Hot Gimmick Books 1-12

Hot Gimmick is the manga that made me a devoted proponent of the format. At the time, it was exactly what I was looking for — a girl-centered story that emphasizes emotion and character development, with fascinating plot twists and clear, expressive art. Unfortunately, the end of the series is so disappointing as to erase the enjoyment of the beginning, and now I recommend people avoid it.

The protagonist, Hatsumi, is a 16-year-old living in a company apartment building. Her father is on a remote assignment for work, and her older brother is a college student who’s gone a lot, leaving her with no easily available male role model. (There’s a page at the back of the first book that sums up the family members that is very helpful for the reader’s reference. Future books have information on other groups of characters.)

The family’s living situation keeps them under the thumb of Mrs. Tachibana, the wife of a high-ranking company official. When she appears, she’s followed by a flock of other company wives who serve as visible symbols of her power, a chorus of yes-women who giggle on cue to enforce her pronouncements. This situation is a twisted take on 1950s American morals, with the family’s standing revolving around the father’s job, the housewives worried about status, and hypocrisy not mattering so long as the proper image is maintained.

Hot Gimmick Book 2 cover
Hot Gimmick Book 2
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Hot Gimmick Book 1 cover
Hot Gimmick Book 1
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Tachibana’s son Ryoki has taken his family’s power to heart all his life. When they were younger, he even injured Hatsumi by pushing her down a flight of stairs just because she was in his way. He’s the villain of the piece, and he’s even scarier because he’s not sadistic — he just thinks of no one but himself and getting what he wants. That’s the way he’s seen things work all his life, where it doesn’t matter who he insults or degrades. As the series progresses, it becomes clear that he’s only ever been valued for his intelligence. He reminds himself of his rank by calling Hatsumi “moron”, reassuring himself that he’s still superior to her in that way. His motives become a little more understandable, if still not acceptable, and his emotional naiveté is realistic for his age and background. It’s refreshing that he’s not a two-dimensional villain but a more complex character.

Meanwhile, Hatsumi’s 14-year-old sister Akane is something of a wild child, with several lovers. Her period is late, so she guilts her big sister into buying her a pregnancy test. At the same time, she’s rubbing it in that Hatsumi’s never had a boyfriend. Ryoki finds out about the situation and uses it to blackmail Hatsumi into acting as his slave. She agrees in order to protect her family’s reputation. Although he claims to despise everyone for allowing his mother to rule their lives, he’s carrying on in the same fashion. Instead of pointing this out to him, her opinion of him is yet another thing Hatsumi holds inside.

Hatsumi is almost the perfect young girl, pliable and agreeable, unable to say no to other people’s requests, even when she should. She has few opinions of her own, being shaped by outside forces instead. When she completes a task difficult for her, she has such joy in her accomplishment that the reader wonders just how much in her everyday life she’s ever been allowed to take pride in. She’s never been encouraged in long-term thinking, even to the point of losing sight of the horrendous reasons behind her mission. She gets so wrapped up in the temporary exhilaration of successfully buying the test that she forgets how terrible it might be if her younger sister was actually pregnant. She frequently practices what she’ll say in a difficult situation, only to find her resolve deserting her when the time comes, a realistic portrayal of the distractions of teenage emotion.

Hot Gimmick Book 4 cover
Hot Gimmick Book 4
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Hot Gimmick Book 3 cover
Hot Gimmick Book 3
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Being unable to express one’s true feelings for fear of losing one’s social status is something a lot of teenagers can relate to. Hatsumi often thinks of the right thing to say after the situation has passed, and she feels powerless to change the factors aligned against her. She’s torn between standing up for what she wants and being controlled by what everyone else expects of her. Even when she screws up her courage and vows to tell someone something important, she can’t follow through because she gets distracted by her surroundings or her misguided sense of what other people can handle. She can’t stop herself from being nice, even at her own expense, or from apologizing, even when she’s the one wronged. She’s also rather naive, since she doesn’t recognize when she’s being asked out.

