by Ao Mimori; adapted by Kelly Sue DeConnick
published by Viz; $8.99 US
Ryoko is your typical shy manga high school girl. She falls in love with the glasses-wearing boy, Ryunosuke, who sits next to her in class. Then she finds out his night job is as a host, or a paid “date”.
Leaving aside whether this form of legal prostitution is really as common in Japan as it appears to be in manga, one would assume that anyone working that job would have a certain amount of experience with the opposite sex, right? Not Ryoko. After being kidnapped by one of Ryunosuke’s prior clients, who’s so obsessed with him that she’ll doing anything to see him again, Ryoko is stunned to find out that Ryunosuke is not a virgin and in fact has slept with a lot of women.
I know plenty of people have trouble dealing with the details of their partner’s past, but Ryoko is near-idiotic about it. She’s still caught up in having her first ever kiss with him, much like a stereotypical romance heroine, only to freak out over Ryunosuke’s thousands of partners. What did she think his job meant? (After this painful lesson, she then goes on to repeat the error later on, showing she’s also weak in the memory department.)
Then there’s the idea of the kidnapping. She’s stupid enough to get in a car with a sketchy-looking stranger. The kidnapper then promptly gives up once Ryunosuke shows up and agrees to one last kiss. No one seems to consider that this behavior is illegal. All that matters to the author is how Ryoko feels about the kiss.
Once back in school, she dumps him and then gets surprised when he says ok, I’m done fighting for you. At this point, it’s halfway through the book. There’s still to come the reunion, harassment by street punks, and blackmail by Ryunosuke’s boss when the boy (who’s apparently incredibly good at his job) tries to quit hosting. It’s all completely ludicrous, but sadly, it’s not over-the-top enough to be enjoyable for that reason. The book is a tease, promising scandalous events, but presenting them in a safe, flat way. The characters aren’t very attractive, either, and the poses and panels pedestrian.
(A complimentary copy for this review was provided by the publisher.)