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Sundome Vol. 1
Distributor Yen Press
Author/Artist Kazuto Okada
Regardless of the industry you’re in, sex sells. It’s a fact of life. You could be selling toilet water in bottles, but stick a half-naked person on the front of it and you’ll see people pick it up regardless of what it is. Sundome will no doubt pick up people by having its lead female character on the front, clothes falling off, hands down her skirt and wrapped up unable to view the actual manga. So while sex sells, can it sell anything good?
Sundome follows Hideo Aiba as he goes through his life at school. While he is interested in girls, no one in his class “does it” for him. That is until Kurumi Sahana transfers into his class and he immediately forms an attraction to her. As with most male leads, Aiba is useless when it comes to girls and does his best to impress Sahana. The problem is, the girl has no morals and is more than willing to exploit Aiba for her own amusement.
Sundome, at least for the opening volume, breaks down like this; Aiba tries to impress Sahana, it winds up with him doing something stupid (usually with Sahana’s backing) and by the end of the chapter a sexual perversion is explored. If I could rename this into another English title it would be “The Perverts Guide on How Not to Interact with People”. (Well, the Japanese title does translate into something about ejaculation - Ed.) To say the book bows to the lowest common denominator would be an insult to denominators everywhere. If you like your sexual fetishes then this has them pretty much wall to wall.
Let’s cross-examine the characters of Sundome and see what we have. First up is the lead and narrator of the manga Aiba - A pretty standard male high school lead, but seemingly willing to go to stupid lengths just to see a bit of skin. When it comes to something like that, he’ll do anything and I suppose this is where the “comedy” comes from as he tries to get out of situations that he shouldn’t be in if he had a little common sense. Then there is Sahana, the female lead and focus of Aiba’s frustration (and I do mean frustration) - She is portrayed as a girl who has no inhibitions of any sort and quickly sees Aiba’s attraction to her and begins to put a lease on the boy. In fact that is the entire manga - A girls dominance over a guy by dangling the carrot of sex in front of his unbelievably weak-willed face. It becomes depressing to read as the guy is clearly a masochist and is actually getting off on being ordered around. While some might enjoy that, I find it incredibly infuriating to read.
The artwork itself isn’t too bad, although it does seem to exaggerate certain aspects of the body, and I’m not just talking about overly large breasts. This can make things seem very mis-shapen and a little inhuman, especially in Sahana's case. The other aspects of the artwork seem to take cues from series like GTO and every other manga that has characters drawn in over the top ways to show how crazy they are acting. Nothing new basically.
Underneath all of this, there are some slight hints of something more. Bringing to the fore questions about why some people follow others, are they only after one thing? It’s also interesting to see the “face” that Sahana puts on during school time before what can only be described as the darkness that appears once she enters the after-school club room. These are things that could be expanded upon, but I wouldn’t hold out much hope for that.
If you enjoy being pulled along by a lease or reading about someone that is a 24/7 tease with maybe, maybe the slightest possibility that you’ll see some boobs, then you may be the 1% of people that would get any fun out of this. If you have some sort of fetish that needs exploring, there are plenty of other sources on the 'net that’ll fulfil that desire. Anyone else will find this manga to be a complete waste of time. There are very few redeeming features to this volume and you can’t help but wonder who would enjoy what is basically being kicked until you fall every few seconds and then told to bark like a dog. If you do enjoy it, then kudos to you and you have my everlasting contempt. Weirdo.
It’s like being kicked in the groin repeatedly. Only even less fun.