Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Suzuka, v. 1

By Kouji Seo
Published in the U.S. by Del Rey Manga

Slugline: What a surprise that another high school guy works in female-only bath. Is there a law or something about that? Caution: Mature Content

Del Rey seems to be putting out a lot of titles that are heavy in fan service. Not sure if that is a deliberate choice on their part or a coincidence due to their contacts in Japan, but they seem to be one of the few companies that are unworried about having their titles shrinkwrapped in the stores. Pastel, a series that I am enjoying despite my better instincts, is from Del Rey, and they continue this trend in Suzuka.

Of the two, I am enjoying Suzuka more. Let's get the setup out of the way; country boy goes to Tokyo to live with his aunt while going to high school, an aunt who runs a female-only apartment building with a spa/bath attached. So he is the only guy in a building full of single women. There's a girl the same age as him in the building, so it is almost a given that they will fall for each other. But they are actually attempting to forge a relationship, rather than just having them both like each other and not revealing it because of a series of unbelievable coincidences. Both characters are right now in that stage of quasi-friendship, with a bit of hormones thrown in, but that is something that is understandable and believable.

So I like it. Sure, it is set in a hothouse, and there is some partial nudity in it, but not all nudity means X-rated (so far), and not all stories in manga set in bathhouses have to stretch reality. Maybe just credulity.

- Ferdinand

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