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kiminakare3-natsumi

I realized that I’ve been giving the wrong name for the main guy. It’s Hayato, not Shuuto, and I somehow missed that despite it being written clearly in the very beginning of Chapter 1. Sorry about that.

I’ve since gone back and changed the previous chapter review. I hope this hasn’t impacted your enjoyment of this series or my reviews!

Also, a better translation of this title might be Thou Shalt Not xxx. It’s the same structure used in Yosano Akiko’s “Thou Shalt Not Die” power in Bungou Stray Dogs. Maybe I’ll call it that from now on, maybe not. What do you think?

Summary

In Chapter 1 we got to see the world from Hayato’s point of view, and Chapter 2 was a Nobuko’s-eye view. This time, it’s primarily from their other close friend that we’ve seen in previous chapters, Natsumi.

Chapter 3 mainly takes place in the past, when Hayato and Natsumi were classmates in elementary school. They’re putting on a play about a prince (Hayato) and multiple princesses, but Natsumi gets picked on by the other girls for being poor and not very “princess-like.” Hayato, being the naturally good guy, defends Natsumi, including being wiling to not participate in the play. Natsumi develops a crush on Hayato, and is inspired to start acting thanks to him, but learns the painful truth from day 1 that his heart belongs to Nobuko.

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Back in the present of the main narrative, it’s revealed that this chapter takes place between Chapters 1 and 2, after Hayato first confessed to Nobuko. Natsumi quietly asks if Hayato’s feelings could possibly be love, given how young he was at the time. However, Natsumi senses her younger self telling her something important: Natsumi was only a kid when she first noticed Hayato, and she knows those emotions are genuine.

A Slowly Expanding Cast

I wondered last month to what extent Kimi Nakare would begin to fill in its side characters, and the process has already begun. What I perhaps didn’t expect (though in hindsight maybe I should have) is that there would be a love triangle. I guess it’s maybe technically not a triangle depending on how you define it (Hayato only has eyes for Nobuko), though it’s also looking not to be as much about the exclusive world between Hayato and Nobuko as I first thought. I am a little apprehensive because I know how heavy and meandering love triangle manga can get, but I have faith in the creator Ohachimachi Hato’s ability to weave an interesting tale with endearing characters.

Who Will You Kiss? Me or That Girl?

Nevertheless, the chain of emotions is established, but one interesting wrinkle to this tried-and-true formula is that Natsumi is clearly the more attractive of the two girls. Whether she’s supposed to be relatively plain in the mold of the typical shoujo protagonist, or she’s supposed to be extremely beautiful isn’t entirely clear (were the girls who picked on her jealous or just snotty brats?), but she has all the features typically desired in a girl in manga. Natsumi is quiet, has a good heart, and just comes across as “better girlfriend” material. And yet, she’s the one on the backfoot, because Hayato is just enraptured with Nobuko.

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It’s not unusual for the third girl in the love triangle to be at a disadvantage because of personality or because there’s some kind of charisma that the main girl possesses, but it’s also usually not to this extent. There might be some similarities to Kimi ni Todoke, but Natsumi is no Kurumizawa Ume, and Nobuko is two steps beyond the eccentricities of Kuronouma Sawako. Just the fact that Nobuko’s only appearance in this chapter is in the form of a comical rendering just pushes home the idea that Natsumi is competing with a force perhaps unlike any other in romance manga.

Last Thoughts

This is definitely not the Chapter 3 I was expecting. While I worry about love triangles a bit, I’m also looking forward to where the manga goes from here.

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wonderland-shoujofight

In many big anime/manga stores in Japan, there are signed images from notable manga authors. Often times, you’re not allowed to photograph them, so they can’t really be shared with the rest of the world. One notable exception is Wonderland in Osaka’s Den Den Town (sort of the Kansai equivalent of Akihabara), where employees gave me free rein.

This gallery includes a number of highlights from Wonderland, so see if you can spot your favorites. However, it doesn’t show all of the ones at the store. If you have the chance, go there in person to see the rest!

