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
Buy this book

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. Yeah I was very displeased to see this series end with the lead basically making the same mistake at the end of the series as she did at the first of it.

    Luckily I’ve found other series since I first got hooked by this series, but seeing such a fav. crash and burn was just kind of sad.

  2. Totally agree. I read v. 12 at a used bookstore about a month ago, and disliked the ending so much I brought in the whole series for credit. It all seems kinda tainted now.

  3. From volume 10 on, this series just irritated me. Hatsumi’s belief that Ryoki would treat her better after they married made me realize that she is too stupid to live. I hate when good books go bad. Leaves an even worst taste in your mouth than last month’s chicken salad that’s still lingering in the fridge….

  4. […] At Comics Worth Reading, Johanna is so disgusted with the last volume of Hot Gimmick that she’s reconsidering the whole series. There are spoilers in the post, but it’s an interesting addition to the discussion about shoujo role models. […]

  5. I stopped reading Japanese girls’ comics after seeing far too many storylines with characters like these. I’ll try your recommendations some time. I didn’t have any guidelines back then.

  6. Your feelings on this series, from beginning to end, mirror my own reactions to a T. I was so disgusted with the last volume, I felt compelled by the urge to burn it. Never did, but these may be the first books I ever just throw away so that nobody else ever reads them. Which is such a shame because I loved the art and pacing and storytelling itself. But really . . . why doesn’t Hatsumi just jab a pencil in her eye? The ending would have been that less painful if she had.

  7. […] In books, you may recall me mentioning that there was a Hot Gimmick novel. I’ve been sent a copy of Hot Gimmick S, and I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. […]

  8. Being a real fan of Miki Aihara’s work the pathetic ending of this manga really saddens me, although admittedly I am mildly intrigued by the alternative ending in Hot GimmickS

  9. I was so happy with the ending. it made me so happy. I did not like Hot Gimmick S. but het, thats just me. I felt that Shinougu didn’t care enough to fight for Hatsumi. Ryoki did love her enough to have been trying to get the whole time. Yes hes an ass, but he does have his reasons. And Shinougu was such a wimpy push over.

    These are just my feeling, I’ve noticed that on a lot of forums most people share y’all’s view, so don’t kill me. i just felt Ryoki needed someone in the real world to speak up for him!

  10. I thought the book was awsome from the beginning to the end. I think that Hatsumi staying the way she was from the beginning to the end was more realistic since people don’t always change. Also eew Shinougu was her brother even if they weren’t blood related they were raised together so for me that relationship was over when it started.

  11. i loved the series in the beginning, but as the series went on i began to hate it because i hated Ryoki’s character. In k dramas and j dramas the guys are mean to a point, but they aren’t abusive and don’t try forcing their girls to have sex with them. It never really shows that Ryoki really loves her. If he did he’d change. And she’s a fool for staying by his side and letting him treat her the way he does. I wanted her to end up with Azusa cuz he’s the only one that changes for the better. I recommend that you don’t read the series. If you are the least tempted to, read the first book only, cuz she’s with azusa in that one. hahahahha

  12. I love this series, despite the totally weird ending and the “I can’t stand up for myself! Waah!” thing Hatsumi had going on. And now I feel guilty for introducing my friend to this series. It’s her intro to manga and I’m afraid I’ll scar her for life… T-T

    It’s funny, how looking back at the series I kept on thinking, “If only Hatsumi grew a little back-bone, If only Ryoki grew up and quit being a selfish jackass…”

    But, hell, I guess that’s why there’s fan fiction. ^^U

  13. I actually got hooked and liked the book, however as I see in many mangas with these types of situations “I keep my thoughts to myself and I can’t fight/say anything though” thing. I have read many mangas that have these situations, trust me. Anywho, I love the story and the character design. I thought it was great. But yes, I do have to agree that the ending did disappointed me (Manga Series, I haven’t read the “S” version), although the benefits of the ending was that it had great twist and it was something different that you wouldn’t expect. It did shock me that Hatsumi didn’t end up with Ryoki or Shinougu. (I wanted Hatsumi to end up with Ryoki, but thats just me :P) Its one of the best Shojo Mangas I have read and I suggest if your the type to read these types of things, you should take a chance :)

  14. I had mixed feelings about the ending of this manga. I liked that Hatsumi ended up with Ryoki because even though he was a jerk he was honest with her about his feelings and he didn’t try to use her for revenge. I too wish that Hatsumi could have grown a little bit of a backbone but I think she did grow a little. I mean she did choose Ryoki despite the fact that the only people who wanted that to happen were Akane and Subaru. I also think there might be some small hope for Ryoki because he did start calling Hatsumi by her first name. Chaning takes time and it takes even more time for people like Ryoki who aren’t that good at interacting with people or understanding their own feelings. So, even though the ending could have been better (I would have liked to see Hatsumi Ryoki just once) I still thought this was a pretty good read. Oh also The Shinougu monk thing was pretty weird.

