Hot Gimmick Book 12

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.)

Originally, I loved the emotional drama. Hatsumi was shy and self-effacing, but I had great hopes that, as she learned to love and be loved, she would develop more confidence and gain experience standing up for herself. She needed to accept the validity of her own feelings.

She wasn’t the only character who needed to grow up. Spoiled smart rich boy Ryoki was another with a lot of potential. If he could learn to stop date raping and start asking instead of demanding, he’d be a great man.

Hot Gimmick Book 12cover
Hot Gimmick Book 12
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None of that happened. (Spoilers from this point on, obviously.) Hatsumi’s drawn back to Ryoki because she loves him no matter what. This depth of feeling is questionable to the reader — he’s attractive, and perhaps the idea of him having personal magnetism is believable, but given the way he treats her, her succumbing to this overwhelming “love” paints her as accepting a picture of herself as a self-martyring victim. (Although, if the story’s portrayal of Japanese cultural politics is accurate, that’s considered very attractive in a teen girl.)

That attitude of Hatsumi’s, the pathological self-sacrifice, is also alluded to in flashback, where she was willing to sleep with her adoptive brother, although she didn’t love him, just to keep the family together. Then she winds up taking romantic advice from her 14-year-old sister (you remember, the one who starts the story with a pregnancy scare?).

While everyone’s telling Hatsumi how selfish and bad for her Ryoki would be (all true, based on what we’ve seen in the story itself), she keeps telling herself that she loves him and she can’t do anything about the way she feels. I get the disturbing feeling that we’re supposed to applaud her finally making a choice, seizing on something and standing firm, but since what she’s holding tight to is the idea that “there are some feelings you can’t do anything about”, it’s really just another example of her ducking out of making decisions and taking responsibility for them.

She says she’s made a choice, but it’s more that she’s acquiescing to a stronger will than hers, especially when Ryoki shows up and suddenly demands to marry her as soon as he’s of age. Her thought balloon, “Maybe if we got married, he’d finally be nice to me” sums up why this all is so disgusting. That’s followed by their first sex scene, during which Hatsumi says “no… stop…” the whole time.

Let me say again, I had very high hopes for the series, expecting all this to teach Hatsumi some important lessons and provide opportunity for character growth. She doesn’t. She’s still the same insecure, wishy-washy girl at the end of the series that she is at the beginning, still being ordered around by Ryoki, and that’s the part that’s so frustrating. What’s the point in spending three years and around 2000 pages on a series when the lead doesn’t change or grow?

Oh, and just to confirm the cheesiness of this final volume, the adoptive brother with a crush on Hatsumi decides that if he can’t have her, he’ll become a monk. No, really, he out of nowhere takes Buddhist vows. Made me wonder if someone had been reading Jane Austen in Japanese translation or something.

Even stranger, the book ends with a plug for the upcoming Hot Gimmick S, a novel version of the story that’s promoted as having a different ending in which Hatsumi chooses Shinogu (who doesn’t become a monk).


  1. This was a good storyline…I kind of wish she got a better man than Ryoki or at least RYOKI COULD’VE CHANGED TO A BETTER PERSON or something….I really liked her brother though…I feel very sad for him he has to like watch his sister [ whom he loves ] fall in love with someone else…and he knows he cant have her….

  2. agreed, reading this I felt sad.(spoiler obviously)

    – At first I liked Asuzi(sp?) than he became an asshole but with reason(even thought he did take it too far.)

    – Than during the attempted-rape scene, I began to become more attached to Ryoki, I assumed this was her story telling technique and I loved where it was going and the next couple of volumes were great, but than it went down hill.

    As I said(and stated in the article several times) Ryoki’s an asshole, if a guy who almost let his childhood friend get raped by his friends has more redeeming qualities than the main male-lead. Something is odd here.

    – Ryoki and Hatsumi learned absolutely nothing in these past 12 volumes, if anything they turned into stereotypical divorce family you see on channel 5.

    The only characters that improved or shown improvement were Asuzi, Akane, akane’s boyfriend(name escapes me), Shinogu(? sorta…The monk thing uhh..), and even Ryoki’s mother sort of’ish. All the side characters gain development but not the lead!?