The sexual possibilities are surprisingly prominent, especially when taken in contrast to Hatsumi’s character. Ryoki uses the “slave” situation to fondle, kiss, and strip her. He even blames her for his behavior, saying “there’s something about her that makes me want to pick on her,” which shows how he’s incapable of interacting honestly with himself as well as anyone else. It’s a more adult version of teasing the person you have a crush on because you can’t express your emotions any other way.

It’s bizarre to see date rape used as the premise of a teenage comic, but why not? There’s a tradition in the comic medium of expressing emotions adolescents can relate to in exaggerated fashion. (For example, consider the symbolism of strange mutant powers appearing at puberty in the X-Men comics.) Also, the explicit deal Ryoki makes is different only in degree from the pressure many girls face, when they’re encouraged to put out for fear of being labeled a prude and feel trapped by peer pressure and social conventions. Sex is a real part of many teenage lives, a situation reflected here.

Azusa, a former childhood playmate and protector of Hatsumi’s, returns to the building just in time to protect her once again. Now the book begins to resemble a fairy tale, with this handsome teen model swooping in to rescue the princess-in-hiding. Of course, fairy tales aren’t possible in real life. As the series progresses, different motivations are revealed that cause the reader to question everything that’s gone before. Who’s really a bad guy, and who really cares for whom? Are characters being honest about their motives, or do they have more disturbing secret intentions? Azusa claims a disturbing connection with Hatsumi’s family; is he telling the truth?

Hot Gimmick Book 6 cover
Hot Gimmick Book 6
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Hot Gimmick Book 5 cover
Hot Gimmick Book 5
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The delicate linework hides an underlying strength, in the same way the characters’ facades do. Emotions take center stage with facial expressions and body language clearly delineated, often through closeups. The art doesn’t draw attention to itself; instead, it keeps the reader moving through the story. The question of “what happens next?” is gripping, and the answer is rarely expected.

Hatsumi has a beauty she doesn’t realize due to the goodness in her heart, which is why every boy in the book falls in love with her. Her innocence, though, prevents her from suspecting anything but the best in people, a trait that gets her into dangerous situations when things turn out to be other than what they seem. By book four, she is moving slowly towards standing up for herself. Even after Azusa does something unforgivable, she barely summons the courage to slap him, and promptly apologizes afterwards. His taunting of her late at night gives the gossips more ammunition, since they immediately jump to the conclusion that she was coming on to him. Even with the trouble he’s caused, both intentionally and not, she’s of such good character that she can’t hate him. She can’t hate anyone.

Due to the spreading rumors, Mrs. Tachibana decides that the entire family should be ostracized for not teaching the children better behavior. The family assumes that this is because Hatsumi turned down Ryoki, so she’s pushed into reconciling with her “master”. It seems that the only emotions Ryoki allows himself are anger and jealousy, but he’s struggling to learn more, even though he doesn’t realize it yet. Meanwhile, little sister Akane and neighborhood geek Subaru are finding they might have more in common than they thought.

With her feelings for Ryoki continually changing, things are complicated in book five when her older brother Shinogu becomes jealous due to unfathomable motives. It seems everyone knows more about her family than she does, and the acts of the parents continue complicating the lives of the younger generation.

Hot Gimmick Book 8 cover
Hot Gimmick Book 8
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Hot Gimmick Book 7 cover
Hot Gimmick Book 7
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Book six starts with a flashback to how Azusa grew up, showing that his actions have deep-seated emotional roots. This series rarely settles for two-dimensional characterization, and shocking acts have complicated histories that make them understandable, if not agreeable. Living in the past isn’t very satisfactory, but trying to completely ignore it doesn’t work either. Hatsumi finds herself burdened with guilt over long-ago secrets that aren’t hers, while Ryoki struggles to think about anyone but himself.

New Year’s Eve brings complications in book seven. Little sister Akane has a new boyfriend, although she’s also flirting with Shinogu’s housemate. Hatsumi comes to a new realization about her feelings, while Ryoki is as self-centered as ever, scheming to get Hatsumi to sleep with him. For her, their relationship is hampered by emotional distance and lack of communication; for him, it’s all about the sex. When he tells his mother they’re dating, it’s soon all over the complex. Most of the drama results from characters acting on mistaken impressions of half-overheard conversations or partially glimpsed action. In that way, it captures realistic human emotion and gender differences. If only the characters would talk to each other honestly! But that would require putting aside their pride and risking rejection.