  15. Edit to previous line where it says (I would have liked to see Hatsumi Ryoki just once) change to (I would have liked to see Hatsumi slap Ryoki just once)

  16. i’m happy that hatsumi ended up with ryoki, even though attimes he was a big jerk, there is no such thing as the perfect relationship.besides it would have been stupid for her to end up with azusa, because it all boils down to him almost getting her ganged rapped and for hatsumi to end up with shinougu would have been EWWW! so maybe it was good he became a monk.

  17. i’m happy that hatsumi ended up with ryoki, sure there relationship would need alot of work in te communication aspect of it bu thatsumi to be with azusa would have been wrong because even though he had every right to be made he seriouly almost got hatsumi ganged rapped. Shinougu would have been the worst guy she could have ended up with because that would have just been WRONG! he’s her brother (sort of)

  18. i adored the manga from beginning to end. though i’m inexperienced with manga, as i’m a noob, i enjoyed the plot thoroughly. Hatsumi was annoying at times…but heck, i loved all her outfits! I also agree that Ryoki was the perfect choice for her =)

  19. hatsumi did not choose her how about giv shinogu 2 me..haha..i’ll accept him.ehee.shinogu handsome!!i love him..hi;p

  20. I always thought Hot Gimmick sounded horrendously creepy. And then I see this.

    So, lead female sticks with creepy jerk who kept her as a slave because she wuvs him and Can’t Help How She Feels, while only able to vaguely hope he’ll be nice in the future…. and that’s a happy ending. I may need a shower just for KNOWING about this.

  21. Like Johanna this was the series that got me reading manga. It has left me feeling unclean for ever having enjoyed it. I had a sinking feeling over the course of the last few volumes that the manga-ka was not going to give us the only possible happy ending: Hatsumi growing up and choosing to not be with any of the boys. Reading comments from all the girls who actually think choosing an abusive boyfriend was a good choice is terrifying. (not just here but elsewhere). You can’t fix an abuser. My copies of this series will definitely be going to the recyclry to be shredded rather than to the used book store.

  22. I actually liked the ending. Yes, Ryoki was and is a controlling jackass, but I just couldnt hate him. He really wasen’t that bad when you think about it. even though I was moderatly happy with the ending, it would have been an all around better series if Hatsumi actually matured and didn’t choose any of the boys.

  23. What Mr. Otaku said is true: it’s damn hard to hate that bastard! Or maybe I just have a thing for guys with glasses…

    Even after reading articles (please keep in mind these were very good articles with evidence to support its claims) on the ‘net saying that Ryoki was an abusive a-hole and a bad example for young shojo readers, what truly opened my eyes was when a very dear friend of mine (another one who I introduced to Hot Gimmick) said that Ryoki’s selfishness reminded her of her boyfriend… This being the one who left her bloody on one occasion and unconscious on another…

    Yeah, I wasn’t too thrilled to hear that either…

    But I still can’t hate the story! I’m disappointed in Hatsumi for not standing up for herself and I want to grab Ryoki by the ear and take him to counseling. I also want to slap one Mr. Tachibana for ruining everyone’s life! but the fact that I want to do all these things is because Miki Aihara made this story so intriguing and so involving that we do get pissed off and angry and have all these emotions.

    Luv, SL

  24. I brought the first book and was hooked. I read the next to in my loacl bookstore and then read the last of it online. I think i whould have just kept with reading the first 3 XD
    Dont get me wrong, i ADORE this series and wish i had it on my book shelf, but i cant bring my self to buy it as i was kinda disapointed by the ending and the lack of development in the characters.
    Im glad it turned out the way it did though, as i wouldnt have wanted her to be with anyone other than Ryoki, and you could plainly see through out the story that Ryoki was deeply in love with her *or did i just read into this way too much?*
    over all its a great book, but it gets weak towards the end *though i did cry at the end -hangs head in shame-*

    peace and love

  25. i like it better if hatsumi ends up with azusa… :(

    h8 ryoki. i lyk shinogu but hatsumi already treat him as her own brother so it would be kinda “weird” if she chooses shinogu…




  27. i LOVE this series! it soo sad! y did end soo short? (not really cause they made 12 books) but still! the series was kinda short cause the books were kinda thin for a manga. u gotta admit! id like it better if she chose shinogu! it would be soo interesting! u no it would be! omg! can u imagine what would happen? they’d have sex and everything! hahaha! (^_^)

  28. miss athiera

    i really luv this story…very interesting and full of romantic, humuor, and sad elements…congrats to the the way, i really fall in love with ryoki and azusa….