    Also what about the hierarchy, that is mentioned and shown many times(the ignore everybody in the family arc) and it has been proven to be very evil, large, and powerful. However almost no detail go into it.

    Anyways, sorry to anyone who reads this is and it seems random and I just needed to rant, thanks for letting me use your blog as a venting point, and I whole heartedly agree with you.

  3. The ending just ruined my liking of the book
    it was so good until…..the last the book!!
    it was so disappointing seriously.
    if the ending was little better than i bet it would be as famous as fruits basket or sumthin

  4. I just finished reading the whole series about 1hr ago.
    I want my money back.

    I’ve had vol 1 for about five years now and I wish I had kept it that way. At least with just having read that, I thought that Azusa was awesome and that she would end up with him!

    Fox’s explanation of their emotional experience while reading the series sums it up for me quite nicely.

    All I can say is, I was thoroughly disappointed. I only enjoyed chapters which contained side character story lines (i.e. only Akane/Subaru stuff).

    I’m just glad that a large group of people out there feel the same way about the ending as I do.

    (I did read one comment from someone who was hoping for her to get with Ryoki and was happy that it did happen.)

    That was the hugest let down I have ever read. I read these girly shojo stuff to forget about my own shitty life. And instead I’m met with someone else’s shitty life which keeps getting shittier but because that person is a dense, naive twit she thinks it’s awesome happy time!
    (Can you tell I’m mad?)

  5. the Under-Cover Fan Girl


    I just got to the point where Ryoki slapped Hatsumi online, and I was infuriated with everything I’ve read so far. I love shoujo manga, and even though some might harp that this series was realistic, (I know plenty of insecure girls) the promotion of this near-abusive relationship pisses me off to no end, especially with the shameless dismissal of Shinogu, who I thought deserved a lot more.

    I don’t plan on finishing the series, because obviously it ended just as badly as I thought it would. I saw a list that ranked this series as the best shoujo of all time, above Fruits Basket, and I’m glad to know that that was a bunch of bull. I was seriously angered by nearly ever character (from gang-rape Azusa, to date-rape Ryoki, to spineless Hatsumi), and now I feel free from the burden of finishing it all. What’s a story without a theme or morals, anyway?

  6. I agree with all the way..

    Well, I could say i was stubborn enough to think that she and Shinogu would end up together. but i just can’t help but despise Ryoki.. power-drunk,demanding and has no respect for women.. >.<
    haha I think I'm in love with Shinogu what a waste. he became a monk T_T

  7. I’m typing this on my iPod, so I might make a bunch of mistakes xD…

    I’m so glad I found others who disposed the ending! When I started, I found it slow, then when Azusa came into it I thought it’d get good, and it did for a while. Then the stupid rape shit just ruined that >_> I absolutely hate ryoki beyond believe, I regularly found myself reading and finding ways to kill him and get Hatsumi with Shinogu. Towards the end Azusa redeemed himself and made
    Me enjoy it again, especially the bits with him and Shinogu. I really hoped Shinogu and Hatsumi would get together, even though they’re basically brother and sister. I spose that’s because I see alot of myself in Shinogu in that he see’s what he wants so desperately and yet he can never have it. But fact is, I’d’ve been happy having Azusa and Hatsumi work, because it makes me happy watching the characters you care about actually be happy together.

    Oh, not sure if I mentioned it, cause I can only see two or three lines on my iPod at a time, and I’m so lazy I Cbf scrolling up to check, but what happens to Shinogu is so cheap, the like the author though “oh, he’s a massive loose end, how can I make it look like a cleaner end?” So she dumped him at a temple and turned him into a monk, really? Atleast let him have a relationship with someone somehow!!!

    So that’s my rant.

  8. Madamoiselle Awesome

    This was such an awesome series!
    I couldn’t wait to see hatsumi end up with shinogu (that was my hope ever since the beginning :D)
    and you know, eventually gain some self esteem! her submissiveness was starting to make me impatient.
    And then…….BAM -> disappointment -_-
    I mean come on! I was sooo excited about the ending and when I got to it I thought is this it?
    oh well let’s have an anime with my preffered ending at least ;D

  9. Im a hatsumi x ryouki fan not to mention I like the part where they made love I have heard of passion sex to. where the girl say No and her mind is saying yes yes I have had it before. I can say my guy use to be like ryouki but I feel inlove he never changed nor did I plus we are engaged now. I feel so happy to read this manga azusa is no better neither is shinogu. Guys are kind of all the same but I have the best part me and that’s my guy. He is every bot of ryouki opposites do attract. I enjoy this couple she should of made her pregnant that would of been cute. Its not abuse its a tough love as they say. Ryouki was only afraid that he loose hatsumi he has had feelings the whole I LOVE THIS MANGA.