Hatsumi tries to act as peacemaker, but her generosity of spirit often is misinterpreted, causing jealousy among the many boys with crushes on her. Much of the confusion stems from the flexible line separating boy/girl friendships from dating. When Hatsumi spends time alone with a guy, she may intend one thing, but others may read more into it.

The aftermath of Ryoki slapping Hatsumi in public is on view in book eight. He takes out his fear that he’s the only one who cares on her violently and then blames her for his outburst. Hopefully, he’ll learn more mature behavior before he becomes a full-fledged abuser, and she’ll learn that it’s not right for her to apologize for his mistakes. She doesn’t respect herself enough to stand up in the face of his dictatorial demands, even when he tries to control her thoughts as well as her behavior.

Hot Gimmick Book 10 cover
Hot Gimmick Book 10
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Hot Gimmick Book 9 cover
Hot Gimmick Book 9
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His mother complicates things by introducing Ruri, an intelligent, high-ranking girl who she thinks is a much better match for her brilliant son, at the same time that Shinogu’s secrets become more of a problem. The book concludes with the story of Hatsumi’s family moving into the complex and her first meetings with Ryoki and Azusa. Seeing adorable little kids act in the same disturbingly mean ways they do as teens is a realistic portrayal of what they’re learning from their parents.

Book nine begins with a chapter focusing on Akane and Subaru and Valentine’s Day. She’s used to guys moving much faster than he does, so she’s hoping the holiday gives her some clarity on where they stand with each other. Like any couple, they have to find their own unique way that works for them… and they’re so cute while getting there, with their uncertainties, since the reader knows they’re great together.

Back with Ryoki and Hatsumi, another family secret takes a new twist, opening up a new avenue for Hatsumi, Shinogu, and Azusa to investigate. Ryoki, however, tells himself that the past has nothing to do with him now, an attitude that’s been obviously disproven by much of the rest of the series (and also not in keeping with the typical Japanese belief). Meanwhile, Shinogu announces his intention to leave the family after another adorable flashback to he and Hatsumi as little children, and Hatsumi inadvertently learns more about his feelings for her. By book ten, pretenses begin collapsing as secrets are revealed.

Hot Gimmick Book 12 cover
Hot Gimmick Book 12
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Hot Gimmick Book 11 cover
Hot Gimmick Book 11
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Book eleven begins with a stunned Hatsumi just looking for a safe place to be. She needs comfort; all the changes have been too much for her. The reader may sympathize. Hatsumi’s status as a recipient of knowledge instead of a protagonist makes her more of a stand-in for the reader, seeing what’s going on but powerless to affect it in any way. Her uncertainty makes her an even more typical teen, with too many options in front of her. She doesn’t yet possess the tools or self-knowledge to sort through them and determine what she wants.

Many have justifiably objected to her love for a controlling near-rapist, but it’s plausible that a girl would find someone who tells her what to do and how to act comforting. She’s afraid (even more so than most) of being on her own and responsible for her own decisions, and a dictatorial lover nicely fits into the role her parents used to fill for her. The reader can view this book as a modern-day Cinderella story where the challenge is more threatening than cleaning a fireplace, or as a dramatization of the dangers of date rape when dealing with an immature teenage golden boy drunk on his own power, or a soap opera with a twisted triangle of attraction.

Book twelve (spoilers in the link) finally answers the question of “which boy does Hatsumi pick?” but I found her lack of character development over the series as a whole very disappointing. The hints of growth are ignored so that everyone winds up roughly where they were when we started. Aihara previously created the five-volume Tokyo Boys & Girls manga, which is also not recommended.

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82 Comments

  1. Well, I took the plunge and bought the first volume on your recommendation. Now I’m hooked. As you say it’s based almost on date rape – sexual harrassment at the very least – and yet, you can feel sympathy for Ryoki. Maybe it’s because I read your review first and so had some background, but I really thought the art expressed the fact that something was going on in their heads even when the characters were silent. The scene with the first kiss in the station and the aftermath was really wonderful. Now the only problem is I have to order the rest of the series and where am I going to find room for it? :)

  2. [...] Miki Aihara created my favorite manga, Hot Gimmick, so I was a guaranteed customer for her next project, Tokyo Boys & Girls. This series [...]