By the way, the image above is by Nihonbashi Yoko, who I recently discovered through the manga Shoujo Fight. What a coincidence!

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5tips-genshiken

I’m trying to do lists my way! My latest post on Apartment 507 features five pieces of seemingly generic but I think useful advice for those who want to get more into anime/manga (or want to revive their lost interest) but feel lost doing so. Tell me what you think, and even throw in some tips yourself because this certainly isn’t a closed list.

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There’s a new Cardcaptor Sakura manga in town—Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card Saga—and I practically tripped over myself in excitement to get it. The series is one of my favorite anime and manga of all time, and its charming characters, light yet dramatic story, and cute aesthetic make it a classic of the magical girl genre. But it’s been a long time since we last saw Kinomoto Sakura and the rest of the cast proper (meaning no weird Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle alternates!), and CLAMP, the creators of Cardcaptor Sakura, have also changed a lot since the late 90s when the original manga debuted.

Thus, while reading I had two questions in mind: in what ways does this new iteration try to capture the old CCS charm, and to what extent does it reflect a more contemporary sensibility?

The Story of Cardcaptor Sakura

The original Cardcaptor Sakura follows Kinomoto Sakura, a 10-year-old girl who is tasked with collecting mystical cards known as Clow Cards. As she retrieves them, the cards give her magical abilities such as flight, and command over the elements. Eventually obtaining all of them, Sakura soon discovers that she must also transform them into her very own “Sakura Cards” and become their new master. After much hardship (and a developing romance between her and Chinese rival/friend Li Shaoran), she succeeds, leaving her to be quite possibly the most powerful magician on Earth.

The Clear Card Saga takes place during the same timeframe as the epilogue of the original manga, when Sakura is in middle school and reunites with Shaoran, who has transferred back from Hong Kong so they could attend school together. In this chapter, we see many familiar faces, including Sakura’s family, her best friend (in fact the best friend in all of anime and manga) Tomoyo, and her magical guardians, Kero and Yukito. The first chapter is mainly there to re-introduce the cast and to set up a reason for Sakura to take up her magic wand once more, and in that respect it is a welcome homecoming.

No Pasta

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One of the most immediately notable aspects of the new series is that it lacks any signs of current CLAMP’s “noodle people” style that has permeated their works over the past decade and change, wherein characters have unusually long and distended-looking proportions. All aspects of the series seem to be geared towards reviving the original Cardcaptor Sakura look, albeit refined with many more years of experience.

One Card Girl

In one scene, Sakura mentions that she hasn’t had to use magic in a long time, and I find it to be a striking moment for a couple of reasons. First, while it’s impossible forget that Sakura is indeed a magical girl series, I almost didn’t notice that there was little mention of magic prior to her staring fondly at her old wand. Cardcaptor Sakura is well grounded not just in its fantastic elements but also its human relationships (both platonic and otherwise), and the series draws much of its strength from them. Second, while she doesn’t state it herself, she can indeed be argued to be the strongest magician there is, but she still behaves like an innocent young girl with a heart full of love and energy. Would it be strange to compare her to Saitama from One Punch Man?

Tomoyo: Return of the Queen

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I don’t think I’m alone in saying that, as fond as I am of Sakura herself, Daidouji Tomoyo is the one I’ve been most looking forward to seeing again. For years, she was my favorite anime and manga character, and it actually wasn’t until I discovered Ogiue that this changed. Even so, Tomoyo is still my #2 because of her warm heart, support of Sakura, and series of minor eccentricities. Her grand return is nothing short of spectacular, and I look forward to seeing more of her and her ridiculous wealth (and bodyguards).

Her role in this first chapter is mainly to get Sakura to blush profusely as she takes candid video of Sakura reuniting with Shaoran. Tomoyo is the kind of person who wouldn’t mind just recording Sakura in her daily life, but I’m confident that she’s going to be the most excited of all that Sakura’s going to have to sling some magic again. I can just picture the inevitable stars in her eyes in the coming chapters.

