he purchased Yui, the rude, violent and assertive maid-bot. If she were not good looking, Yui would be the complete opposite of what moe is about. Nevertheless, none of this is her fault, she as a robot wanted to find a home. She needed to have a place for herself in the world. Unfortunately, she is a maid robot not a lover bot. Her place is in the kitchen cooking. She would rather be cleaning. She would rather be making her master happy through housework, but his needs must have him taking care of her, dressing her five times a day, washing her and admittedly doing all the things he cannot do with a real woman. He has no shame, for this mania is his obsession. At the same, even if Yui is a robot (a programmed doll in Takuya's) she has feelings and this definitely shames her. But why should a master care, when his needs are all that a robot, maid or lover bot, should consider.

Comments
The genre of moe has been under-represented in North America for good reason... it is a small market for publishers but a big market for doujin artists. Moe takes the bishojo to an extreme. Its fundamental ideal is naivety and youthful beauty. In essence, the idea of owning a beautiful submissive lady is at the core.

Apart from manga and doujinshi, moe often manifests itself in doll making and could be a factor in the subculture of life size dolls, as well. In Takaya Mizuki-sensei has created a character that through frustration has grown bored by the limitations of doll making. His perfect little women can be dressed in his favorite designs and posed in angles to please his taste. However aesthetically pleasing they may look, there is no real sexual tension there. These "expressions" he thinks up are not genuine. All of his work is one-sided. A robot fixes that. A robot is programmed with some sort of emotion but as a robot is not programmed to resist or fully be independent. Mizuki makes robots perfect women in this manga; real ones are too much work but still nice to look at.

While Mizuki tries to paint this weird picture of how strange this is, but almost goes to far with this concept by touching on some of the more negative aspects of moe - pedophelia, incest and a fear males have for women's rights. Women's rights are completely ignored; actually, they are made fun of as Takaya often manipulates his robot by pointing out her inadequacies as a doll (not even a robot). So, even though Yui admits she is harassed, she gives in over fear of losing her master and being scraped. Takaya also says he would treat real women differently, but his behavior does not allow him to consider women as anything but things. Therefore, even though he asks somewhat respectful, he believes women should be "ladylike," which means they should be weak and be supported by men. I love the line on page 18, when confronted about his crying and coddling, he yells out, "Say that I'm manly!" What a wuss.

Then there are scenes where this story completely moves into the brink of controversy - fathers drooling over their own daughters or men bathing nude with elementary school girls that are not their own children. I know this is done in the name of fun, but seriously, in almost every culture this is flirting with social taboo of criminal proportions. Now what really had me feeling uneasy about this was how these scenes had little value to the plot. A father sneaking peaks at his daughter’s panties is funny, but weird. A moe freak bathing alone with an elementary school girl he just met is weird (and this was not funny).

When I went into this series, I was expecting a title that would parody the genre of moe and celebrate the genre, similar to how Maniac Road is a history of the otaku. Well Indian Summer definitely introduces readers to moe, but after that is done, it has repeated the same thing over and over. “What else will Takaya get Yui to wear?” This is like the moe version of the monster of the week. There is no substance, just an awkward feeling that moe is definitely naughty and possibly on the verge of perverted. I guess knowing that Media Works moved this title from their bishojo heavy Monthly Dengeki Daioh to Quarterly Dengeki Moeoh is a signal that this title is one not well received either and it definitely shows. I guess I am not sold on Indian Summer yet. The idea has grown tired in only one volume, but also because there is no plot and the cast is lacking much personality. If fan service, without nudity, is what you are looking for maybe this will fill that need. I can find better fan service and better writing elsewhere.

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