Sundome Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • Art Rating: C+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Released By: Yen Press
  • MSRP: 12.99
  • Pages: 224
  • ISBN: 0-7595-2850-0
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: SunDome

Sundome Vol. #01

By Matthew Alexander     February 01, 2008
Release Date: January 31, 2008

Sundome Vol.#01
© Yen Press

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Kazuto Okada
Translated by:Christine Schilling
Adapted by:

What They Say
An indecent proposal. A far from ordinary girl. Hideo Aiba’s boring life just go far more . . . frustrating.

The Review
Sundome is a humorous look at horny otaku high school kids and a sadistic girl wandering between panty shots and masturbatory antics. But will a second volume reveal enough character development for the two main characters to keep this series chugging along?

This book’s cover stands out on the shelf as both the front and back are entirely white with the exception of the title text and a color picture of Kurumi with her hands down the skirt of her school uniform. The black and white picture on the back cover shows Kurumi in an equally seductive pose, pulling up her skirt to tug on the knot of her side-tied panties. This is a ‘Mature’ title, so Yen Press has a ‘Parental Advisory’ logo printed on the front cover. The logo reminds me of the ‘Explicit Lyrics’ warning for CD’s and I tend to prefer the warning labels that are removable stickers.

The print reproduction looks almost as good as Yen Press’ earlier books, with a color page insert and good page alignment. However, the ink on some of the pages appears the slightest bit lighter than the rest of the book. This may just be my impression and no fault of the printers, it just bothered me somewhat as I read the book. Extras include a sneak peak of volume two and detailed ‘Translator Notes’. These notes are appreciated as the translator left the many Japanese cultural quips and sayings intact.

Despite the fact that most manga released in the U.S. share the more standard art styles seen in popular shojo, shonen, and seinen series, there are also plenty of Japanese artists using a more ‘comicky’ style. Each of these styles usually lends itself to the particular theme of the artist’s story and I can appreciate each style for what it accomplishes. The ‘comicky’ style of ‘noodle-limbs’ and over-exaggerated facial expressions in nearly every panel is commonly seen in comedies and it works well enough. Being a comedy, Okada’s ‘comicky’ art style should work well with Sundome, but the story is also very provocative. Much of this book revolves around sexual situations and fanservice, which I don’t feel works as well with a ‘comicky’ art style. Okada’s characters seem flat, and that creates stiff looking characters. This causes problems because female depictions tend to work against the feeling of sexiness their actions try to evoke. Perhaps with time Okada’s skill will increase, giving better flow to the art and story. But for now, the art and story seem to wrestle with each other during the sexual situations.

Sundome is a high energy story with a lot of cultural jokes and word play. This is where many fans disagree on how much the translation should be adapted or left alone. For this book at least, the translation reads more literally than many other U.S. released manga I’m familiar with. There is a good ‘Translator Notes’ section to help the reader with the various word play jokes, which is the only way a translation like this can really work. However, between the frantic story-telling and cultural jokes, I did feel almost jostled while reading the story. If this was Okada’s intention, which I think it probably was, then the translator did a good job recreating this atmosphere for the English reader.

The original Japanese SFX remain unmodified with small transliterations placed alongside or in the nearby gutter. The SFX are also translated into English and placed in the gutters, so overall there is very little modification to the artwork.

Contents: (Oh yes, there may be spoilers)
Hideo is a high school kid with few friends and low self-esteem. Yes, this same old cliché, but do you really want to read about a guy that has everything he wants? But that is beside the point. The one thing that helps Hideo get through his mundane life is his school club, the Roman Club. This club presents itself as the ‘boyhood’ club, the club that celebrates the joys of doing things boys enjoy. Things such as researching UFO’s, hunting for ghosts, watching anime and reading manga, and of course lusting after women (which leads to lots of masturbating). Of course, the rest of the student body merely sees the Roman Club as a bunch of otaku’s. Nonetheless, the Roman Club is much more than that to its members. They believe in getting good grades, attending college, and becoming successful businessmen and doctors. The best way they can think of accomplishing these goals is by avoiding 3D women at all costs, until they graduate from high school of course. In fact, the club even has a scholarship fund available to any student that graduates as a virgin. Only problem is, the club alumni administering the scholarship fund are always sending ‘assassins’, or virginity assassins if you will, after the junior members. Somehow, these incredibly hot assassins always know each club members fetish (they are quite varied), hence not a single one of the Roman Club has actually ever received the college scholarship.

