Sundome Book 5

Review by Ed Sizemore

**Warning: Sundome is an adult rated series. This review contains some frank sexual language.**

This volume continues to explore the dysfunctional relationship between Hideo and Kurumi. At the same time, we see Kyouko and Katsu continue fumbling toward becoming a couple themselves.

Sundome Book 5 cover
Sundome Book 5
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The best word to describe this book is tenderness. Mind you, this is Sundome we’re taking about, so it’s tenderness relative to the prior volumes. However, this book marked a significant shift in tone for the series.

Absent from this volume is Kurumi asking Hideo to perform some crazy stunt or pass some test of obedience. Instead, we see them interact as normally as a couple can in this series. In the opening chapter, Hideo gets sick with a severe cold, and Kurumi shows up at his house to nurse him. Later, Hideo goes over to Kurumi’s apartment to help her change light bulbs. They actually have conversations about their relationship, and Kurumi hints that she may have feelings for Hideo.

What fascinates me in this volume is Kurumi’s openness. She reveals a couple of facts about her family and her past. She initiates kissing and scenes of intimacy. She actually even masturbates in front of Hideo. Kurumi is beginning to reciprocate Hideo’s affection. It appears that he has proven the sincerity of his love and devotion. Kurumi has realized that Hideo isn’t attracted to every girl; he is attracted to her. She is the only one he wants and wants unrestrainedly.

I get a sense that Kurumi’s openness comes from a new-found acceptance of her own body. Throughout the series, Kurumi has struggled with a mysterious illness. She is frail (almost anorexic), prone to nosebleeds, and gets sick often. It would be normal for her to come to despise her body. It has caused her great suffering and at times embarrassment. Hideo doesn’t see frailty or sickness; instead, he thinks that every inch of her flesh is wonderful. Quite literally, every part of her body turns him on.

I can understand why Kurumi is suspicious of Hideo’s desire. She is the new girl, and he knows nothing of her, let alone her physical ailments. How could find ‘this’ body appealing when there are so many other prettier and healthier girls to choose from? And not just attractive, but how can he find ‘this’ body erotic? How can he get so easily turned on by looking at her?

Yet, despite rebuffs and Job-like tests, Hideo’s erotic fervor never waivers. He desires Kurumi despite, and in the face, of everything she puts him through. Hideo’s ardor makes Kurumi rethink her own negative body image. In this volume, she begins to accept that her body is both beautiful and erotic. This self-affirmation tears down her own resistance to Hideo and his love. Now she is ready to express, and explore, her own sexual desires and romantic feelings.

Another joy in this volume is seeing the continued personal growth of Kyouko. At first, Kyouko came to the Roman club to get away from bullying boyfriends. Here, she could be the bully. However, we learn her choice of clubs wasn’t as random as she would have us believe. It turns out that she is actually a devotee of the paranormal and supernatural herself. She is also a video game junkie. These were aspects of her personality she wasn’t permitted to express when she was hanging out with the cool and dangerous kids. Now, she quickly jumps into discussions on the latest TV show exploring UFOs, haunted houses, urban legends, etc. Also, we see her asking for help in getting to the next level on the newest video games. It’s a pleasure to watch her come out of her shell and just be another fangirl.

Also, I get a kick out of watching Kyouko and Katsu awkwardly, and with glacial speed, becoming a couple. They are both attracted to each other, but neither wants to admit it. Katsu is too shy and uncertain for such a confession; Kyouko still isn’t ready to embrace her inner geek that completely. As is standard in most manga, their attraction to each other is obvious, they just have to overcome their personal reservations and fears. I love the scene where Katsu is showing Kyouko how to get to the next level of a game. It’s refreshing and cute to see them bond like that.

This is still Sundome, so fetishes abound. If bodily fluids make you squirm, then this volume won’t be to your liking. There are a wide variety of secretions to be found. There is even some toe-sucking action at the end. As always, this series is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. There are scenes I have to read quickly to make it through.

Okada’s artwork continues to communicate desire effectively. He makes passion tangible. As usual, there is a LOT of fanservice. There is no outright nudity, but plenty of wet shirts, loose shirts, and camel toe to leave little to the imagination. A couple of scenes are definitely softcore.