  30. neway, if there IS Azusa’s version, please inform k?? ty

  31. Despite the attrocious ending, it wasn’t that bad. Sure different people could have been paired off to create a more interesting ending but for the most part it could have sucked a lot worse. Take it from someone who liked Legal Drug.

  32. […] 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. […]

  33. I look at it both ways

    I do agree with the fact that Ryoki’s genuine feelings make him worthy of Hatsumi but HE NEEDS TO CLEAN HIS ACT.

    I do agree with Karin’s (10th poster’s) knowledge on how people don’t always change. And I did want Ryoki to be the one for Hatsumi, only, he must change to some extent nor else as Tennesse Williams depicted in “A Streetcar named Desire” (which HG has allusions to) Ryoki may lose interest in Hatsumi one day. AS D.H. Lawrence hypothetized there’s a need for change in humans (at times) in relationships and if that doesn’t happen you just become deceased and that’s what’s going to happen to Hatsumi and Ryoki.

    In fact what Sirena-Lune (23rd Poster) said was accurate. Her friend’s ASS BOYFRIEND (He’s Non-human where I’m concerned) is a prototype of Ryoki-like men and WOMEN. As Laura (21st Poster) says it is almost at times, unfortunately, uncurable, the desires a twisted mind has and Ryoki, though I could understand his selfishness, turned out a creep. The beautiful, genuine man stayed within never to blossom.

    I give HG 7/10 always for realism and designs but the flawed-ness at the end really BOTHERED ME AND DISTURBED ME. I’m not saying it for its a girl but if it were a boy going after a girl like Ryoki I’d tell that guy to bitch-slap her once (I’m saying this as an expression really, no one should really hit anyone) for her DISGUSTING CONTROLLING NATURE.

    So Ryoki and Hatsumi can work only with changes but Hatsumi may wanna not go after any of these boys. Though Ryoki does love her he’s stupid and so is Hatsumi in their expressions. Because realistic situations like these – they mostly don’t have good endings as Sirena-Lune posted.

    Secondly, the only relationship that bode well to some extent was Akane’s though she was kind of rough on her guy (I forgot his name was it Subaru?) at times (which made me wanna pull her hair because she was being really stupid those times)

    HG had loads of potential. Maybe Miss Aihara didn’t change things in character to avoid stereotypical patterns (where changes are done) but in this case I think she thought her own series had several possibilities – nor else she wouldn’t allow HGS to come out and draw for it.

  34. I just got the 12th book, and after reading the first two pages, the suspense was driving me up the wall so I decided to look for spoilers. And from what I’ve read, the ending sucks. Ryoki is a big ass baby and Asshole, and Hatsumi is dumb and indecisive to the 10th degree. It sucks though, because the story had good potential. Reading through all the volumes was like lighting a huge fire cracker, and it turns out to be a dud.

  35. I agree with the majority that Ryoki and Hatsumi hardly evolved at all in the series. I mean, yes, some people don’t change… but that’s why opposites attract- they cause people to expand horizons and such. And since, well, Hatsumi and Ryoki are obvious, (and oblivious) opposites, I would’ve expected some epiphanies, at least, about how they both influence each other to change, or something like that.

    You see, I kind of liked Ryoki sometimes… only some. And Hatsumi, when in the beginning, making some defense for herself was great, it just gradually… dissolved? I mean, what happened?

    To some people, S/M, psychologically speaking, is consensual… but Hatsumi obviously rejects him, so I sort of see her love for him as genuinely masochistic. It’s sad, but I agree with the fact that Hatsumi can’t help the way she feels, however, only to the extent that some people are just motivated by false hope. It’s something, to say the least.

    Overall, volumes 1-4: good, volumes 5-12: dissapointing, disturbing, and all around a waste of energy and suspense.

  36. That, and… I really liked Azusa’s character, despite his blinding wrath.

  37. Thank god I stopped reading at around volume 4. I just got this horrible “Rape is romantic!” vibe, and I was right. This is just bad for girls everywhere.

