Getting Some Strange – ‘Interspecies Reviewers’ Volume 1 Manga Review

A QandA Manga Review for ‘Interspecies Reviewers’ Volume 1

Interspecies Reviewers Manga Review

What’s the manga? Interspecies Reviewers, Volume 1.

Hmm, okay, and what’s it about? Guess.

Sorry, what? You want me to “guess” what this manga is about? I mean, this is you we’re talking about so something perverted no doubt… is it about reviewing the attractiveness of monster girls? Good guess, and pretty close to the correct answer. Specifically its a fantasy series about a group of guys who go around to the various red-light districts in this fantasy world and partake in the pleasures of the flesh and then post their ‘reviews’ of the unique girls they sleep with on a bulletin board. Basically, its trip advisor for a fantasy brothels with an emphasis on the particulars of the girls employed in said brothels.


That’s somehow more perverted than I could have imagined. You musn’t have much of an imagination then…

Wait, isn’t “reviewing” women kinda, pretty sexist? I mean that’s a surface level interpretation. All the women who get “reviewed” are prostitutes who are providing a service, are being paid for it and benefit from being “reviewed” not only by exposure but by getting a more tailored clientele as the result of said reviews. It’s not like this is scummy classroom ranking list of the ‘hottest girls in class’, our reviewers take their job seriously!

Gives a new spin on “tentacle play”.

Right. So what’s the appeal of this manga then? Is it just a smorgasbord of fan-service related to non-human looking women? You’d think so but visually this series is pretty tame, all things considered. I mean sure it’s got a smattering of nudity (mostly towards the end of the volume) but the majority of the ‘erotic’ content comes in the form of the dialogue and situations. Our protagonists aren’t afraid to talk about sex and the various physical differences between humanoids and the various fantasy inspired women (and sometimes men) they sleep with. Truth be told this series is a lot denser than I expected both in the sheer volume of content per manga volume and the elaborate detail and world-building it employs. I’ve read full-blown Isekai that don’t commit this much time to character building and that in-of-itself is impressive.

One eyed people do it differently, apparently.

I… I’ve got so many questions, I don’t know where to begin… Well try because I’m willing to answer any and all.

Okay. So what about the protagonists then? We have a sort of rotating roster of male protagonists who journey together to one particular establishment per chapter usually four at a time. Though the three prominent figures in the series are the human Stunk, the elf, Zel and the angel Crimvael. Stunk being the human acts as the audience analogue to terrific comedic effect, especially early on as we see him exit an elf brothel having slept with a cute and spritely elf girl, only for his friend Zel to admonish him for sleeping with “an old hag”. It’s at this point we learn the differences between priorities when it comes to desirability in a sexual partner. Stunk (and the audience) sees a cute elf girl as a cute girl and therefore desirable but Zel, a fellow elf sees that she’s actually 500 years old and therefore stinks of “rotten mana” and instead preferences a 50 year old human woman, remarking how “humans are the best because you’re never going to find one over a hundred [years old]”.

An example of the review format. Lots of these in the first volume, lots of reading.

So it’s a comedy then? Didn’t I make that clear? It’s absolutely a comedy first and an ecchi (or whatever) second. I’m not the first to make this comparison but it’s got more than a little bit in common with the anime ‘Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt’ in that its main characters are perverted and crude and obsessed with sex. The only difference is that ‘Interspecies Reviewers’ 100% commits to format and contains pages and pages of detailed descriptions that almost makes it feel like overkill.

I wanna meet these Limim.

Do I sense a negative incoming? Not a “negative” but rather an ‘unexpected’–in that I didn’t expect to be reading so much in a sex-comedy series. It’s all good stuff, it’s all interesting and entertaining but there’s a lot of it so just prepare yourself for it. That’s all i’m saying…

Anything else you wanted to add? For me the most interesting character is Crimvael the angel–not just because of the idea of a fallen angel frequenting fantasy brothels is inherently funny to me–but because this character actually possess both genders (something the other two protagonists don’t know about) and so his experience with sex is very different to the almost painfully heterosexual Stunk and Zel. There’s a great scene where the three of them go to a brothel that has a spell that turns its customers into the opposite gender and while Stunk and Zel decide to go for purey lesbian experiences, Crimvael picks a hyena woman who we later learn are a species who have penises (and ones larger than hyena men for that matter!)

Who knew “chub” could be a sound effect!

Right, so a bisexual trap character? I mean, sure, if you want to put it that way.

What? What’s wrong with that I said? Probably a lot, but what I mean is that this series highlights just how ridiculous the fact that gender and sexuality is something some people consider to be absolutely binary. It’s not, and the sooner people realise that gender and sexuality is fluid the sooner we can get rid of pointless labels that are used to persecute and minimise those who are perceived as “different”.

Some women have dicks, deal with it!

Well this review took a turn… Yeah, they tend to when I’m involved…

Anyway, final review and recommendation for ‘Interspecies Reviewers’ Volume 1? While almost entirely focused on sex, its presented in such a cartoon-y and “rounded” visual style that I think even people who aren’t traditionally “into” ecchi manga could enjoy this. Yes it’s still sexy but it’s also silly and funny but with an exhaustive attention to detail that draws the reader into the world. Certainly not for prudes, as there’s discussions of genitals and orgasms and sexual fluids aplenty but likewise it’s never truly gross–it’s just honest. But then maybe I’ve spent a bit too much time reading actual hentai doujins so this just seems quaint by comparison…

I want to learn more about this ragtag trio of snake person, fairy and sentient lobster who all enjoy orgies.

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Elf Help Guide – ‘Plus-Sized Elf’ Volume One Manga Review

An Anime QandA Review for ‘Plus-Sized Elf’ Volume One.

What’s the manga? Plus-Sized Elf, Volume One.

And what’s it about… I mean I could probably guess from the title but tell me anyway? It’s about Naoe-kun an unassuming massage therapist for the ‘Smiley Boar’ health clinic in Tokyo, he works there not just as a massage therapist but also helping his clients live healthier lives. One day an unusual looking woman shows up, covered head-to-toe with sunglasses and a beanie–she’s clearly hiding something… turns out she’s an elf named Elfuda from another world and she has a ~big~ problem, she loves french fries so much so that she’s gained a bit of weight and is now too self-conscious to return home to her elven kingdom. So Naoe decides to help Elfuda with a diet and exercise plan so she can live a happier, healthier life.

Thicc elf problems.

…Okay that’s kind of unexpected, I thought this was going to be some perverted manga with fetishistic tendencies. First of all, no kink-shaming, secondly it still kinda is… like while this manga spends a decent chunk of its time explaining various exercise routines and healthy living habits it also indulges in it’s fair share of ~THICC~ fan service. I don’t know if I’d go as far as to call it ecchi, but it does have ecchi shots, also unexpected nipples. I don’t know why I didn’t expect it but they are at least in the context of a hot springs.