Another interesting point concerning Tomoyo is that she’s no longer in the same class as Sakura. While most of the old Tomoeda Elementary crew has gone on to Tomoeda Middle School, many of them have been split up into different classes. It’s actually a common technique to try and mix things up in a number of series that take place in school.

This means that Tomoyo will possibly be interacting much more with other characters. While it’s not like Tomoyo only ever showed up when Sakura was around, or didn’t talk to other characters on her own, it’s still a significant shift in the dynamics of interaction in Cardcaptor Sakura.

A Premonition for the Future

I want to mention that I probably won’t be chapter reviewing this new Cardcaptor Sakura just because I’m already doing two different series now (Genshiken and Kimi Nakare), and I think three series starts to be a bit too much. However, I might make a post every month or two as a way to look in and see how everything’s going.

Thus far, it’s a great start, and even if this chapter mostly treads familiar territory it does so in a way that gives me faith that the series will turn out well.

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As a final side note, there’s a character poll at the beginning of this issue of Nakayoshi, to vote for who should appear on the cover, and Sakura is #2. While there’s no indication that placement equals popularity, I have to wonder, or perhaps hope. After all, #3 is Momoka, the morally bankrupt protagonist from Sabagebu!

If the young readers of Nakayoshi are fans of Momoka, I am both looking forward to and dreading the future. Sakura might be a safer bet overall, though I wonder if she is still as timeless as she seems.

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To celebrate its 25th anniversary, a new Super Robot Wars game is coming out in 2017. As is tradition, a number of new series are debuting, including Brave Express Might Gaine, Cross Ange, and what looks to be more Full Metal Panic! now based on either the new upcoming anime or its light novel source material. However, the biggest surprise of all has to be the debut of Space Battleship Yamato into the storied giant robot crossover video game series.

The main surprise, of course, is that Space Battleship Yamato 2199 isn’t a giant robot series. While other entries have in the past stretched the definition of giant robots, from Heroman to Juushin Liger, and others have source material in games other other media (notably the Hatsune Miku Fei-Yen), Yamato is the first to just flat out not be a robot series.

While this is the sort of exception that can get fans in a tizzy (“Is nothing sacred?!”), I think Yamato more or less gets a free pass as one of the most influential science fiction anime of all time. Its original staff was comprised of some of the luminaries of mecha anime (Yasuhiko Yoshikazu, Ishiguro Noboru, and more), and the idea of the “space opera” has had a long reach throughout Japanese pop culture history.

With this news, a new hashtag has appeared on Japanese Twitter:

It’s resulted in some iinteresting entries.

The other big surprise is that Super Robot Wars V will come with subtitles in Chinese, Korean, and English. However, due to licensing, the chance of a true English release is kind of slim.

What do you think should be in Super Robot Wars? How far can the definition of mecha be stretched?

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I’m back from Japan, and I had a blast! Look forward to a number of posts this coming month about my trip.

If you’re part of my Patreon (or even not!), feel free to message me or leave comments below. You can ask me anything about my Japan experience this time around. By the way, if you’re wondering what the biggest trend in Japan is right now, it’s Osomatsu-san.

Speaking of, here are this month’s Patreon sponsors:

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Alex

Diogo Prado

Sasahara Keiko fans:

Kristopher Hostead

Yoshitake Rika fans:

Elliot Page

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

There is something important I need to discuss, which is that some changes in my life (nothing tragic) are happening that might require me to reduce the amount of posting that I do to Ogiue Maniax. I know that sounds kind of strange after declaring that I would up my post rate not so long ago, but that’s just kind of how it is.

The result is that, while I’m definitely going to try, I might not be able to keep up my twice/thrice-weekly posting schedule. I know that part of the appeal of Ogiue Maniax is its consistency and its fairly high output rate, so if any of my patrons want to adjust their pledges accordingly, I totally understand.

I’m hopeful that I can keep up my current rate or something similar, though. I mean, I’ve done it before!

As for this past month’s post highlights:

As always, there’s the requisite Genshiken chapter review. This one got longer than I initially expected, but that’s just because it turns out that there’s a lot to talk about. One notable aspect of this chapter is how it meta-references the anime version. Strangely, there’s no new chapter of Kimi Nakare out yet.