While a funny concept, nothing about this really separates this story from so many others. That is until the arrival of Kurumi Sahana. Kurumi is a transfer student that meets Hideo in her first class of the day. Hideo is instantly infatuated with her, as she is the only girl that he has ever fallen in love with at first sight. The story turns from the ordinary when Kurumi comes to check out the Roman Club. Hideo is sure she won’t be interested, but her desire to join the club blossoms when she discovers the Roman Club’s ‘Secret Book of Masturbation’. This is the ultimate book to help each member get through high school without being tempted by those of the opposite sex.

Kurumi is obviously much more sexual than your average high school girl. In fact, she is truly fascinated with the masturbation book, commenting to herself that she never thought of trying ‘that’. After a few moments, she demands Hideo try the ‘Nail Masturbation’ right in front of her. This kicks off all the entailing antics in this series, however I felt Hideo gave in way to easily, despite the ensuing hilarity. That aside, this begins Hideo’s twisted relationship with Kurumi. She makes him swear to obey her every word in exchange for her sexual teasing. Sounds like a good deal. Only problem is she won’t allow him to come. In my opinion, blue balls is not a good deal. Then again, when I was Hideo’s age, I probably would have made a similar deal. Just not with the nail masturbation (what kind of person does that?).

Much of this volume revolves around Hideo’s duties as new club president, trying to keep up with Kurumi’s twisted sexual antics, and attempting to make it through school. Hideo’s personality and fear of standing out in a crowd reminded me of Welcome to the NHK. Even more so, is the way Kurumi’s various jobs force Hideo to become a stronger person without realizing it. Thinking his trials are merely for the chance to receive sexual teasing, Hideo fails to see that he has bettered himself. Whether it’s learning how to swim to retrieve a rock with Kurumi’s phone number on it or standing up to bullies for a chance to grope Kurumi, Hideo is slowly becoming a more balanced and self-confident person. He still has weird fetishes, but maybe he’ll be better able to function in society by the end of this?

Forget Hideo for a moment, why is Kurumi doing these things? Is she purely getting her rocks off from degrading another person? What is her ultimate goal and what happened in her past?

Sundome is the type of manga not seen much on American bookstore shelves. By that I mean, stories that fall between a teenage comedy and an ero-manga. Sure, there are plenty of manga with nudity, or adult action titles with cursing and sex scenes, such as Koike’s stuff or Berserk for example. But there aren’t so many comedies high on the sexual situations that aren’t full blown ero-manga. Sundome reminds me of a 1980’s R-rated comedy, funny story with plenty of cursing and nudity. Granted, Sundome doesn’t actually have that much nudity. Most of the story revolves around extremely provocative panty-shots and a non-stop ticket to the land of nip-slips. Actually, they are more like areola slips. Kurumi doesn’t wear a bra, so there are plenty of titillating shots of the upper portion of her breasts and through the shirt nippleage. That is of course, if you like smaller breasted Japanese girls. If that isn’t your thing, luckily for you the big breasted Kyouko mixes into the Roman Club as she jealously hopes to discover why all the boys like Kurumi so much.

I think most manga fans are either going to love this story or hate it. Some people will be completely turned off by all the weird fetishes the Roman Club members have, while others will appreciate the comedy these situations can create. I personally liked this book and caught myself laughing aloud a number of times. However, I can also see its flaws and the fact that I can’t think of many female manga fans that want to read about guys masturbating and lusting after a teenage dominatrix. Then again, I could be completely wrong about that one.

My real question about this series revolves around Kurumi. Is she merely a sadist that found a boy toy to pass her time? Even if that’s the case, what caused her to become that way? This may be the tipping point for this series. If the author delves into Kurumi’s character and past, and she develops into a different/better person alongside Hideo, then this might be a really impressive series. On the other hand, I can see readers quickly growing bored with Sundome if each volume revolves around Kurumi’s refusal to have sex with Hideo, all the while making him degrade himself for her apparent amusement.

In the end, Sundome is something different from most American published manga and something I’m definitely hoping to see more of. With Tokyopop’s release of Manga Sutra: Futari H and Yen Press’ release of Sundome, perhaps those of us looking for these types of stories are glimpsing a brighter future. Lastly, there is also a live action adaptation of Sundome if you’re interested.

Recommended for fans of sexually explicit stories with perverted humor.


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