She just wants to wear her magical items without them getting shredded by the ~thiccness~.

Wow, first volume and there’s already a hot springs scene, huh? This manga wastes no time introducing us to its colourful cast of female characters, there’s so many I might have to list them just to make sure I don’t forget any:

Elfuda the titular ‘Plus-Sized Elf’.
Naoe’s curvaceous boss, Ino–and the only other human character so far (who’s also happens to be in her forties–you go manga having attractive older women!)
Kuroeda a dark elf who is experiencing a loss in magical powers due to her long hours standing in retail work–she also is having trouble “equipping” magical garments as ‘da booty too thicc’.
Mero a fishmonger and mermaid concerned with her flabby arms.
Kusa a mandragora (plant woman) with sore back and shoulders because of the flower that blooms on her head.
Olga an ogre who’s love for booze has given her a potbelly in stark contrast with the rest of her muscular frame.
Laika a husky lycanthrope who in canine form gets given lots of high-calorie treats from human which results in her human form being chubby too.

She was just a regular dog he was petting before she transformed!

I’ll admit that is a lot of characters to keep track of from the get-go! Yes, but they’re all rather distinct enough that it’s never really confusing. Also, I do wonder if this is going to be a bit more ~anthology~ with regards to its characters, rather than having them stick around for every volume. It might end up like Nurse Hitomi’s Monster Infirmary (which this sort of reminded me of) and just have a core cast of a few recurring characters while having a few new “cases” and therefore different characters each volume.

Racism in the elven world too. How sad.

Fair enough? So what’s the manga like? What’s its tone? Etc. It’s a light-hearted comedy, but its focus on healthy living and exercise almost gears it towards an adult audience, which makes sense since every new character in the manga are working age adults. It’s weird in a sense because so many manga (and by extension anime) focus on much younger casts of characters that having characters who ostensibly have to take responsibility for their actions and have to deal with realistic ailments (albeit in fantasy creatures) makes this a unique experience–at least for me. I guess I’m so used to stories set in high-schools that characters with lives more close to mine made for an interesting read!

Apparently this is the secret for Mermaids being able to have temporary legs on land.

Then would you say you’re the target audience, for a change? Well I don’t appreciate your wording, anyone can read anything regardless of age or target audience and still appreciate it, but yes as someone who doesn’t have the best diet, drinks too much alcohol and works a (sometimes) physically demanding retail job this felt very targeted to me. But that didn’t make me like it more or less.

The more you know!

I guess the big question is did you like it? I really did, I was dubious of the premise but I’d read anything monster girl or monster girl adjacent. But I was pleasantly surprised by what I found. Funnily enough the character I liked the most was the dude Naoe, he genuinely wants to help these girls, even if it’s not someone who’s enlisted his help in a professional capacity and is just someone he happens to see in his day-to-day life. Also, despite the title it’s not all about Elfuda, which I’m kind of thankful for as she is a ~bit~ immature for my liking–though I can’t fault her love for all things potato, that’s a love we share.


She loves her fries!

Anything else you wanted to add? Calling Elfuda “Plus-Sized” seems a tad questionable. I mean I know Japanese perceptions on what is ‘larger’ are different to the west but she’s hardly that much larger than Shera from How Not To Summon A Demon Lord and I don’t recall anyone calling her too fat for an elf (well maybe Rem). But I think it’s more the Western publishers wanting a more ‘clickbait’ title for lack of a better term. In Japanese the translation of ‘Elf-san wa Yaserarenai’ is ‘Elf Can Not Lose Weight’ which ~feels~ more accurate to her struggle because she can’t stop eating french fries which results in continual diet failures–but that’s a minor quibble I suppose. Also I really like the fact that Naoe even tells Elfuda that she’s not actually problematically “overweight” and says that he prefers chubby girls, though I’m guessing that’s the author speaking through his protagonist more than anything. Still, body positivity for the win!

Olga the Ogre has some unwanted ‘love handles’.

Final recommendation and score for ‘Plus-Sized Elf’ Volume One? If a slice of life comedy with thicc monster girls and a heavy sprinkling of vaguely helpful exercise techniques sounds like an odd combination–it’s because it is, but it works surprisingly well. It’s a well meaning endeavour but never takes itself or its subject matter too serious so remains in the fun “shenanigans” side of the genre. I’ll gladly have seconds of this treat, 83 out of 100.


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Kaiju Just Wanna Be High School Girls – ‘Ultra Kaiju Humanization Project’ Volume One Manga Review

A 20 Question Manga Review of ‘Ultra Kaiju Humanization Project’ Volume One

What’s the manga? Ultra Kaiju Humanization Project, Volume One.

Okay… and what’s it about? Are you familiar at all with the 1966-1967 Japanese live-action television program ‘Ultraman’?

…I don’t think so, no? Then do I have the manga for you!

I said I wasn’t familiar with the series? Why bring it up? What’s going on? Calm down. So I brought it up because this manga is a spin-off of the aforementioned 1960’s television program—I was sort of familiar with it, in that I’d heard of it and undoubtedly had seen images of the titular Ultraman. If you’re not at all familiar with the show, it’s not dissimilar to shows like Power Rangers or the old Godzilla films—what with heroes defeating giant monsters and the fights being performed by people in monster costumes stomping around miniature cities.

Funny how this alien Kaiju looks like a man in a cheaply made costume… *cough cough*

Right, I think I know what you mean… but why are you reviewing a spin-off from a series that old that you’ve never watched? Isn’t that kind of a tough entry bar? This manga’s greatest strength, especially considering its lineage is that no prior information about the Ultraman series is necessary to enjoy this spin-off!

That seems… unlikely… I’m serious. All you’d need to know is what I said above, everything else is dished out surreptitiously throughout the text. Basically, while reading this one volume I went from ‘complete noob’, to ‘relatively informed’ about the Ultraman universe and never did I feel like I was being hammered over the head by dense lore or paragraphs of backstory.

I wish I were a high school girl… wait what?

That’s quite the feat—if true. Why are you so sceptical?

I can see the pictures, it’s all cute girls—this is a cute girl doing cute things manga isn’t it? I can’t take your opinions seriously when you’ve under the influence of cute girls. Listen, I’ll gladly admit that I bought this because I liked the character designs—but genuinely this is kind of a unique series (at least for me) that has a lot of things that elevate it above the usual CGDCT fare.

I love their costumes!

Uh-huh, like what? Well first of all there’s the premise, which is that after Kaiju (the big battle monsters) are defeated by Ultraman they’re sent to the Kaiju graveyard and reincarnated as High School Girls! And so right away we’re dealing with these monstrous creatures suddenly taken the form of cute girls and not only that, all of the Kaiju (at least the one’s introduced so far) were male so there’s the added complication of them having changed gender too!

So does it deal with the emotional consequences of a person—or rather Monster’s identity suddenly changed? Well, ah… not to a great degree, to be honest most of the Kaiju make the adjustment to being high school girls’ pretty quickly, which in of itself is pretty amusing. Added to that they also have all the powers in-tact that they had as monsters and it makes for a pretty unique CGDCT series!