This volume really caught me off guard. I’m used to be conflicted and twisted up after reading Sundome. However, this time I actually enjoyed myself, without the self-loathing. Those following the series will find this volume a welcome change of pace. As usual, given the disturbing nature of the relationships in this series, I can’t recommend it, even though I continue to read it. You can read my previous reviews to see why.

9 Comments

  1. [...] and Manga Reviews) David Brothers on vol. 1 of Path of the Assassin (4thletter!) Ed Sizemore on vol. 5 of Sundome (Comics Worth Reading) Zaki Zakaria on vol. 1 of Tsubasa: Those With Wings (The Star of Malaysia) [...]

  2. I don’t know a lot about manga. I don’t
    like that all the female characters look
    like they have breast implants and I never
    made an effort to get past that.

    Can you elaborate on the self-loathing
    you felt after reading the previous volumes? I saw someone else allude to
    that on a different forum.

  3. Ed Sizemore

    Mitch,

    I have to recommend you read my previous reviews. They will explain in detail my self-loathing over this series. In the comments, other will express similar feelings.

  4. I have a question: Why do you think Kurumi started this relationship? It’s obvious why Hideo started it, and it’s obvious that she has, over the course of the story so far, changed both how she looks at him and how she looks at herself. But what was her initial reason for jumping in? Did she just latch on to him and start to play with him in some sort of nihilistic funk where he was just unlucky to be in the way and having feelings for her that she was willing to exploit? Was there really a similar attraction towards him (that seems unlikely)? Did she just instinctively grasp how pathetic he was and truly want to make him a better person?

    I think your comments on her own body image are dead on, and I appreciate you pointing it out. I think I spent so much time focusing on Hideo’s problems and thoughts and feelings that she wasn’t so much a real character as she was a 1dimensional foil in my mind, someone only there to really contrast with the main character to further develop him. But you nailed it, it’s easy to see now. It’s nice to see her change, it’s nice to see her begin to open up more and really see him in a different light.

    I really hate this manga. I hate that I am so addicted to it and intrigued by it and I really, honestly want to find out more of the story. That’s certainly not how I WANT to feel, at least about something like this which has so many screwed up things in it. I want to just dismiss it as…well, smut. But it has me thoroughly and completely hooked at this point. I can’t imagine actually getting someone I know to read it without WAY too much explanation beforehand. Just handing it to someone seems like a way to get people to look at you strangely in the future.

  5. Caleb,

    At the series beginning, Kurumi doesn’t want to make any significant friendships. She joined the least popular club when she was being sought out by all the other clubs. She chose the Roman Club & Hideo because she felt they were people she could control and keep at arms length. She could manipulate Hideo’s fascination with her so that he never learned anything about her and she would never have affections for him. I think she also believed that he would tired of her control and then leave her alone. As we see none of her hopes or assumptions are correct.

  6. Well, that does make sense, but wouldn’t it be even easier to just not start with either of them? Actually, I am not sure if joining a club is mandatory or not, and if so, I guess that makes sense there. But instead of starting a twisted relationship and keeping hideo at arms length, isn’t it easier to just rebuff his advances and keep him at arms length?

    It just seems that inaction is a lot easier than limited action.

    Maybe it WAS a sort of cry for help? A subconscious desire to have someone like her, even if consciously she “knew” he never could?

  7. Caleb,

    A club isn’t mandatory, but I think it’s easier to join one than to keep explaining why you’re not in one or having to turn down offers to join. Remember in Japan you are expected to be part of the social network. So a high school student living on her own and not involved in any aspect of the school social culture would be under intense scrutiny. Best to join the least popular group of people to avoid as much contact as possible. Plus, if you can manipulate the group to keep them from getting any information about you, then that’s even better.

  8. [...] Book 5 [...]

  9. [...] and Hideo’s relationship go, volumes 6 and 7 offer more of the same from the first five volumes. What is captivating in these two volumes is watching the relationship between Katsun and Kyouko [...]

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