  10. […] Yugi, Hot Gimmick, and Inuyasha. Again, two of these were lengthy series (although the demented Hot Gimmick was only 12), and they were already successful in the U.S. The binding up of three books under one […]

  11. Highly, disappointed. just like Kashimashi. i wish i never read this manga.I mean, it was good, i mean, very Good. but the ending, just, trash.

  12. […] them this tripe about suffering for love. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the execrable Hot Gimmick is the biggest ad in the back of the book — they have the same masochistic approach to […]

  13. This whole manga was depressing. I have such mixed feelings about it, because I got attached to some of the characters.

    I tried to like Hatsumi, but she just pisses me off most of the time. She can’t stick up for herself at all and makes women in general look horrible. I find it absolutely disgusting that she “falls in love” with the man who does nothing but boss her around and abuses her in every way.

    Ryoki is the most infuriating. I cannot believe that he hit her and blamed her for it. He’s completely selfish and definitely just seems like the wants what he can’t have kind of person. I tried to like his character, and there were moments where I almost thought I could. He ruined that very quickly on the next page.

    Azusa I even forgave for the gang-rape incident. She made his character likeable again. I probably would have been okay with her ending up with him at the end.

    I got attached to Shinogu and fell in love with him. I was so disappointed when she didn’t choose him, and she was stupid enough to think that her brother was magically okay with her choosing Ryoki over him. The author made you feel so bad for Shinogu, because he had such a rough life. He did so much for Hatsumi and for so many years couldn’t tell her how he felt. It almost felt like they couldn’t have a relationship just because he was too late in saying anything. He really got screwed in the end.

    I’m not sure what the author thought she was going with the storyline here, but this is the only manga that I’ve read till the end and felt completely disatisfied.

  14. This review perfectly expresses all of my disappointments with the ending of this series. No character development. No feeling of progression. Like you this was one of the first manga I got into and recommended it to a lot of people, which I really regret now. I loved Hatsumi because I saw a lot of potential in her, but she didn’t even begin to live up to it.
    This story was darker than most shojo manga, but it really failed to live up to the responsibilities that came with that. There were no negative consequences for any of the characters who abused Hatsumi- not only that, but Ryoki is effectively rewarded!
    I enjoyed the early part of the series; it was funny, sad and the drama kept you turning the pages- but the messages it teaches about sex, relationships and power are completely messed up and I’d hate to think of what I might have taken away from it if I’d read it when I 14 instead of 17.

  15. i just finished reading this today.. and i agree it was very disappointing. then ending sucks. and i can’t believe the author made shinogu a priest or something. i hope someone can remake this manga.

  16. The ending was unsatisfying for me because it was wrapped up so quickly that it’s like the author threw off all the characters without truly finishing each of their developments and hardly cared for it.

