Tuesday, July 7, 2009
I just finished reading the manga series Hot Gimmick by Miki Aihara.
I had started reading it in sophomore year of high school, but finished it only now (scanslations ftw). When I stopped reading before I thought I was getting tired of it, like I thought the plot wasn't going anywhere, and now that I've finished it... well, I've written my spoiler-filled thoughts below, so feel free to jump under the cut to read them!
I only half-way enjoyed reading Hot Gimmick, and for several reasons I will now outline:
Okay, first of all, the art is very good.
I enjoyed the simplistic style that's unique to it, instead of a lot of manga styles that are so glaringly annoying with the massive and shiney eyes and the too-pointy noses and chins and the too-noisy chibi moments. I felt Hot Gimmick was a little more watered down than that, and I really enjoyed that.
Some elements of the plot were very good too.
My favorite was how the history of the parents in the company tied into and directly effected the lives of their children, namely the instance of Ryoki's father having an affair with Azusa's mother, and then using Hatsumi's dad as a cover-up. It really reflects the way Ryoki exercised control over Hatsumi, and how Ryoki's mother lorded over everybody in the complex. The Tachibanas are a controlling family, and the characterization was very well done.
Moreover, Ryoki's father explained to Azusa that his mother always chose her family, meaning her real husband and Azusa, over him (Ryoki's father). This reflects how Hatsumi chooses her own family over Ryoki several times throughout the story.
I did say I had mixed feelings about this series, and most of it had to do with character development. In a good story, I expect to be moved through their tale and I expect the characters to end up somehow changed at the end. Now, some of the characters did change, like Shinogu becoming a priest and the Tachibanas divorcing and moving away... but I'm rather upset about the main characters, Ryoki and Hatsumi.
Throughout the series Hatsumi has been pursued by three men, the most insufferable of which is Ryoki Tachibana. He constantly bullies and orders her around, making her his "slave" no matter what other label he gives her and he does not understand her feelings, wants, or needs whatsoever. And yet Hatsumi just takes it! She is submissive several times, and though she has her moments, she always goes back to him. And not once does Ryoki show any gratefulness, he continues to call her a stupid idiotic woman who is blind for not realizing her feelings for him.
It's like a domestic case of Stockholm Syndrome.
This is where I get to unleash just how I feel about all the bad stuff!
I suppose I like strong, independent female characters more, because Hatsumi seems anything but. She shuffles between Ryoki, Shinogu and Azusa and in the end ends up with the worst of the bunch: Ryoki. I suppose it can't be helped, she's supposed to be 16 in the manga, and she's allowed to be foolish, but it's pretty damn ridiculous. How many impressionable young minds will read this and think that that behavior is okay?
At the very end, one of the last things Ryoki says to Hatsumi (who is his fiancée by the end of the series) is "That's an order!" He's been saying that since he made her his slave at the beginning, and to think that he still says it now and she takes it? That's sickening! It's like how Sandra changed herself just for Danny Zuko's sake at the end of Grease! It's like how Bella can do nothing if she's not depending on Edward in Twilight!
What else just made me want to throw up was the possibility of Shinogu and Hatsumi getting together, which was dangerously close near the end. And their mother even said she would allow, CONDONE it even! I understand that Hatsumi and Shinogu are not blood-related, but would you be able to date someone who you've seen as your literal brother your entire life? That's just sick. Ryoki says it all the time in the manga, and that's one thing he and I can agree on.
So yea, the book is rather twisted, and I didn't get the ended I would've liked, boo-hoo. Who knows, maybe Hatsumi is just used to being submissive and it works out and that Ryoki's horribleness is just his way of saying "I love you."
You'll never see me taking that kind of shit from any guy.
All in all, it was okay.
I will still love the art style forever because it's so pretty.
Also, if I were to write the ending, I would all have them go separate ways.
I would have Ryoki realize that, in criticizing his mother's overbearing dominance, he is being hypocritical because that's how he is to Hatsumi. I'd have him be humbled and at least be nice beter he ever got back with her. But really, the perfect ending would be if Hatsumi didn't end up with anybody, and she just went on to grow up and become self-sufficient.
But that's just me ;)