by Kio Shimoku; adaptation by David Ury
published by Del Rey Manga; $10.95 US
I’d previously tried the first book in this series, but then, it didn’t click with me. Now, I felt less like I was reading a book, and more as though I was meeting a new group of people, friends of friends (since I’ve had so many recommendations about the series).
That approach helped, since there was a lot I wasn’t told about these characters — it is book seven, after all. Still, it didn’t matter. If I didn’t know them, I knew the type, given my time at conventions and in fandom.
It seems that the president of the visual culture club has a strong predilection for cosplay, which makes one of the creepier club members sweaty and off-putting. That’s just an introduction to the main story of the book, which deals with a young artist debuting her manga at the huge Comicfest. She’s ambivalent about the honor, because she draws explicit yaoi, and she doesn’t want her friends to see it. She’s embarrassed by what her art reveals about her fantasies.
The president comforts her with the group’s acceptance. As geeks, they aren’t in a position to be judgmental of others’ hobbies or kinks. Some of the older members are distracted by a more important struggle, anyway: that of finding a job.
When the president isn’t trying to encourage the artist to complete her work, she’s trying to set her up with another club member, a friendly gesture that nicely humanizes the characters. The couple clearly has feelings for each other, but they’re too young and shy to do anything without a little help.
This book also includes two American guests, come to visit the club president and attend Comicfest. One gets a lot of attention because she’s large-breasted, and the other is a bad-tempered underage porn fiend. The thorough art grounds the more exaggerated nature of some of the characters by making it all more realistic with detail.
I enjoyed sharing these characters’ hopes and dreams, so I’ll be looking for the other books to learn more about them.
(A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)