These cute girls can be scary too!

What I’m hearing is that it’s just a CGDCT series with some minor tweaks, not that it’s reinventing the wheel? Did I say it was “reinventing the wheel”? No, if you’re a fan of CGDCT this’ll probably be right up your alley, and if not—well unless you’re a ~massive~ Ultraman fan there’s probably not going to be anything for you.

Fair enough. So who are our protagonists? The series mostly follows Mefilas, a “Malicious Alien” class Kaiju with a 10,000 point IQ who used to be able to grow into a 60m high, 20,000 ton Kaiju but is now stuck as a petite high-schooler. The majority of her interactions come in the form of her fellow Kaiju turned school friends, such as Eleking an electric Kaiju, Red King a volcanic Kaiju, Metron a hallucination inducing Kaiju and Temperor a beam weapon Kaiju.

Every character gets one of these bio pages shortly after they’re introduced in the series, fun and informative! Also I love seeing what the character looked like in the TV original.

Right… and they’re all ~so~ cute! And it’s not just their character designs, right from the very first few pages Mefilas proves to have such an adorable personality—which I mean feels kinda strange to say because she’s actually a male Kaiju inside but it’s 2018 a male Kaiju can be a cute girl too!

You’re a weird one, but whatever. So what kind of things happen in the first volume? What makes it worth reading— CUTE GIRLS!

Such a cute blush!

—Aside from cute girls, you maniac… The thing that I found most endearing about this particular CGDCT premise is the characters who, despite embracing their newfound lives of eating sweet treats and drinking tea and studying are still villains intent on defeating Ultraman and taking over the world, and it’s that contrast between their cute appearances and villainous ways that’s so much fun!

I feel like you need to say something negative about the manga. This review has been far too positive if you ask me. I’d say they introduce too many characters in the first volume, I think 8 girls get a formal introduction (complete with a bio page that’s so useful and even shows what they looked like in the original live-action series—it’s so cool!)

Idols; secretly aliens sent to enslave humanity, it all makes sense now!

Hey! We were supposed to be talking the negatives! Oh right. So the problem with introducing so many characters should be obvious, it makes things a little confusing—but then again the character designs are so interesting and unique that I never ~really~ felt all that confused!

Wait. Did you just turn the only negative into a positive? Oops. Okay, I’ll try and take this seriously. As far as CGDCT manga go, it’s very cute and very fun but it isn’t as funny as it could have been—it’s mildly amusing but I think there were some missed opportunities for more ~obvious~ jokes, a lot of the humour comes from the situation rather than actual jokes. Also, while I know they were trying to make the manga is friendly to newcomers as possible I think I would have liked more references to the old series, at least in the form of more still imagery from the original live-action series, perhaps incorporated into flashbacks. If this ever becomes an anime that would be an absolute delight to see flashbacks of these live-action lumbering costumed monsters then back to the animated antics.

What minimal action there is is well drawn and easy to follow which is a bonus!

Well, I guess you ~tried~, still didn’t seem particularly negative. What can I say, it didn’t do much wrong.

Final thoughts and score for Ultra Kaiju Humanization Project Volume One? I didn’t expect to like this manga as much as I did, when I finished it I thought it was enjoyable enough that I needed to write a review straight away (which I did) but as I wrote the review I realised it was even better than my initial verdict. The fact that this manga is so approachable for newcomers to the franchise, seamlessly blends the obviously rich lore and does so in a light and entertaining way without being pandering is something to behold. Some people might look down upon the ‘CGDCT’ genre as “twee” or “simple” and while that might be true—it’s also reductive of a genre that has real value. This is clearly the beginning of a cute, fun and light-hearted franchise but one that carries the potential of being a lot more satisfying given the wealth of material that exists in its narrative universe. Final score: 85 out of 100.

Also the protagonist is attracted to the other Kaiju (in their human high-school girl forms of course), does that make this a yuri?

Other Manga Reviews:

Kaguya-Sama: Love Is War – Volume 1 Review
Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs – Volume 1 Review
Nameless Asterism – Volume 1 Review
Though You May Burn To Ash – Volume 1 Review
World’s End Harem – Volume 1 Review
How To Build A Dungeon: Book Of The Demon King – Volume 1 Review
The Elder Sister Like One – Volume 1 Review
Mononoke Sharing – Volume 1 Review
Yokai Girls – Volume 1 Review
Murcielago – Volume 1 Review
Nurse Hitomi’s Monster Infirmary – Volume 1 Review

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Mutually Assured Seduction – ‘Kaguya-Sama: Love Is War’ Volume 1 Manga Review

Mutually Assured Seduction – A 20 Question Manga Review of ‘Kaguya-Sama: Love Is War’ Volume 1

What’s the manga? Kaguya-Sama: Love Is War, Volume One.

Okay, and what’s it about? It’s a ~romantic comedy~.

*gasp* but don’t you mildly dislike those? I do. ‘Grats on remembering.

So why are you reading something like that, I thought you only bought manga that fits into your narrow demographic of interests—the unholy triad of cute girls, ecchi and harem? Also true, but there was a lot of talk around this manga, lot of interesting ‘buzz phrases’ like it was the “romantic-comedy version of Death Note”—which is about as weird a phrase as seeing something called the ‘Nightmare on Elm Street version of Sleepless in Seattle’… actually that’s not half a bad idea…

I was too lazy to get images from my physical copy of the manga so enjoy much better quality scans for this review! Also this isn’t the main couple this is just the intro to establish the manga’s concept.

Focus, focus! So surely it’s got to be more than a ‘marketing gimmick’ that got you interested? Eh? The main girl kinda looked a bit emo and I’m still a sucker for that emo aesthetic at heart. Unfortunately that’s more artistic license than anything specifically character derived—other than her being a stuck-up, high maintenance snob like a lot of the emo girls I knew in high-school…

Uh-oh… already falling out of love with this manga, are we? Let’s be real for a second I was never “in-love” with it to begin with, my experience with this manga is a legitimate roller coaster of emotions. First of all, starting off by saying your female protagonist belongs to one of the wealthiest families in Japan is going to endear me to them precisely ~zero~ percent—nobody likes wealthy people.

I’m sure some people like wealthy people…Yeah other wealthy people!

Moving on…And she’s smart to boot! What am I supposed to do with this information? Just sit in awe as she goes about and excels in everything that I ever failed at?

Power couple… or they would be if one bothered to confess to the other!

Okay, okay we get it; she’s out of your league! But what about the male protagonist? Miyuki? Eh, he’s okay I guess…

That’s all you have to say? I mean, I guess so… kudos where kudos is due, he may be boring but at least he’s not a blank slate. I thoroughly enjoyed his near constant neurosis at being outshone by Kaguya.