A couple of posts this month were ones I’ve been ruminating on for a while. The first is a look at the fanservice from Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma, and the second is a post about how vital Twitch chat is to the Twitch streaming experience. There’s just a lot to unpack in both, and I hope I’ve done a decent job explaining my points.

There’s also this month’s Patreon-sponsored post, where I look at the BlazBlue anime. While I was passingly familiar with BlazBlue as an anime-style fighting game, one thing I didn’t realize was how many imouto characters are in it. This in some ways sets it apart from similar games, which often deal with only or two little sisters.

The last major post is the first of many inspired by my Japan trip. Check out my report and review of Kansai Comitia 48, a doujin event dedicated to original (as in not based on existing works) doujinshi,

Outside of the blog:

Over at Apartment 507 where I’m currently writing, I’ve started a new series of reviews for Japanese-language manga apps. The first is Shogakukan’s MangaOne. Remember, these are only available on the Japanese app stores. I’ve also started a Vine account because making dumb jokes using anime is what I do, and I recently appeared on a mini-episode of the Reverse Thieves’ Speakeasy Podcast to discuss the Hulu Apocalypse.

So anyway, fire away with the Japan questions! I was only there briefly, so I can’t divulge to you its darkest secrets, but I sure can try.

 

kansaicomitia48-doujinshi

Whenever the typical English-speaking anime or manga sees the word doujinshi, a particular image comes to mind. Typically, doujinshi are associated with fan-parodies of titles both popular and niche, the realm of what-ifs that run the gamut from the silly to the sexy. However, many doujinshi are original works, and Comitia is the largest group of “original-only” doujin events in Japan. I attended Kansai Comitia 48 Osaka recently on May 15, 2016, and it was a fun learning experience. Not only could I feel the creators’ passions, but I also have come to view the importance of doujin events in a different light.

Original Doujinshi

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While I am certainly a fan of doujinshi based on existing properties, in many ways original doujinshi are more impressive because they cannot rely on drawing in the fan bases of those works. When I think about it, my first exposure to the idea of doujinshi, the anime adaptation of Comic Party, mainly focused on original works. In that TV series, the main character learns an important lesson: making doujinshi is about what you want to do, not simply what sells. Across dozens of creators, that is exactly the spirit I saw at Kansai Comitia 48.

The event site was laid out roughly according to genre, and when you look at the categories listed it becomes easy to see the variety of interests on display. There was the “Fantasy” section, which was by far the largest, but there were also things like Criticism, Travel, Shounen, Shoujo, Seinen, SF/Mecha, Animals, BL, and so on. The first doujinshi I picked up was a record of the author’s trip to Russia, while my favorite had to be a cute romance about a girl with a bentou box for a head. The handkerchief normally used to wrap a bentou box became the ribbon that accentuated her girlish charm. One table was selling guides to girls’ school uniforms throughout Japan, and the circle that was responsible for it consisted of a mix of both men and women.

What About the 18+ Stuff?

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While doujinshi often brings to my pornographic works, the Adult section at Kansai Comitia 48 was rather small. This is not that unusual, because most doujinshi made are in fact not sexual. However, even there the space for doujinshi as a place to explore one’s passions is visible, and one might even argue that it’s where such sentiments are most evident. Many of the 18+ circles were focused on otoko no ko, or boys who look like girls, and one was even solely about handsome bad guys kissing young girls. There was one artist who drew heterosexual josei-style smut, which can be rather uncommon given the sheer amount of BL that exists.

I picked up one adult title at the event, but not necessarily for the reason you might expect. The artist who drew it was actually Kakimoto Kenjirou, a published manga artist in the 1990s whose series, Futarigurashi, ran in Young Jump. It appeared that he was out of the manga game for quite a while, but here he was at Kansai Comitia drawing what he wanted, and the doujinshi I bought was actually a sequel to Futarigurashi. Here was a space where even someone with manga industry experience could continue the stories they wanted to tell, and essentially make “amateur” sequels to their own “professional” works.