  3. [...] Boys Over Flowers has some plot elements in common with Hot Gimmick, but since it was originally published in 1992, it’s more traditional in its treatment. There’s less psychology, more comedic incidents, and a lighter touch. Also, the fashions and hair styles are now outdated, so that the cool kids are easier to laugh at for thinking they’re hip. [...]

  4. this book can get you really hooked…this is he second book that i got really hooked to…the other book was mars…that one is really good and this one is good to..im not really into it but after mars im really into it now…hot gimmick just gets more interesting as each chapter reveals itself…

  5. [...] It seems to me that the author doesn’t know quite what to do with these characters, so she’s trying different things, thrashing around in search of a direction, but not much clicks. If this was a TV soap opera, it’d be one where the actors are more concerned with getting on to their next project than with their current performance, as though they were walking through the scenes and reciting whatever lines they’re given without much enthusiasm. I don’t believe in the characters; there’s no sense of involvement, no three-dimensionality. The series ends next volume, so I’ll stay with it, but it’s not nearly as good as I hoped, given that the author wrote one of my favorite mangas, Hot Gimmick. [...]

  6. [...] beloved Hot Gimmick concludes with volume 12 (Viz, $9.99, JUN06 3503), which creates bittersweet [...]

  7. a manga EVERYONE should read! no doubt about it its too awesome for words!

  8. [...] The first book contains a bonus story, “The Cage of Summer”. While staying with her family, Toko’s cousin shows an angelic face to everyone but her. Her discovery of his bad boy ways opens the door for him to torment her in a way that reminded me of Hot Gimmick, but his teasing hides deeper feelings for her. [...]

  9. [...] While Comics Worth Reading recommends Hot Gimmick: The aftermath of Ryoki slapping Hatsumi in public is on view in book eight. He takes out his fear that he’s the only one who cares on her violently and then blames her for his outburst. [...]

  10. At first I thought that Ryoki was a major jerk, and that when Azusa was going to get with Hatsumi I was so happy for her, and then I thought that Azusa was going to get with her only to get back at Ryoki cuz I knew that Azusa hated him, but then the story starts to unfold and it gets better and better. So read it yourself, but be warned…… the manga series is VERY, VERY, VERY……….ADDICTING!!!!! Buy it!! Miki Aihara I give you much love for making the series, I absolutely LOVE it!!! Can’t wait for the very last book… is Hatsumi going to end up with childhood buddy, Azusa? Or her hunky, adopted brother, Shinogu? OR her ex-boyfriend that is super smart, and abusive, but 2nd lover, Ryoki?? Find out in Miki Aihara’s last volume of Hot Gimmick!!!!

  11. i love one and two and wont number 3 but cant’nt find it

  12. i think hot gimmick is the best manga book i have ever read and i am so excited to started reading the 11 book. you are the best !!! you should buy it!

  13. paris bethea

    HotGimmick is the cuting edga manga that i have ever read

  14. erm so did hatsumi end up with ryoki in d end..?

  15. No spoilers here, please. Plus, the last volume isn’t out yet.

  16. Hot Gimmick is a really good manga series to read. I wonder if there will be more series from the same author?

  17. errr. i’ve been reading this cause i have nothing better to do. but its a nice story though i guess i can relate to it in alot of ways. im very much like Shinogu, adopted with a sister just under a year younger then me. i knew i was adopted but she didn’t. i had those same feelings he did for her but in the end i couldn’t let myself be with her. even after she found out. ive only read up to book 9 but i really hate that smart punk woman abusing arse though… i dont want him to even touch her… grrr i guess ill have to buy the rest to find out… unless somone would be nice enough to email me a leversole01@aol.com and tell me if her and Ryoki get together in the end. =D

  18. I’ve read all the Hot Gimmick books until the 12th one. The 12th one is the last one, right? well anywayz. I thought the confusing personality of Hatsumi was annoying and that she should just get with a guy and be over with, then again, there wouldn’t be a series! lol. but i found it good over all. i can’t wait to read the last book. My favorite character in the series would have to be Shinogu, the hard working guy to pay his parents off and hiding a deep dark secret (plus he’s cute lol)

  19. Well Hot gimmick is REALLY AWESOME! But Hatsumi is really confusing somtimes. Well I’ve only read up to 10. If any body knows who she ends up with please e-mail me at lacrazyclown2@yahoo.com

  20. OMG! I love this book! My friend showed it to me one day in the school cafeteria and I love it! I hope there are more than eleven because in one day i read 3! Im sooo stoked!