So I’m still not sure what your opinion on this manga is… seems like it’s pushing all the wrong buttons with you? Yup. And yet… I kinda love this damn thing!

Uh… wow, okay that’s unexpected! You’re telling me! I did say this was a roller coaster of emotions and that wasn’t some facile buzz phrase, all throughout I felt like I was combatting expectations and preconceptions only to pretty much completely and utterly fall in love with Kaguya and Miyuki’s childish courting ritual.

Mind games! Relationship edition!

Even the titular Kaguya? Her breasts aren’t that big.

What… wait, no, ‘titular’ as in she features in the title! I know I was just trying to make a dirty joke at your expense.

Grrr…Yes! Even Kaguya! While she’s got ample forehead real estate to rival the likes of Takagi-san—there’s something adorably endearing about seeing a thoroughly well-put-together otherwise flawlessly meticulous individual succumb to relationship related anxiousness and insecurities and anxieties… she’s all the more human for her inexperience in the ways of the heart, which to me is far more interesting than the intellectual mind games they put each other through. But then again maybe I’m just not smart enough to keep up with their intellectual antics!

So the whole “romantic comedy version of Death Note”-thing is the least of your interests here? Okay, while I see the appeal of that as a concept, it doesn’t make for the most approachable protagonists—ultimately I found myself enthralled by the mistakes more than the masterpiece, if that makes sense.

I loved the way he always imagined her being way more sadistic than she actually is. Expectations versus reality – the manga.

Sounds like you’re just wanting to make a quotable quote…We all want to seem smarter to our peers, don’t we? That’s just the human way of doing things?

Probably… so anything else you want to add before we wrap up this review? This will make an amazing anime…

Uh… okay? What makes you say that? Somany moments in this manga feel like reading a highly detailed storyboard of an anime, it’s quite uncanny! Reading this manga felt like somehow I’d already seen the show—at least in some parts—and that I was reading an adaption rather than the other way round. And as luck would have it an anime adaption was recently announced! So I won’t have to wait long to see this manga come to life!

Sweet moment.

Great, so final score and recommendation for Kaguya-sama: Love Is War Volume 1? I think—regardless of your feelings on romance as a genre—there’s probably something to be enjoyed about this manga, it’s just a solidly produced piece of literature (do we call manga literature?) that sort of both meets, exceeds and defies expectations. It’s not perfect, in fact there were times where I was actively annoyed at the thing, but likewise there were times where I was entranced—dare I say ~falling~ for this combative romance tale. War is hell, and this is one hell of a manga; 87 out of 100.

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Bad Romance Does Not Equal Bad Anime – A 20 Question Review of Citrus

Bad Romance Does Not Equal Bad Anime – A 20 Question Review of Citrus

What’s the show? Citrus (2018).

And I take it from that combative, clickbait-y title that you’ve got a score to settle too? I’ve got things I need to say is all, nothing wrong with putting the slant of this review right up in the title, is there?

Mm-hmm, so for those who are unaware; what is Citrus about? It’s about Yuzu, a flashy girl who after her mother remarries has to move to a new city and attend a prestigious all girl’s school. With this remarriage comes a new step-sister, Mei—a cold, no-nonsense kind of girl who also happens to be student council president and granddaughter to the school’s chairman. For Yuzu it’s love or maybe lust… it’s certainly something… at first sight, which is only compounded when Mei plants a kiss on Yuzu seemingly out of nowhere!


So it’s a lesbian relationship between two step-sisters? Alright, let’s get one thing out of the way right off the bat, them being step-sister’s is precisely ~zero~ percent of the reason anyone should condemn this show—they’re step-sisters for literally only hours at the time they first kiss—it’s not like they’ve been living together and growing up together!

So then what’s the point of them even being step-sister’s in the context of the narrative? Isn’t that just to make the manga/anime seem more salacious to the reader perusing it on a bookshelf/streaming service? Maybe that’s what a shrewd publisher thought, maybe the mangaka savvily thought it’d earn him some extra sales by being “controversial” at a glance, but it does serve a huge narrative purpose. In Japan, same-sex relationships are still unfortunately deemed (by a lot of people) as “phases” and at worst “perversions”. Thankfully the country is getting slightly better at accepting it. So by writing Mei and Yuzu as step-sisters it works to further complicate their already messy feelings by throwing any kind of future (i.e. living together, being a couple, getting married) they have together as an almost insurmountable obstacle.


Fair enough, so what kind of relationship do they have? I take it it’s not a conventional one considering the differences in their personalities? That’s an understatement. After the first kiss, Mei acts even colder towards Yuzu, which really hurts her considering that was not only her first kiss with Mei but her first kiss with anyone. From the get-go Yuzu is pretty open and honest about her feelings—or at the very least her ~desires~ which understandably, for a girl going through puberty and a girl who’s just discovered she’s probably gay, is a big damn deal. But Mei only seems to be intimate with Yuzu when it suits her, or when she needs to take control of a situation she doesn’t understand.

So Mei ‘uses’ her sexuality as a weapon over Yuzu? Ehh~ I guess there’s some instances where it could be seen that way, Mei is a complete and utter control freak—she needs it in every facet of her life otherwise she falls apart. Yuzu is free-spirited and kind and on paper she’s completely wrong for Mei—or she would be if she was weak-willed or undetermined. But Yuzu has such conviction and strength of character that not only can she see past Mei’s many many walls she’s built around her heart, but she wants to enter them and set free the broken little girl who’s been left at the centre.


So you’re defending this toxic relationship they have? No. Defending the anime’s existence and defending the representation of a toxic, same-sex relationship are not the same. Which brings me to the title of this review, just because the show represents a potentially toxic, unhealthy and abusive relationship between two girls doesn’t mean it’s a bad anime. Every “romance” anime doesn’t have to be the perfect template, or ‘how-to guide’ on how to conduct a relationship—applying that leap in logic is like saying video games cause real life violence—and we all know how bullshit that argument is.

I think the issue I see is that representations of same-sex relationships are out of the mainstream already which means when one does get the kind of zeitgeist impact that Citrus apparently had it means the scrutiny on how it presents same-sex relationships is a lot higher. If this is an ~average~ person’s first exposure to a story about a same-sex relationships they’re more likely to believe that this is representative of all same-sex relationships. Yeah, and those people are the kind of idiots who sue McDonalds for coffee being too hot!

Easy now. No, I’m sick of something’s popularity being used as an excuse to criticise it because it’s not “representative” of the reality of something. The author wanted to write a messy, potentially problematic story about two step-sisters falling in love and it have all the soap opera style dramatics that they foresaw in such a relationship developing. Citrus shouldn’t be held accountable for being problematic just because it got very popular in the West.