A Haven of Lost Drawing Styles

One aspect of Kakimoto’s doujinshi is that, while it didn’t look quite the same as it did in the 90s, he still retained a very 90s style of manga drawing. What’s more, he wasn’t alone. Throughout Kansai Comitia 48, I saw doujinshi with characters that looked like they came from bygone eras of manga and Japanese pop culture. One artist created a giant robot themed after Nagano Prefecture, Naganoizer, and was clearly inspired by 80s anime artists such as Mikimoto Haruhiko (Macross, Gunbuster, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress). Another artist’s style was closer to 70s shoujo legends such as Hagio Moto and Takemiya Keiko.

In the actual professional manga industry, failing to change one’s styles with the times comes at a risk. While popular creators such as Miuchi Suzue (Glass Mask) or the aforementioned Hagio and Takemiya still draw in the same style as they did in the 1970s, many have clearly made shifts over time that correspond with trends in manga as a whole. For better or worse, events like Comitia are where those older styles can still exist, away from the pressures of having to pick up on what’s popular. While some are able to sell doujinshi at a profit, that is the exception. Most doujin artists make doujinshi purely as passion projects.

Comparing with Artist Alleys in America

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I’ve been to quite a few Artist Alleys in American anime conventions, and while you can get a good variety of styles, for the most part I tend to see many similarities in how artists approach works there. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that anime fandom has a rather high turnover rate where many grow out of it as they get older. This is not to say that American anime con artists lack variety, or that they all draw in an “anime” style, but the result is you don’t really get those 80s/90s-style holdouts.

A better comparison would be with the artist alleys at places like New York Comic Con, because you’ll often see artists who are inspired by past generations maintain those styles. For example, you’ll often see artists who love Jack Kirby and aim to maintain his style. They will pepper their drawings with Kirby dots, dynamic poses, and other signature characteristics of the King’s drawings. Similarly, at Kansai Comitia 48, you had artists who still believed in those older styles. Whether it’s because they refuse to adapt or can’t, the result is a window into a different world that is not so much experimental as Indie comics in the US tend to be, but are basically different shades of mainstream from older generations.

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This chapter of Genshiken calls back to one of the earliest moments in Nidaime. Is the story getting back on track, or was it never derailed in the first place?

Synopsis

Under the pretense of celebrating both Risa’s acceptance to Shiiou University and surviving an eventful year, Yoshitake gets together with Yajima and Hato for a night of drinking and laughter. In actuality, now that Madarame’s harem has been resolved, Yoshitake aims to bring Yajima and Hato closer together.

However, Yoshitake’s plan to position Yajima as a hero of sorts backfires. While Yoshitake recalls the time Yajima prevented her from lifting up Hato’s skirt, Yajima (under the influence of alcohol) confesses that she was on the verge of doing the same, and that she saw Hato’s goods.

Wanting to prevent any more awkwardness, Yajima tells the others to go home, especially because Hato’s short skirt is a recipe for disaster. Hato offers a suggestion, but it turns out to be arguably worse: Earlier in the day, Risa had given Hato a pair of short pants to wear in order to feed her fantasies, which causes elder sister Rika to worry about Risa’s future.

Meta-Genshiken

There are a number of things I’d like to elaborate on in regards to this chapter, but the first is a nod and wink by author Kio Shimoku to the animated Genshiken Nidaime, aka Genshiken Second Season aka Genshiken Second Generation.

In Chapter 124, Yoshitake, Yajima, and Hato bring up how minors aren’t allowed to drink in anime adaptations even when it happens in the original manga. Yoshitake then remarks that they will keep drinking because nothing’s stopping them from doing so. This is actually a reference to episode 2 of the anime, where scenes of Yajima and Hato drinking from Chapter 58 were cut.

This isn’t the first time that the Genshiken manga has referenced the anime. The idea that Angela wants to sleep with Madarame comes from the second series, Genshiken 2. Moreover, in a particular 4-panel extra, the manga alludes to the fact that the final episode of the Nidaime anime has a bath scene that didn’t exist in the comic.