  38. Just a question, I was reading this online and I didn’t see the sex scene where she said “No…Stop” The whole time.

  39. That’s one reason you should support the real print translations. You may not be getting the story accurately. Check the book out at your local bookstore or library and you’ll see it.

  40. Well,I thought the ending was perfect(I know,I would want it be a lot more but,…) She did choose Ryoki(yayy!!). I am very contented and finding the relationship between Hatsumi and Shinogu is soooo incest-ness. So EWWW!! Whenever I see them having their moments I would cringe. I would like to disagree with the OP because,first of all…yes,if anyone did notice Hatsumi did stands up for what she believes in. She stands up for her love feelings towards Ryoki and for one time she is actualy doing a favor for herself and I’m really happy that she hasn’t change from this shy and lack of self-confidence to a complete opposite because that would make it suck more. Well,Ryoki hasn’t changed much but if you realized,he is learning what is “love” from Hatsumi despite he has none from his parents. So,that is how I see his character development. I did not attempt to read Hot Gimmick S because I thought it would be very disgusiting. Imagine,falling in love with a guy that we look up to as big brother for a whole 16 years. NO WAY!

  41. […] Aishiteruze Baby and Sensual Phrase), but mostly, I see books that never clicked with me (getting Hot Gimmick off shelves is a blessing) or I lost interest […]

  42. I liked the manga but I kept telling myself what the heck is wrong with Hatsumi. First she is with Ryoki then with Asuza, and then Shinogu. I just wanted her to pick a guy already. I did like the ending because if Hatsumi had not picked Ryoki then in the future she would have died just like Miho, Asuza’s mother.

  43. I’m not done reading the manga, but I wanted to know if I’d be wasting my time or not so I looked for spoilers to see if it’ll have the ending I want. I’m glad Hatsumi ended up with Ryoki, if only because his personality better than Azusa’s, and being with Shinogu after living as brother and sister for all her life is just too ‘EWWWWW!’.

  44. […] do I dare trust you again? Hot Gimmick started with such promise — and then ended with crashing disappointment. Tokyo Boys & Girls, an earlier project, didn’t even end. Now, Honey Hunt features yet […]

  45. […] And damned if I didn’t draw Hot Gimmick, which Comics Worth Reading assures me ends as badly as I thought.1 […]

  46. to be honest i really didn’t think that badly of the ending. the things that you pointed out make a great deal of sense, but given the structure of the story and the way it progresses. even if Ryoki and Hatsumi did manage to change, i felt it would have been rushed. the story is very plot and character driven, to me hot gimmick is still one of the better examples of shojo manga. most shojo’s I’ve read are too fluffy in my opinion, having little to no realisim in terms of relationships. the lack of character growth is a disappointment, but i’m also slightly relieved that they didn’t grow. like someone else mentioned in another review i read. what hot gimmick is to me as a story, feels more like a little portion of the character’s lives. so if Ryoki and hatsumi do grow, it won’t happen in what we have seen. the whole story’s focus, is finding a concrete boyfriend girlfriend relationship, and conviction to maintain one for decent amount time anyways. the story didn’t really end up with a happily ever after because there is likely a whole lot hell that the main duo has to work through. really i think thats one of the reasons i enjoyed the story, that not everything got solved as soon as you got together with the guy you liked (thats just bull). Now Hatsumi is still on the hopeless side thinking that things are now magically better, but as readers we can see that it’s not. something that i feel that the manga artist conveyed pretty well with Asuza and shinogu. this kind of approach to an ending for a shojo is much better then most of what i’ve seen. it may not have been the most satisfactory, but not all endings are, thats part of life too.

  47. I use the term “character driven” only when the characters demonstrate that they have learned something or changed. None of that happened here. 12 books, and we wind up in exactly the same place. That’s a waste of my time, I feel.

    Not to mention that Hatsumi winding up with an abusive boyfriend who’s willing to date-rape her is an AWFUL conclusion and not something to be celebrated for any reason.

  48. hey! Ryoki never wanted to rape her. Azusa did.

  49. I think that comment sums up why I came to loathe this series. :)

  50. I would liked it better if she stood up for herself and ended by herself happy or flipped out on Ryoki and he would change watever…
    To me it jus shows thats its ok to be needy and weak and its ok to have a boyfriend that slaps you in public
    ~another thing the fact that he knew about the Azusa’s mom situation but didn’t say anything til she found that picture wat the hell,”yea thanks for hiding that secret from me even tho you knew that i was worried bout this and it was hurting my family to the point where i almost got gang raped oh don’t worry i still love you” just ridiculous

Leave a Reply

Comments are closed.