But people are free to commit to discourse about media, people are free to dislike and criticise and “be triggered”, you can’t tell people how to ‘think’ and ‘feel’ about things because you disagree with them. The thing that I have the most issue with is why is Citrus being scapegoated. There’s a bunch other gay manga and anime out there all with different representations of same-sex relationships, if you don’t like the way Citrus is telling it’s story move on and find something new, it existing isn’t harming anyone. Problematic media exists in every genre and what “triggers” someone may be perfectly fine for another. You can criticise Citrus ’til you’re blue in the face but it still has a right to exist as the author’s freedom of expression.

Careful now, you’re starting to sound like one of those people on the internet who use ‘freedom of expression’ as an excuse to be an asshole. Don’t you dare, I hate those people.


Then say what you’re trying to say without being a dick about it. People like Mei exist in real life, I’ve met them, I’ve been friends with them, heck I’ve probably even dated them! She is a deeply flawed individual—some may even say she’s a bit of a c-word, but erasing a person like her from a narrative because it makes it a more palatable experience is just plain dishonest and a bit problematic in it’s own way. I’m glad this show is so messy and confrontational and raw—it makes it more interesting. Yes, I realise there’s damaging stereotypes out there about how same-sex relationships are fetishistic and abusive and unnatural but you can’t put the blame all on one show for the perceptions of ignorant people. And besides, this show has actual positive representations of queer people in it, you just have to wait a while to actually see one.

Care to elaborate? Episode 10 let us get up close and personal with the ‘too pure for this world’ bisexual cutie Sara Tachibana who, despite her appearances is far too wise for her own good and schools Yuzu on what it means to like someone—regardless of their gender. I talked about this terrific episode in greater detail in the single episode review I did for it in Winter 2018. But what this shows, at least to my neanderthal brain, is that not only is the writer capable of a more nuanced and forward-thinking queer character representations but they knew the need for one in Yuzu and Mei’s lives to forge them into better people in general.


And how’s that work out for Sara in the long run? Well, uh… she kinda ends up getting jerked around because Mei and Yuzu are so wrapped up together in their own business… but she’s fine! I mean she seems fine… okay the more I think on it the more I worry about their relationship steamrolling everything good and pure in it’s way…

Wait, you’re not having a sudden change of heart, are you? No, no, no, not at all! I still stand behind this show (and manga’s) narrative decisions. Besides, I never got the sense that the show was ~actively~ condoning Mei’s behaviour, all you have to do is listen to the vaguely sinister music queue’s and dark lighting in these early season scenes to know that Mei’s predatory actions are seen just as that. Romance seldom comes into it—at least not on Mei’s end—Yuzu is another matter entirely.

But it’s different by the end of the season? I’m not going to pretend like this season is close to perfect, there’s the rushed almost conclusion the show pushes in its final minutes that’s both meant to offer a promise of a happy ending ‘one day’ while also functioning as a satisfying way to end an anime should it never get a sequel season. It’s not unearned it just feels a bit too tidy, but such is the way when adapting something that’s not close to finishing.


We’ve talked a lot about the external opinions on the show but not a lot on the show itself (some review this turned out to be) did you want to have a say on it since we’re nearly out of questions? I’ve defended this show fervently but here’s the thing, it’s not even among my favourite shows of the Winter 2018 anime season—it’s not even my favourite Yuri series! It was thoroughly entertaining throughout though, it was cheesy and funny and occasionally dramatic and aesthetically satisfying but I never got the sense it was pandering or fetishistic or fan-servicey or even the least bit arousing—and I’m usually all for girl-on-girl anime shenanigans! It told a sorta complicated relationship drama, sorta well but it did it with enough style and intrigue and personality that I can’t help but appreciate it.

So what’s your final score and recommendation for Citrus? Citrus is the kind of show I think of fondly now and again—the manga perhaps less so, but that’s a discussion for another day. It’s clear what it wants to be and despite commanding more attention than it probably ever intended to I think it succeeded in telling a story fraught with messy emotions and complicated people. It’s far from perfect, in fact it’s damn near silly at times—but the connection between Yuzu and Mei is something tangible and I can’t help but be drawn in by their story. It’s sweet, it’s sour, it’s Citrus; 84 out of 100.


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Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs Volume One – 20 Question Manga Review

A 20 Question Manga Review for Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs, Volume 1

What’s the manga? Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs, Volume One.

“Hot Springs” huh? At what point do you just admit that this entire blog is just reviews of harems and cute girls shows? I know you’re being intentionally standoffish but when it comes to manga they cost a lot more than anime so I have to be pretty selective about the ones I buy and so a safe bet for me is my favourite genres, maybe when I get a job I’ll be able to expand my manga horizons but until then it’s all harem and cute girls!

Eh, fair enough I suppose. So what’s this one about? It’s about Kogarashi, a homeless high-school boy and casual ghost-hunter. After rescuing an old couple from a prankster ghost, they let him know of a deal that’s too good to be true, a room at a hot springs for rent only 1000 yen (~$10US) a month! The only catch, it may or may not be haunted.

What a deal!

Of course it is. And the ghost in question? The titular Yuuna (pun intended) is a ghost who’s stuck haunting the hot springs after her death, she’s a happy but clumsy and easily flustered girl who gets Kogarashi into all sorts of awkward predicaments. And speaking of awkward predicaments Kogarashi finds himself torn between his ghost-busting duties—and the reward of free food and rent for life for ‘exorcising’ her—and his growing friendship and attraction to the ghostly girl.

You’ve mentioned the protagonist is a ‘ghost hunter’ or ‘ghost buster’, how does he perform these duties? Well he punches ghosts.

“ONE PUUUUUUUNCH!” oh wait wrong series…

He… punches ghosts? Yes, it’s his chosen method of exorcism, he can punch even the most powerful of undead spirits and down them in one hit. Which is also another reason why he doesn’t immediately exorcise Yuuna on their first meeting, because he doesn’t want to hit a girl.

Some ghost hunter he is if 50% of his exorcism targets he doesn’t even deal with. Well I guess he’s a gentleman, but yeah, probably explains a part of the reason he’s been homeless if he refuses half his exorcism jobs.

So what’s the manga’s plot? The central plot is Yuuna’s “unfinished business” which is the reason her ghost is tethered to this world, she wants to be able to “move on” but can’t until they find out what exactly is the thing keeping her from moving on but that’s going to prove difficult as she doesn’t remember anything from being alive.

They’re sweet together…

I’m guessing you have some ideas though? Well, it’s either going to be that she’s never had a boyfriend or that she’s never had sex. I’m still not sure which though, I guess it depends how ~lewd~ this manga wants to get with the idea.

Uh-huh, speaking of “lewd”, this is a harem manga correct? I can’t help but realise you’ve only mentioned one girl so far though. It’s a harem, in that the other inhabitants of the hot springs inn are all attractive girls/women and there’s the usual kinds of harem shenanigans such as accidentally walking in on the girls in various states of undress, etc. But right now, none of the girls show any interest in Kogarashi. In fact some of them barely tolerate his presence.

Welcome to the harem!

And why is that? Because of a particularly embarassing situation early on they’ve all branded him a pervert.