  21. i love this books………….great!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. I really only read this series on a whim and despite the the popularity and the good reviews it gets I just couldn’t find myself liking it that much (on a deep level). couldn’t really relate to Hatsumi very much except the virginity part. But I when I was in high school I felt no pressure to have sex or even to have a boyfriend(weird I know.) Anyway I was a
    bit disappointed with the ending and I’m not sure why.

    But it is a good read if you’re looking for complex relationships and soap opera like situations. Even if I didn’t like the ending I must have liked it to some degree right? To keep reading it to the end. ^_^

  23. I haven’t read the book yet but I just ordered it at Indigo. I was just wondering what the rating of Hot Gimmick is?

  24. ryoki is actually a romantic guy.i love her….but it take a long time to get new hot gimmick at my place…..i hope i can watch hg tv series..i hope so..

  25. [...] The final volume of Hot Gimmick came out months ago, but I’ve put off talking about it because it was such a disappointment. This was the series that, with volume 1, got me reading manga; now, I’m not sure I can still recommend it. (I’ve also removed it from my list of suggested manga starting points.) [...]

  26. I love it!!!! it was my first-ever-experience reading a manga comic…and it sure is addictive!!!

  27. Radena Sindara

    This is a truly good book with natural and realistic modern-day drama with sentiments. Miki Aihara has a good way of keeping her readers wondering and wondering and usually with good reasons.Hatsumi is a little TOO empty-headed for me. She’s cute and Miki Aihara tried to portray Hatsumi as a naive girl but sometimes up to a ridiculuos point. Any girl would just want off their rapists(or in this case, Azusa Odagiri), not apologizing! That’s just STOOPID. Overall, this comic is worth every penny.

  28. cikpong_mangamaniac

    i want hatsumi lastly with shinogu!

  29. i have to say that i read the whole series and it was quite addictive, but also infurating i wanted to put it down and say “to hell with this shit” after volume7, but i kept reading it.(nothing better to do? maybe) It goes around in circles and our heroen doesn’t have a brain. (harsh?….yeah…..but so true)and the blonde dude it a twisted perv…..but he’s nice sometimes….scrach that because it’s twisted, confusing nice. ending sucked ass.o….so very mad.when i was done i felt like it stole a chunk of my life.i herd there are alternater endings? ;>

  30. this manga sickened me. don’t get me wrong, i read the whole thing and thought it had the potential to be kind of romantic, but it ended up being a story about unhealthy obsesstion and relationship abuse. i understand that love is a passionate affair of swirling emotions and non-sensical actions and what not, but there is a fine line between a healthy realtionship and an unhealthy relationship, and HG is an example of the latter. Hatsumi was treated with no repect by ryoki and was refered to, and considered a slave (which has the potential to be interesting, but was just exploitation in this instance), a dog, and a piece of luggage. she was also admitedly afraid of ryoki throughout the entire story and because of his insistance, began believing that she was stupid and worthless. this is not love. and i understand that ryoki’s childhood was in some way deficient and may be the cause of his actions and thoughts, but its not ok just to accept that as an excuse for his behaviour. one of the cool things about stories is watching the characters develop into new people by learning some life lesson. Hatsumi did not grow, and neither did ryoki. this was an example of an emotionally abusive (and sometimes physically abusive) relationship that was applaued by friends and family. They show movies in high school warning kids about this kind of thing because it is wrong and all people, no matter their gender, should be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve as a human being. i was really disgusted with how ryuki treated hatsumi and that she chose him in the end. i shudder to think that this is socially acceptable and hope that no young girl gets a hold of it.