Tracks Laid Out

Chapter 124 calls back to one of the original tensions of the new Genshiken, which is the awkwardness between Hato, the club’s very first fudanshi and very first otoko no ko, and Yajima, who for a long time disliked Hato because his very presence made her feel inadequate. Things have changed significantly since then, namely because of Yajima’s gradual acceptance of Hato and the realization of her own feelings for him, but there’s this sense that perhaps this is where the narrative of Nidaime was supposed to go all along. In this sense, it reminds me of the manga Coppelion, where it ended up taking years to reach Shibuya despite the fact that it was mentioned as an early goal.

The Madarame Harem story took up a huge portion of Genshiken Nidaime, and this means it can be seen as both a major narrative of the manga thus far, and as an excessively long detour. In a way, however, both are true. The story of Nidaime is in many ways the story of Hato, and I have to wonder if Hato and Yajima could have developed to the extent it has without all of those tribulations, and without Hato’s affections for Madarame prompting realization in Yajima herself?

The answer is likely neither a full yes or no, mainly because Kio tends to write stories without planning how they’ll turn out. He’s more of a “let the characters move the story forward” kind of author. If you’re more of a beliver that the “author is dead” this doesn’t matter too much, but it can’t be ignored that where the story seems to be heading now is built partly upon the foundation of the Madarame Harem arc, and I think it’ll continue to exert an influence even as the manga goes back to being a little more like how it started.

Death to Misunderstandings

Yajima’s confessions, and the way they finally bring to an end some of the unspoken tensions between the characters, kind of reminds me of the beginning of Kimi ni Todoke. In that series, many potential misunderstandings between characters common to shoujo romance series are squashed before they can fester and it made that particular work refreshing. While Genshiken is nowhere close to this, given that this particular resolution took a few years, it has a similar feeling of release.

Actually, when it comes to Genshiken, I find the resolution of romance tends to be very cathartic. Sasahara and Ogiue consummate their relationship after an intense sharing of secrets. Saki’s rejection of Madarame features a wave of emotion hitting the both of them. Hato’s comment that Madarame will be the first and last man he ever loves comes with a tinge of melancholy that still somehow feels like a huge weight has been lifted.

Yajima’s Secret to Success

While Yajima is discussing why a relationship with Hato isn’t popular at the moment (his feelings lie elsewhere), she mentions that she knows the way to instantly get Hato’s attention. The hint is that she saw it in an instant upon arriving at Hato’s place, which leads me to believe that it has to do with not just comics, but 4-panel gag manga.

If you look at the rough comics pages Hato has left around, they’re all arranged in two sets of 4-panel vertical columns, similar to works like Azumanga Daioh and Hidamari Sketch. Yajima, who turns out to possess a hidden talent for comedic manga, and who basically won the “duel” last time they both drew their own works, could leverage that to her advantage. The reason why she refuses to act on it is likely because of the swirl of emotions and relationships that have entangled the Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture. Yajima prefers to make things simpler, not more complicated.

Hato and Risa and Clothing

Hato at one point remarks that having his penis seen while dressed as a girl is somehow more embarrassing than being seen stark naked as a boy (which also happened). While a “cute Hato” moment if ever there was one, this particular reveal speaks to a side of Hato’s psychology that has been somewhat unexplored even if it makes total sense.

Hato-as-girl is still very much a performance even if that performance is ingrained in his being. He has taken great efforts to look like a girl without drawing too much attention, has practiced raising the pitch of his voice to sound more feminine, and is just overall very convincing as a woman. This means that perhaps the penis has different meanings when he’s presenting as a man vs. a woman. As a guy, he was embarrassed because he was showing his privates, but as a girl it’s like his secret was revealed.