Right… and is he? As far as harem protagonists go, not only is he considerably respectful of women and not much of a pervert at all but he’s actually ~interesting~ which is especially rare—at least for harem protagonists, he’s got back-story and personality and a sense of humour.

I guess it’s hard for something that’s incorporeal to hide convincingly.

And what about the other girls, you kinda glossed over them? Well it’s only because they get hardly any page-time (is that the book equivilent of screen-time?) in this first volume. You get a vague idea about their personality types not to mention their ‘special abilites’ but the majority of the time is spent with Yuuna and Kogarashi.

Wait, what’s these ‘special abilities’ you’re speaking of? You can’t just drop something like that and move on so quickly! Well there’s Chitose the inn’s caretaker who has the power to change people’s fortunes (it’s complicated). Super serious Sagiri, a ninja (tsun). Yaya, a cute and shy girl who’s the earthly vessel of a cat god (meaning cat ears and a tail, of course). And Nonoka, a boisterous alcoholic mangaka who’s also an oni (ogre) and whose oni powers get more powerful the more she drinks.


I see… any other characters I should know about? Well he attends high school, and due to Yuuna’s ghostly interferences ends up making a bad impression on the first day, except with Chisaki, a popular girl who’s having troubles with her soft toy collection being haunted. They form an unlikely friendship which will no doubt progress to some ~stronger~ feelings in future volumes.

So you’ve talked a lot about the manga’s plot and characters but I haven’t really gotten a sense of what you think of the manga? It’s very good, seldom do I find myself immediately attaching to a harem manga like I did here, it’s usually a couple of volumes before I’m really invested in the characters, but Yuuna—as clumsy as she is, has an endearing spirit (no pun intended) and while her amnesia kind of robs her of any tangiable back-story she never lets that get in the way with her interactions with other people. I think the fact we spend so much time with Yuuna and because Yuuna and Kogarashi share a room together means we get a lot more exposure to her (again, no pun intended) than you’d get in a similar manga that would maybe spread the pages of the first volume between a lot of supporting characters early on.

Sagiri is a badass ninja. Actually all the girls are pretty capable at fighting!

They share a room together? That’s very forward thinking… Well the reason Kogarashi’s room is so cheap is because it’s perpetually haunted by Yuuna and despite being a ghost she still needs a place to sleep. Them being so close in proximity allows them to get close to each other in more ways than one.

‘Shenanigans?’ You know it!


So final score and recommendation for Yunna and the Haunted Hot Springs, Volume 1? While this manga is unlikely to change people’s opinions on the harem and ecchi genre I honestly think series shows great promise, at least with regards to its characterisation. It’s fun and light-hearted at times but there’s the overarching mystery of Yuuna’s death and her ‘unfinished business’ as well as Kogarashi’s back-story and his ghost-punching abilitis add much needed variety to the formula. The art is crisply drawn and detailed and the character designs are distinctive enough. Things are getting steamy in this hot springs; 85 out of 100.

Oh and isn’t it going to be adapted into an anime soon too? Yes! July 2018 there’s going to be a Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs anime, I think it’ll make a great series and I’m looking forward to it!

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To LOVE-Ru Darkness Volume One – 20 Question Manga Review

A 20 Question Manga Review for To LOVE-Ru Darkness Volume One.

What’s the manga? To LOVE-Ru Darkness, Volume One.

Uh-huh, and what’s that mean? Stop asking me what titles mean, sometimes things don’t need to mean anything!

It says here on Reddit that the title is a pun? Please, get off Reddit. Also fine yes it’s a pun, it’s “To-Ra-Bu-Ru” which if you’re speaking Japanese kinda sounds like “Trouble” but also sounds like “To Love You”—remember the Japanese have trouble with their L-sounds. Also they like to add extra vowels to English words to fit their alphabet.

First world problems?

‘Kay. So “love”, huh? Is it a romance manga? I mean maybe… if you’re idea of romance is a 3+ person harem involving alien girls who look exactly like normal (anime) girls and who frequently disrobe in front of the protagonist for seemingly no discernible reason.

Oh, so it’s one of those kinds of manga, yeah? I’m not sure quite what you’re insinuating but it is a fan-service heavy harem manga, yes.

It’s happened to everyone, right?!

*sigh* why are we reviewing this? What’s there to say about this that hasn’t been said a hundred times before in similar reviews of this kind of content? Not exactly reinventing the wheel here! Did I mention this manga is actually a sequel of a series that ran 18 previous volumes and that not only have I read precisely ~zero~ of the previous manga series’ I’d also seen only TWO episodes of the anime adaptation when I read this.

That’s uh… that’s… why did you do that?! That seems just insane?! I can tell you the “why” of the matter later, the more interesting point to me is how I kept up with a plot I’d barely touched upon all these many books later.

Not the jealous type though.

I know you’re trying to bait me so fine…  GOLLY, HOW ON EARTH DID YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT WAS GOING ON? It’s literally the same as it was in those first two episodes just with added girls and a bit of backstory. There, I saved you from reading 18 volumes or 30+ episode of the anime adaptation of To LOVE-Ru.

Can you be sure though? Oh I’m sure there’s some To LOVE-Ru aficionado out there tearing his hair out at my sacrilegious statements but really I didn’t feel like I missed anything at all by skipping from the very first episodes of the original to the very first pages of this “sequel”.

Childhood friends ftw.

I suppose it could be argued that a good sequel allows a viewer (or in this case reader) to go in and still follow the story without the need for copious recaps. Yeah, maybe—if this was a 2 hour movie—but an 18 volume manga series? I can’t imagine reading all that and feeling fulfilled by the experience, especially when it seems like so little has changed since the beginning. With the exception of the forging of some relationships of course.

So we’ve just badmouthed the previous series for half the blog without so much as discussing the content itself! What’s it about? Rito is a very ordinary high-school boy who suddenly finds himself as the top candidate to be the King of planet Deviluke (and by extension King of the universe) and with his newly bequeathed position comes a beautiful fiance by the name of Lala, not to mention a bunch of other girls who are keen to win his affections.

She can reform me anytime…

Of course it does. So what actually happens in Volume 1 of this sequel series, can we have a fair and balanced review perhaps? Well this volume starts by vaguely recounting the events of the previous chapter, namely that Rito confessed his feelings to his long-time childhood crush Haruna, only to immediately backpedal because he’s an idiot and this series has to keep going.

What happened to ‘fair and balanced’? I never agreed to that. But fine. So basically there’s three main girls in Rito’s life, the aforementioned childhood crush Haruna, his alien fiance Lala and Lala’s little sister Momo. Rito—being a typical male and hormonal teenager can’t decide if he wants to be with Haurna or Lala. But here’s where things get ~interesting~, Momo’s fallen for Rito and fallen hard. So knowing full well she’s third pick at best at being his best girl she decides rather than directly compete with these girls for his sole attention to build a harem around him in the hopes she’ll get just a little bit of Rito’s affection.