    Hatsumi & Ryoki – despite being so dense and aloof to any kind of idea no matter how wrong it seemed from him, she displayed a “submissive” attitude of that of a masochist to her sadistic master. Yeah, I get the idea that a lot of relationships nowadays are an abusive cycle like that, they did sorta show a growth, but due to how fast it was all wrapped up for the end, it looked like it didn’t.
    Hatsumi learned to finally show Ryoki that he is important to her, by making him feel number 1, while not having to put her friends or her family aside, and also she got to “become” his. In return, Ryoki learns to be nicer to her.
    The fact I hated that “growth” was that they only seem to display such character when they are alone…While in public, Ryoki still treats her like a slave while she still just does what ever he commands…
    Deep down…despite feeling sorry for him, to me the relationship with Shinogu was always disturbing…I mean..I tried to put myself on her place…if I found out, after 17 years, that my brother is not my real relative, and has been in love with me all this time and wants me…I’d be… disgusted…He knew since the start, so yeah he’d fall in love and might think about it, but she didn’t, she only grew up as his sister…much like Hatsumi, I’d still call him brother(onii-chan) and would most certainly not care he was adopted and see him as my brother…but engage in a relationship just like that?? eww no…even she kept calling him brother…why would I have sex with someone I’d end up telling things like “noo brother, stop..oh brother, you’re so good” *gagged a bit*….That’s why she couldn’t as well…she went in denial telling herself he forgave her, she just didn’t want to think too much and get troubled upon her brother’s feelings just so she could have the excuse “oh brother is okay so now i can get married” and stay with Ryoki…she just makes excuses about her surroundings to hide the fact she is just with him because…just because….there’s no point to it…she is probably just a masochist, and since the abuse kept happening since childhood, she grew to only do as she was told by him…
    I do feel sorry and angry when it comes to Ryoki…He has a jealousy issue when it comes to other men, he tends to feel insecure around Hatsumi and guys, why? because he grew up thinking he was perfect, and the fact that she keeps choosing others BUT him, makes him feel like he is not, even if he doesn’t say it, which angers him into hitting her or w/e, though the physical abuse get’s toned down little by little because he IS growing to be nicer, we just can’t see it because the ending was(again) wrapped up too fast, and didn’t even felt like it was even finished….every time he says “It’s your fault this or that happened” he runs away and faints in fevers…when in reality, he is freaking out because he knows he did something really bad to someone he cared for, but he can’t come up to say he is sorry…too proud for it, but he is very sorry, which is why he ends up making excuses like “if she comes back in 10mnts i’ll forgive her”, “if she says this or that I’ll take her back” just to justify himself and think what he did wasn’t as bad, instead of running after her and saying sorry…which can be quite hateful…and I’ve met AH guys who do that…Like when they were little, he seemed to have liked her because she said she liked to play alone, much like himself, so he said the King and servant game just to spend time with her…he even brought snacks for them the next day, but felt betrayed when for the first time, he brought another boy to “His, and now theirs” place, he only intended to push her so she’d leave, but she was close to the stairs and fell…he freaked out and when heard little Azusa coming, he ran off, he was so scared he fainted…she was his first friend, and was the first to betray him…which is why he treated her that way…which if you look later on…she kept doing that…always picking him last, always with other guys, she was just too aloof to how he felt, much like any boyfriend would feel if you hang around guys all the time and never give him any of your time.
    And the deal with Azusa…wtf? left it in a -to be continued- moment, after all, they are like 1 year away from getting married or so, so I bet he’ll try to destroy the engagement so he can have his revenge…he said so…and before that, when he gave Hatsumi the flowers, and despite always rooting for Shinogu…it seemed he also loved Hatsumi…and it can be seen through all the chapters…but out of all the guys there, ignoring what he almost did to her…he is the most mature and respectful one of them all, even while trying to execute some revenge, he is still very adult like in those situations…made me wish all the guys were like them. Also Shinogu’s roommate Kazama I think it was, he was also most mature…and he liked Akane as well, he kept trying to steal her from Subaru, and after the message she read, she had a “heartbeat” moment, she even seemed to think about! so, they also left us with another -to be continued-
    That’s why I’m so disappointed in the manga…cause it felt like it stopped in an ending that was not an ending…not even the light novel’s ending made me any happier….
    I guess to completely think I would ever be satisfied, will be to only imagine what happens next and how they characters finally grow in my personal mind’s story…Like..Shinogu not ending a monk and having Asahi go visit him cause she’s been worried after finding out Hatsumi is getting married, and over time, she talks with him and he confesses how he’s been feeling and in that vulnerable moment a sparkle of love inside him can grow for her after she comforts him with a hug or a kiss…i dunno…I mean…She was also a character that had a very depressing end…having the guy you liked to suddenly be adopted and been crushing on his sister? lol wut? gross…and sad….so yeah…
    sad sad days for all the time I wasted sobbing over such an unsatisfying ending.

  17. ManiacTenshi

    Thank you for saying this all, so well put. Now I can save myself the frustration of reading the end of the series. I was worrying Hatsumi would duck out on being a strong person and go for Ryoki still being a jerk and you’ve confirmed this, so again thank you. I’ll put my interest elsewhere.