This is where Risa’s minor obsession with Hato becomes interesting. While most of the fascination with Hato has come from his appearance as a woman, Risa is different because her interest in Hato comes from him being a man, or rather a man with a boyish appearance. Madarame and Kuchiki see Hato’s female appearance in relation to the crossdressing eroge and doujinshi they’ve experienced, and Risa perhaps draws a similar connection between her own interests and super smooth Hato in short shorts. Like Yoshitake, I too am concerned with the potentially dangerous path Risa might be heading down, but I also am intrigued by a new love triangle of Yajima, Hato, and Risa. The question remaining is, can Risa’s view of Hato be considered romantic in the first place?

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NOTE: I want to be upfront about what follows in this post. I was recently contacted by a promotional company, asking if I could mention a couple of their websites on this blog for pay. I agreed to do so, knowing that this is part of the SEO game.

While I normally wouldn’t accept an offer to just promote something, what caught my attention was that I was requested to make posts specifically because of their purposeful usage of manga and anime characters in marketing. I’m always fascinated by this topic, especially when it comes to Japan where cute fictional cartoon spokespeople are much more ubiquitous across all age groups. Because the types of mascots used can say a lot about a company and who they’re targeting, I decided it would be worth writing about.

I also want to emphasize that I have not used the service below, Hikkoshi More, so I can neither endorse it or advise people away from it.

I hope this makes everything clear.

In the English-speaking world we have sites like Orbitz and Hotels.com that aggregate various offers and prices and present them in one place, allowing users to choose from hundreds of offers. Hikkoshi More serves a similar function in Japan, except it’s for moving rather than traveling. Hikkoshi More is meant to help users to find the right moving company that suits their needs and finances.

I came to understand the purpose of Hikkoshi More because of the comic on their website, which explains what they’re all about. Sadly, it does not involve shipping the shipping companies, and is instead a parody of the Legend of Momotarou using the site’s mascots, Momoa (the girl) and Kuronishiki (the black cat).

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In this story, “Kuronekotarou” is born from a peach and takes it upon himself to defeat the oni of Onigashima Island, but is beaten to the punch by the real Momotarou. The oni are forced off their island, and need to find a new home. Kuronekotarou introduces them (and eventually other character parodies from the Legend of Momotarou) to Hikkoshi More, and they all find homes.

The comic is actually pretty effective for giving an overview of what they’re about, and in my opinion was easier to get through than their actual website.

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My personal favorite part of this manga is how Momotarou is kind of an asshole. In this panel, it mentions that he not only beat them up, he also took their money and credit cards. The fact that he carries a giant Nippon Ichi flag on his back (not shown above) adds to his ridiculousness. Also, because Momotarou is instantly recognizable to any Japanese person, it becomes an easy target for parody, similar to something like Snow White or Johnny Appleseed for an American.

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When looking at Momoa and Kuronishiki, it’s clear they’re mascots meant for regular adults. They have neither the high moe factor that would draw in more hardcore otaku, nor are they as generically cute as something like Hello Kitty. They’re drawn very simply, and Momoa’s design positions her as anywhere between 18 and 40, giving a sense of youth and vibrancy to the company without making her too young and thus unsuited for representing a site dedicated to a very adult concern of moving. Not that kids don’t care (they arguably care more than anyone), but they’re not responsible for the details of it.

I think people are more used to seeing the Dejikos and Hello Kitties of Japan than what Momoa and Kuronishiki are, which is simply cute and attuned to a more specific, yet not hardcore, demographic. The result is that Momoa and Kuronishiki are charming yet safe, and are perhaps a little more immune to the Erin Esurance syndrome. In that particular case, it was clear that Esurance wanted to use its mascot’s sex appeal to its advantage, only for the whole thing to explode in their face. Momoa might be closer to Flo from Progressive Insurance, if anything, except through that Japanese lens of kawaii.

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The best thing about digital manga is that it’s such a space saver, and it allows you to get manga straight from Japan at a reasonable cost with little hassle. I’ve started up an article series on Apartment 507 where I review various Japanese-language manga apps, and my first is a look at Shogakukan’s MangaOne.

I personally like the app, but that might be because it actually features a sports manga about Kabaddi!

Interested in Supporting Ogiue Maniax?

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