Sounds like a plan?

That’s… that’s awful! I mean, yeah… if you’re approaching this with the idea that any of this is even supposed to be taken vaguely seriously. But it’s not, it’s a sitcom plot, albeit a sitcom with the nudity cranked up to HBO standards.

I shudder to ask you to elaborate but do elaborate, please. It’s impeccably drawn soft core pornography, so much so that it got the attention of the Japanese government for being too explicit. Though they ultimately decided, while revealing didn’t ~actually~ break any laws…

Priorities, amirite?

Right… so this is basically just a girl trying to tempt a guy into having more women in his life so she gets to be a small part of his love life? Well when you put it like that it sounds bad. But it’s really not.

You keep protesting but I’ve yet to see as much as a hint that this series is anything other than pandering to an absurd male fantasy. Rito may be a pretty dull protagonist but he’s still acutely aware of his actions, and he may not understand why he’s suddenly so desirable to so many attractive women but he at least knows not to take advantage of them or treat them wrong.

Smells like the ocean.

Why are you defending this guy? Why are you defending this series? I feel like all you do is bring up more and more issues with it only to brush them aside for facile reasons. If the genders were reversed and we were dealing with a kind of air-headed but well-meaning female protagonist surrounded by sexy shirtless men who dote on her unquestioningly we wouldn’t nearly be as critical of the series? Or maybe I’m just speaking now to the female portion of my readers who’ve sat rolling their eyes at my approval of this manga. I’m not going to pretend like this is some high-art or even top-notch quality entertainment, this is soft core pornography with vaguely interesting characters.

A truly ringing endorsement if ever I’ve seen one *rolls eyes* You mock but for some people this is all they need out of their manga.

An anaconda or an earth-worm?

Ugh. Okay, whatever. “Benefit of the doubt” and all that. So final score and recommendation? Reading To LOVE-Ru Darkness felt like being a high-schooler again and discovering Internet pornography for the first time. No, it’s nowhere near as explicit as all that, but what it is is teenage escapism, it’s (mostly) harmless nonsense. Yes it instills some sense of depth but really it’s just an excuse to look at attractive, willing girls in various states of undress. There’s plenty of harem-centric anime and manga that have a story to tell or characters to develop or allegory to… allegor? But this series seems content to tell a superficial story but tell it well. Throw in some likeable characters, humorous scenarios and sexy shenanigans and what you have is a rollicking good time for anyone willing to submit to its shallow charms.

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Nameless Asterism Volume One – 20 Question Manga Review

A 20 Question Manga Review for Nameless Asterism, Volume One

What’s the manga? Nameless Asterism, Volume One.

Huh? Sounds pretentious… I know, I had to look it up. ‘Asterism’ means a prominent group or pattern of stars not quite as big as a constellation.

Okay, and what’s it about? It’s a big ol’ lesbian love triangle, well kinda…

Uh-huh. What do you mean by “kinda” who are the characters, what’s going on? Well, there’s three middle-school girls; best-friends Tsukasa, Nadeshiko and Mikage. Tsukasa’s a sporty but somewhat shy girl, and she’s secretly in love with Nadeshiko. Nadeshiko’s a tall, stoic beauty and she’s secretly in love with Mikage! And Mikage’s a popular, friendly but kind of opinionated girl, and she’s not-so secretly into any guy who asks her out.

Introducing the band.

Oh, so only two of the girls are gay? Well, at the moment. And although the manga—in typical Japan style—doesn’t really acknowledge bisexuality, and argument could be that Tsukasa might be bisexual…

Wait, but isn’t Tsukasa the one who’s in love with a girl? Yes, but she gets asked out by a super handsome boy from another school, and while being very wary about the whole thing since she’s never really dated anyone, she still goes out with him. Though it’s more peer pressure to do so than anything else so I could be wrong, I just didn’t want to discount bisexuality as a possibility!

Dating is hard. Especially if you’re not into the gender of your date.

“Normal”? Yeah once again—in typical Japan style—anything that’s not heteronormative is instantly labelled as being “not normal”, there’s the usual ‘but I can’t love her, we’re both girls’ shtick that’s as tiresome as it is problematic. But these are genuine thoughts that girls and boys have while growing up in any country, not just Japan, so they’re not invalid it’s just a shame teenagers (and adults even) have to even have this conflicted internal dialogue about their sexuality.

*sad face*


So there’s a boy involved too now? Not really a love ‘triangle’ now is it? I guess not. Also protagonist Tsukasa has an identical twin brother named Subara who likes to cross dress in Tsukasa’s clothes and wear a wig and when he does so looks exactly like her.

That awkward moment when your twin brother wears it better.

Uh… okay. And he tries to break up Tsukasa and Kyousuke (the new handsome boy), which I don’t know if I’m just projecting here but seems to me like he might have a bit of a sister complex going on here…

Oh dear. As I said, I’m just ~reading between the lines~ again, I could be wrong! I hope not though.


So what actually happens in the first volume? Uh, not a lot actually! It’s predominantly a slice of life format manga, just with the romance put on top. The 3 girls do ‘best friend’ things like talk in class and goof around and go out places, you know the usual. All the while occasionally cutting to inner-monologues form either Tsukasa about how much she loves Nadeshiko and wishes she could say something to her and Nadeshiko thinking about how much she loves Mikage.

Sounds a bit dull. I wouldn’t say it’s dull, it’s a bit repetitive but they mix it up a bit because Nadeshiko has actually admitted to Tsukasa that she loves Mikage and so there’s the added drama/anguish of poor Nadeshiko having to listen to the girl she loves talking about how much she’s in love with someone else (and a girl at that)!

So complicated!

Well that at least carries a bit of dramatic weight. Plus Tsukasa’s mostly afraid of telling Nadeshiko how she feels because she values the friendship the three of them have and is worried any kind of love confession will destroy that.

All right, I can see how this is a bit more interesting than you previous led on. Hey! Are you criticising my ability to plot summarise!

A sweet moment. I hope they end up together…

More or less. What are the characters like? really like Tsukasa, I’m so glad they’ve written her and drawn her the way she is. Like she’s obviously a pretty girl, but they aren’t afraid to make her look borderline Tomoko from Watamote on occasion. And while it is a total cliche to make a lesbian character tomboy-ish and into sports, I don’t think it’s too obnoxious here. Nadeshiko has some interesting character traits, and she’s very tall, but otherwise not much to go on. Mikage’s ~enthusiasm~ wears a bit thin but I do like how blunt she can be when talking to Tsukasa about her love life—or lack thereof.

Introducing yourself to strangers on a karaoke group date is hard.

Wait! Did you say these were “middle-schoolers”?! Um… yeah, like 12 questions ago, bit slow on the up-take there aren’t you?

So a lesbian manga about “middle-school” girls? Are we going to have a repeat of our Yuru Yuri argument? Listen, there’s nothing the least bit sexualised about this manga, there’s not as much as a single kiss the entire volume. And there’s absolutely nothing fetishistic about young women trying to work out their complicated feelings at an emotionally and hormonally charged time in their lives.