  31. I avoided buying Hot Gimmitck for a long time. The cover art did not inspire me to look at it. But I kept seeing ads for it so flipped through a book to see if I liked the drawings. I wasn’t crazy about them so again didn’t buy it. Then one day I thought, “what the heck.” Oh. My. Gosh. TOTALLY got addicted to it and it is one of favorite series and I have re-read several times (and now I appreciate the details in the art). I did feel it ended rather abruptly though. I believe the story could have gone on for the ENTIRE volume 12 so it didn’t feel so rushed. I also believe the story could have actually gone on for a few more volumes even. But in any case, I did like who Hatsumi ended up with in the end. For those who prefer she ended up with the “other” person, the Hot Gimmick NOVEL has that alternate ending. So there you ago. A happy ending for everyone.

  32. Are you going to keep making these hot gimmick books because i love these books there so adictive
    but,thats whaat i like about it as a matter of one time i read 4 in one day cant wait to read another.
    Thank you so much. :)

  33. Radena Sindara

    Heh, I was NOT happy when Hatsumi chose Ryouki!
    I wannted her to choose Shinogu! And what’s up with Shinogu wanting to be a monk?
    WTF!? Anyway, there will a new book called Hot Gimmick S where the revolves around if hatsumi chose Shinogu! Waiting for that one! So, people…wait!

  34. Rachel, Book 12 is the end of the series. As Radena mentions, there is an additional novel called Hot Gimmick S, but it’s prose, not manga, and just the one volume.

  35. Radena – the novel is already out.

  36. Radena Sindara

    The book is out?
    *le gasp*
    Have you bought it? How’s the book? Is it written in words like a storybook or drawn just like a manga? I wanna know!!!! One way or another I’ll buy it. Again, I wish Hatsumi chose her bro! I’m definitely going to buy this book!

  37. I talked about the novel here. It’s written, not drawn.

  38. I didn’t buy it because I do like who Hatsumi chose in the manga. The book is a novel and is very short. I wouldn’t even call it a “novel” because it isn’t very “meaty” the way a novel would typically be. I skimmed through it and wasn’t that impressed by it, so I didn’t get it. BUT, if you prefer Hatsumi to have chosen her other option, then you will definitely want to get the novel so you will be satisfied with the novel’s alternate ending.

  39. i want hatsumi with her bro

  40. [...] the charm and smarts of the lead boy in Cheeky Angel and all the self-reliance of the lead girl in Hot Gimmick… in other words, a loser with nothing to recommend him who should be locked up instead of [...]

  41. [...] it’s not nearly as good as I hoped, given that the author wrote one of my favorite mangas, Hot Gimmick. [...]

  42. -Spoilers-
    aaaaarg i dontt believe it This suks
    big time !
    she chose ryoki! WTF he treats her bad
    he thinks shes crap insults her
    hes posesive , full of himself and still he won >?

    WTF !!!!!!!!!!!!

    this manga was incredibly good but im pretty sad about this finale
    she loves him even though he insults her?
    wat kind of love is that
    shes pretty weak, cant believe she chose him
    in my opinion there was no one for her
    not even shinogu.. well shinogu was ok
    but no one else
    idk what to think anymore

  43. What? She chooses Ryoki? WTH??

    I love the comic, totally addicted to it but Hatsumi is too naive for my liking. And a bit bimbo-ish too :( And Shinogu is better looking than Ryoki and Azusa!

  44. Radena Sindara

    I agree with Rain. Hatsumi is unrealistically naive.

  45. Hye guys! I didn’t buy this comic actually but i’ve read this comic so many times! Oh gosh! Once, I got excited to know what will happens in the next volume. The story is different from other comic around. At the beggining, i hate ryoki…..and the hate feeling last till the end of the story…hahahaha. Even hatsumi hook up with ryoki at last, i still want hatsumi to be together with shinogu! Shinogu is more suitable for hatsumi…ryoki for me is too arrogant always wants to hurt hatsumi’s feeling. And I totally agree with rain. Shinogu is more(100x) charming than ryoki! Last but not least, Akane n Subaru have the sweetest love story i’ve ever read! Huhuhu….