  18. What a waste of time! Give the people change! I was rooting for Azusa because of his repesctable personality. Although handsome, he revealed a sinister side, sharpening the plot of the manga. Growing to sympathize with the protagonist, I reasoned that Ryouki could be ideal if should his grotesque,insolent mannerisms change. So I continued to read on Despite being a supporter of Azusa, I believed that the author would cjoose the best fit person for Narita and the story and relation ships would explain themselves. Through thre protagonists relationships I expected her to grow into whatever she needed to be and her suitor as well.

    It is of little importance to mention the “change” of Ryoki, a character almost oblivious to the tender nature that is required to sustain a loving relationship. But if there is one beneficial thing about their relationship, it’s the obdurate,adamant nature Ryoki has that forces her to understand that its not always good to be selfless, as you could lose yourself in the process. The author brings out the hackneyed qualities of a rich kid. The selfish attitude, the only child factor, and lets not forget the bossy, bullying manner (hitting a woman! AH HELL NAH!, and calling her stupid words). We expect Hatsumi to rise to gain courage (and self-respect!) in order to leave Ryoki or for Ryoki to gain a soft, sensual touch that all the other males competing for Hatsumi have. Rather, she becomes more subservient to him, and less selfless as she realizes that she must be happy for Hatsumi rather than sacrificing her happyness for others. Hastumi, Ryoki’s goddess, does not gain the courage and independence that we want to see her gain. She submits to his will, rarely having her own say without him screaming that she’s overly concerned about family matters. He teaches her change while still remqoning a spoiled brat that does not care about the state of his family. We brook his stinky attitude holding on to and iota of hope that he will change.

    In many ways, I sympathized with her, changing my point of view several times hoping to respect the author’s view of creativity. But it hurt to know that almost everything in the novel chnges but the least amount of change occurs in their relation ship. In the beginning, he treated her like a dog with a mean owner. At the end, he treats her like a dog with a nicer (not exactly nice) owner. He still acts obstentatiously mean in public and orders her around like a spoiled child, with an if-I-can’t-have-her-no-one-can attitude.

    What does this teach usvabout love? Simple. No on should be treated like a dog. People arent always as they seem. And never be a weakling. Dojt ever be to selfless cuz youll miss out on ur own happyness.

    The worst part for me is when he says that je is more important than God-or at least should be- to her. I dont like that he gets his way the whole time. He is never fully dissappointed, not even once. Its almost as if the only humbling moment he has is that he is stipped of wealth and forced to live in a dorm by himself. The only nice thing about him is that he starts to call her by her first name.But everyone knows thats not a representation of a changed personality.

    The most confusing part was the hurrieed ending. Its almkst as if the athor kinda says I dont care. As i said! Give the people what they want! If youre gonna tie up the endings,tie a boet wt each end. At least do justice to some characters by giving them love interests or some crazy twist that holds an element of surprise and acceptability.

    (Though this whole writeup is an opinionized spoiler, here comes some super spoily stuff) :)
    About thirty chapters in, I began to realize that she would end up with Ryouki because the author spent an ample amount of time bulding their relationship. For it to be anyone else, the reader would have to spend time building up more feelings and anticipate it. That’s why I wasnt really thrown off by Shinogu’s “99th hour” confession. It was too late. I just started to believe that perhaps it could work as I didnt want her to end up with such an arrogant person ; Ryouki: “If I cant have her she should just die!” Would you wanna date a person like that? Is anyone here up for abusive relationships? I dont think so…I dont think so…

    Anyway, I was in it for Azusa from day 1. But the way hings turned out, I contemplated going on a manga hiatus or using a romantic manga to alleviate the acrid taste this one left in my mouth [and probly urs too ;)].

    P.S. I learned about this mangawhen my friend started reading when we were younger. She eventually stopped reading it. (Nevr asked her why, how stupid of me) Then i say a collection in barnes and noble and decided to give it a go after she decribed the tantalzing opening scenes years ago. Now i read it in about a week onlinie over the space of about 12 hours. So dissappointed. :/


    (Ah…i think i can go on with my life now….what a waste of 12 hours….)

    Leave agreements or disagreements….

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