But are middle-school girls really thinking about this kind of stuff? I don’t know! I’m not a Japanese middle-school girl questioning her sexuality, and neither are you! You can’t compare yourself at this age to how people are now, kids grow up a lot quicker and experience things a lot sooner than we were in school!

That’s how middle schoolers talk right?

And why exactly is it called ‘Nameless Asterism’? I mean you told me what an Asterism was but I still don’t get it. I guess one way to look at it is these girls are a small constellation of bright and shining stars in their own right, but amongst a sky full of likewise asterism’s they’re not particularly important, hence the nameless part.

Hmm, kinda poetic when you put it like that. Final score and recommendation? There’s nothing especially remarkable about this series, but that’s kind of why it’s so endearing. Sure there’s secrets being kept and emotions being wrought and complications to be had, but I don’t get the feeling this manga thinks it’s anything deep or profound regardless of its pretentious title. It’s just telling a story about teenagers that’s packed with angst and humour and pointlessness like a lot of early teenage years. I’m not fervently waiting for Volume 2 but I’m still curious where the story will go and will gladly spend time with these characters again. Not the brightest star in the sky, but pretty nonetheless; 77 out of 100.

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Though You May Burn To Ash Volume One – 20 Question Manga Review

A 20 Question Manga Review for Though You May Burn To Ash, Volume 1.

Warning: This review contains graphic violent/gory imagery, reader discretion is advised.

What’s the manga? 
Though You May Burn To Ash, Volume One.

And what’s it about? D’you ever buy a manga based solely on it’s cover without nary a glance at it’s plot synopsis?

I’ve never even read a manga, let alone bought one… Alright, fine, you ever watch a movie or read a book based on the cover image alone?

Err, I imagine so, I mean that’s what covers are there for to entice the reader/watcher? Why? Is that what happened here? Yes. Yes it is.

And was that a bad decision on your part? Yes. Yes it was.

Oh dear… well let’s go through this step-by-step, what exactly went wrong here? Well I saw a cute girl with a stupidly suggestive and revealing maid-costume cum angel get up and my fucking neanderthal brain added the manga to my cart and bought it before I could barely read a word of the synopsis.

It’s a nice behind.

And where’s the problem (aside from the obvious)? This manga isn’t sexy at all! It’s deeply ~problematic~ and it makes me want to throw it in the bin.

Yikes! Care to elaborate? Well not really, but since I’ve already gone this far I might as well commit. So this manga at least has an interesting premise, it’s about a doting brother trying to raise enough money to save his terminally ill sister from a certain death. See she needs a super expensive experimental overseas operation to save her life except he’s kind of a screw up and they have no other family than each other so it’s literally down to him to save her. One day, while returning from the hospital the brother is visited by a mysterious being who asks how far he would be willing to go to get a shit-ton of money to which his grief addled mind replies he’d not only kill someone, he’d sacrifice his own life and soul to get what he needs to save his sister.

Seems legit!

Next minute? Next minute he’s dead and in a sort of limbo-esque existence except now instead of being a plain 20-something year old dude he’s a cute high-school girl surrounded by a bunch of other cute high-school aged girls and they’ve all been brought together by a sadistic “angel” who’s offering them billions of Yen as a prize to winning her twisted game.

Uh-huh… And what’s the game? Basically it’s a dice-style ‘odd or even’ betting game with an element of bluffing and calling out other people’s bluffs in order to win more money. It’s a pretty interesting concept and it’s well-executed, but did I mention this manga is problematic as all heck and I kinda hate it?!

Yes, you did mention that… Why? If you’re not familiar with the term ‘ero guro’ or simply ‘guro’ allow me to ~educate~ you, it’s violent/gory content that’s coupled with erotic content.

Oh… I see “problematic” indeed. Listen, I’m not trying to kink-shame anyone here, this is—after all—just pictures, but I am so not having a good time with this. Like gore on it’s own I can generally deal with, I mean I read Murcielago and loved it and that had people being torn in half and entrails being ripped out and what not. So it’s not the gore itself I have a problem with, it’s that the gore is being coupled with ~erotic~ content that makes me feel especially uncomfortable.

Let’s not even mention what part of her is disintegrating between her legs…

So is there a lot of it then? No and that’s what makes me so unsure of whether this even is a ‘guro’ manga, I mean obviously the only thing I have to compare it to is erotic doujin’s I’ve unfortunately stumbled across in my times and it’s not anywhere near as sexual as those, but that stuff was explicitly porn. Where as this is more “mainstream”, this is a manga produced by a publishing company, they can’t go as far with the sexual content, but I do feel like the intent is still there.

“Intent”? To show high-school girls being brutally tortured and murdered while also leaning heavily into the sexualised nature of the characters for the purposes of arousing those are inclined to this sort of thing.

Don’t worry there’s only 4 more pages of her losing each of her fingers, just in case you didn’t catch it the first time.

Isn’t that just an assumption? Yeah of course, but I mean there is literally no reason given for all the characters suddenly being high-school aged girls in cute uniforms so I have to draw that conclusion.

Right. So imagine instead the characters aren’t all sexualised anime high-school girls, does that make it better? Maybe, I don’t know. There’s a lot of a compelling story-telling here, the sadistic angel character is pretty funny and crazy at times plus there’s some genuine depth and emotion to the protagonist and his relationship with his sister. It’s very dark but it’s very well written.

Must. Protect.

Can’t you just skip the violent and gory bits and enjoy the story and characters? I mean, possibly. I just don’t know if I want to support a product like this though, it is interesting enough to keep reading but I can only assume it gets more graphic and more sexualised from here on out, that’s generally how these type of things go. Unless…

Unless what? Well I mean maybe I’m completely wrong and this isn’t ‘guro’ at all! I’m not an expert after all! But even if this is only ~softcore~ guro it’s still pretty unappealing to me. And this isn’t even a ‘cute girl being killed’ issue or a ‘pointless death’ issue it’s that this is someone’s fetish and I don’t get it at all.

There’s actually a lot of interesting strategy to this game.

#notkinkshaming Yes, #notkinkshaming.

So final score and recommendation? *sigh* This is a tough one to give a score to, on the one hand there’s a perfectly competent story going on here, it’s well-written for the most part, is populated with interesting and flawed characters and the ‘odd or even’ style dice game is well implemented, thoroughly explained and pretty easy to follow. But, the fact that ALL the characters look like cute high-school girls even if they weren’t cute high-school girls (or even girls) in their previous life is an ‘interesting’ choice—or it would have been if the only reason they were all turned into cute high-school girls wasn’t just to make their gory deaths and violent tortures all the more appealing to people who like that! As it is, the highest score I can give it is a 62 out of 100, even if the story and characters are deserving of a much higher score.

Why? Because that’s what sells more books.

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