by Junya Inoue
published by Yen Press; $11.99 US
I’ve known from the beginning of this series that it was a very guilty pleasure. Heck, I was noting how sexist it was back with book 2. Yet I enjoyed the action and premise, of video gamers forced to kill for real on a deserted island in a live-action version of the game. It was stupid at times, but what did I expect from mindless escapism?
It took me a while, but book 6 finally turned me off. Looking at the covers of books 2-4 (ironically, not this one) shows how much fan service has been a part of this title, but this volume takes it way too far. The challenge at the opening of the book is to recover one of the few dropped cases of supplies. Ryouta and associates face off against another team, two ruthless players. While he and Oda grapple, so do Himiko (the blonde schoolgirl) and another girl.
The lengthy sequence where the two women fight is almost laughable, it’s staged in such exaggerated fashion. Every closeup is on a split-legged crotch, when the artist isn’t showing off their large breasts, accentuated by tank tops or equipment straps between them. (They really do look like balloons taped on, the anatomy is so bad.) Then the two start wrestling each other, which allows Junya Inoue to show panties and legs wrapped around each other. The implication is not subtle.
I have never seen upskirt shots so blatant before in any other manga. It’s almost dementedly praise-worthy, that someone would work so hard to force characters into such positions just to titillate boy readers.
So I’m done. I’m clearly not the audience for this, and I feel dirty for having read it this long. Particularly since, six books and over a year later, we still don’t know enough about why these characters are here or who’s behind their torture. (The publisher provided a review copy.)