Or: A Discovery of Forbidden Scrolls
The discovery of a certain manga is usually not a story to be passed down through the generations. Indeed, the specifics of how I fell across Forbidden Scrollery are so forgettable I appear to have forgotten them myself. Regardless, the reading of the aforementioned series takes but a moment for it is so terribly short.
Radar: I can’t because I’m ignoring her all the time.
Radar: Because she’s ignoring me.
Hawkeye: Ah! But you ignored her first!
Radar: Yeah, that’s because I’m trying to beat her to the ignore.
-a conversation between Radar O’Reilly and Hawkeye Pierce, M*A*S*H Season 3, Episode 6
Note: This post discusses explicit sex in an explicitly sexual work, and includes images which are not safe for work.
It ought be fairly clear that most pornography is not an accurate reflection of reality. But perhaps more interestingly, different pornographic works inhabit realities which are vastly different from each other. When they divorce themselves from real-world sexual mores, erotic texts are often freed to reinvent sexual morality from scratch.
This is true to all fictional works up to a point, but the dissonance between how strongly sexuality is highlighted in pornography and how often guarded or shameful it is in reality makes the departure consistently, explicitly more noticeable. That said, so long as the author inhabits the real world and real sexual mores, their departure from those mores is clearly marked as a departure.
“Asumi’s always looking up at the sky, right? Anyone who’s with her ends up looking up too. You will too, I bet.”
–Twin Spica, Volume 9, Chapter 54
“Ah… Yeah, we’re living monuments to culture.”
-Mediator/Watashi, Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita Episode Three
In the fourth episode of Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita, the individual jabs at the manga industry are numerously applied with scalpel-like precision, neatly getting their cuts in before moving on to the next target. They come so furiously that one can hardly be blamed for missing the line above, which is more akin to being bludgeoned with a surprisingly sneaky baseball bat.
‘A voice, fleeting, to the sky, the top of the sky, that’ll someday vanish…’
Hidamari Sketch is primarily known for both its relaxed nature and Ume Aoki’s distinctive style. The series started out as a 4-koma, featured in the magazine Manga Time Kirara Carat, aimed at the seinen demographic, and could arguably be considered emblematic of the format’s light comedic air. Yet, as I have waxed lyrical on before, not all 4-koma need amount to soothing fluff.
At a glance, the series might appear to be an example of an ensemble cast, especially if one first approaches the series via the anachronistically-ordered anime. Yet, as one soon realises, the series is essentially a coming of age story centred about the character Yuno, and so we follow our curiously-shaped-hair-clip-wearing heroine on her journey through her final three years of school.
For the first three volumes we become accustomed to the cast and, aside from a story about a visiting stray cat, all seems happy and carefree. In the fourth volume, however, a slight shadow is cast. A hint of things yet to come.
One night, bored and trawling the web for reading material, I landed a seinen romantic comedy that promised the addition of laser-beam-firing alien antics. A recently completed four volume series, so far 13 scanlated chapters of Ashita Dorobou exist in English. While those chapters deliver on the promised romantic shenanigans and alien antics, it is the relationship between the protagonist and his ex-girlfriend that sparked my curiousity, for in the very first chapter I noticed the resemblance to that newly-coined romantic trope, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Continue reading
'Someday, I'd like to paint a picture that looks as if the sky has been cut out.'
The humble 4-koma: a style of manga featuring four panels aligned vertically; otherwise known as yonkoma or four panel manga. Most examples are found acting as a complement to series, an extra bonus awaiting those who acquire the bound volumes. Look no further than Hayate the Combat Butler, Genshiken, or The World God Only Knows for plentiful examples. They are also found in Japanese newspapers and magazines, akin to our own political cartoons. They are short, sweet, and relatively ubiquitous.
Yet, some manga use the format for the series itself. Again copious examples may be found, some of which have anime adaptations. Hidamari Sketch, K-On, Lucky Star, and the recently adapted Kill Me Baby, are just a few examples. All are generally light series, never straying too far from a slice of life and mostly including comedic elements. Indeed, the style itself is effectively defined by light, airy comedies.
Yet, there are always exceptions to a rule, and it is these exceptions that I find affecting.