  46. [...] two favourites from Simon and Schuster’s new catalogue are Naruto and Hot Gimmick. The Naruto series, a shonen about a trainee ninja, is on its 36th volume (and still going), and [...]

  47. [...] I also want to go back and look at the blogger’s original post too, because there’s something else there: “My two favourites from Simon and Schuster’s new catalogue are Naruto and Hot Gimmick.” [...]

  48. i just finished reading the manga, and it left me with mixed feelings. in the end, among all three possible guys, i was glad she ended up choosing ryoki, and at the same time having some backbone, and actually starting to learn to choose her happiness over trying to meet the expectations and best socially acceptable solution e.g. going for shinogu to keep their family a family. in a way, i get what most people say about ryoki being abusive at first, but among all the three guys present, including shinogu, ryoki really turns out to be the best among all 3. ryoki in the end has changed his view from viewing women as mere objects and playthings which explains his earlier actions to hatsumi to actually caring and learning to love someone and in the end growing as a person and learning to call hatsumi by name in the final chapter.in the end he actually can be considered the sanest character in the whole manga, the one who ended up to be the first one to accept and realize the truth to the situation and force others to see it as well. as a whole, i think what the author tried to do, albeit maybe not as good as possible, was to show who the true “abusers” were in the story, and how in the end it is all a matter of choice and learning to deal with the truth that decides whether you are abused or not. what had me disappointed in the end was the lack of character growth to the two other male characters in the manga -asuza who ends up still being static with his continuous desire for revenge, and shinogu who has sublimated his feelings for nearly the entire storyline and chose to run away in the end rather than deal with rejection and move on.
    although it may have been a commentary on the author’s part on how life will always have difficulties or stuff, i would have rather preferred a better resolution for these two male characters who i think deserved better, after all the character development that was inserted for these two.

  49. Even though it was eye-catching due to the unusual plot…but anyone get the feeling that it’s just plain WRONG?! there’s something twisted and sinister about having a demanding and possessive lover that has no respect for your opinions. it takes a girl with no self confidence in order to love someone who doesn’t respect for her and her family. I weathered through the entire series only to be horribly disappointed…just like you said. it almost seems like the author ran out of ideas or time and decided to shove the lose ends into a big ball of knots and hide it in a closet. At least that’s what went on with the character of Shinogu…really now, priesthood?! It never even goes on to detail about Azusa’s masterplot to destroy Tachibana’s little world. For a story’s plot to rely so heavily at first on Azusa’s past, the ending was more like an “I give up on this” statement. Not to mention, that the story was not realistic at all. If the author wanted the ending to illustrate how real life has difficulties and things don’t always turn out as we want them to, then she’s done a horrible job illustrating it by using the RyokiXHatsumi pairing. Realistically, Ryoki will never change or at least not progress enough even by his adulthood to ever love someone “normally”. He will always be demanding and possessive to a heavy degree towards Hatsumi. The poor girl was never given a chance to mature as a character. She’s just choosing the easy way out of a mess, because it’s so much easier to rely on the dictatorship of an abusive boyfriend than to actually grow balls to explore and find out the type of men she really likes without having to disappoint the people around her. So instead of disappointing Ryoki (she already disappointed the family), she’s using Ryoki as a security blanket to never move out of her little comfort zone. Completely unrealistic. A total time waster…

  50. yeah i think the same thing as cherry tis manga is tottally unrealistic and besides i was on chapter 10 and i saw this stupid spoiler right here and i really was dissapointed when reading about hatsumi choosing ryoki dammit i’m so pissed off i wo´’t finish reading hot gimmick ‘cuz from what cherri says there is nothing about azuza and shinogu anymore a total waste of paper in the first 11 tomes if the end was like that… but that’s just my opinion u know… i would’ve preferred her going out with her ex-brother and having a family and kids that would’ve been my finale if i was the author this is the first shoujo shoujo… i read the other one was fruits basket but this is more shoujish xD ‘cuz don’t have the magic stuff going on xD waaa… this is the last time i read shoujo ‘cuz it really pisses u off if doesn’t end like u would’ve like it xD

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