by Katsu Aki; adapted by Martha Cornog and Timothy Perper
published by Tokyopop; $19.99 US
Review by Ed Sizemore
When we last left the Onodas, Makoto was struggling with premature ejaculation and Yura was still waiting for her first orgasm. By the end of this volume, they both still have the same problems. They each have learned new pleasuring techniques, but they don’t seem to be addressing their fundamental sexual dysfunctions (actually Makoto’s dysfunction).
The support cast isn’t making much progress either. Yura’s younger sister, Rika, and her boyfriend aren’t very good at being a monogamous couple. Makoto’s older brother, Akira, still enjoys shouting out sex advice in crowded places. The only real plot developments in this volume are Makoto’s younger sister, Jun, preparing for her first sexual experience and the introduction of a new cast member. Kyouko Oomiya, Makoto’s female cousin and a gynecologist, moves in next door to the newlyweds.
There hasn’t been any change in character design or art style. The supplemental illustrations done in the style of medical cross-section diagrams were used in the first volume, but they are much more prevalent in this volume. Previously, these inserts were used to illustrate either sexual technique or anatomy. Now, they are used as a way to show penetration without violating Japanese censorship laws. Only about 10% of the supplements actually function in an educational way.
The most annoying part of the story is Makoto’s failure to address his premature ejaculation problem. On at least two occasions, he confesses this is his main sexual worry. Yet he doesn’t take any active steps to correct the situation. He seems to think that wishing and hoping will make it all better. At first I was angry at the author for not tackling this problem, but then I realized that this behavior is in keeping with Makoto’s character. Makoto is still very immature psychologically. He’s self-centered when it comes to sex, and once he is aroused, all he can think about is his own fulfillment.
Yura both frustrates and amazes me. She is the most patient woman on the planet. She never calls Makoto to task for not trying to improve his stamina. More amazingly, she hasn’t gotten upset over not having an orgasm! Makoto always climaxes, sometimes several times in a given night, while she seems to get close a couple times but never gets to the finish line. When Makoto is done, they stop and either end for the night or wait until he is ready again. She could give lessons to Mother Teresa and Job on perseverance. I wish she would step up and make Makoto face his selfishness.
My main concern/complaint is that the series is becoming less a sex education manual and more a manga about male fantasies of sex and marriage. The first volume of the series definitely had a male slant to the presentation, but I felt the bias was slight enough for females to still enjoy the book and find it useful. However, two changes in this volume made the male bias very blatant and may have so changed the voice of the series that I worry if female readers will find the manga worth reading.
The first problem is the continuing characterization of Yura. She is presented as the ideal housewife and lover. Yura is willing to embrace any new form of sexuality without question or reservation. This is most apparent in the chapter on fellatio. I would expect her to have some hesitancy in wanting to perform oral sex. After all, this is the same woman who in the first book was very uncomfortable being nude in front of her husband and felt that her being on top was slightly perverted. In this volume, she embraces the idea of fellatio without batting an eye. I would assume that she should have an initial yuck response to the idea of having a penis in her mouth and certainty to swallowing. When she finally does perform fellatio for the first time, she is able to deep throat Makoto without any gag response bothering her. It’s hard to believe she is such an accomplished beginner. She is becoming less a real woman and more a male fantasy.
The second problem in this book is the loss of a objective narrator’s voice. In the first volume of the series, the narrator and the author maintained separate voices. However, now the narrator is the author and any pretense of disinterest is lost. What is most disturbing about this development is the author’s obvious ‘excitement’ about Yura and her physical attributes. Several times we are told that she is the most beautiful and desirable woman in the series. The author even goes so far as to tell us she has the perfect vagina. The loss of a narrator’s voice makes this volume read as a book written by a men and for men. I miss the old health film narrator and his sense of humor. I would prefer the author, and his opinions, had stayed hidden.
This volume still has educational value. There’s a chapter discussing different shapes of the vagina. Makoto has his first bout of impotence. Makoto also learns how to pleasure Yura with his fingers. Yura learns how to perform fellatio. Admittedly, the chapter on fellatio needs a good dose of realism. The author makes it sounds like a couple of practice sessions with a banana is all a woman needs to master oral sex. Yura also learns how to help a man overcome impotence and regain his sexual confidence.
This volume has the same extras as the first volume. The book comes in a nice slip case. There is a recipe card for chilled asparagus and ginger soup. In the back of the book, Ian Kerner (aka Dr. Manga Sutra) discusses impotency, fellatio, and how to have sex when you have company staying over. There are also updated and Americanized statics in the back.
Overall, I did enjoy volume two. Ironically, I thought this book did a better job at presenting the Onodas as a believable couple than the first volume. The Christmas and impotence chapters did a lot to add depth to their relationship. However, I can’t fully recommend this volume because of my stated concerns. In honesty, if volume three continues to develop the male fantasy trajectory, then I will drop the series from my reading list.