By Megumi Nishizaki and Original Concept by Miki Aihara
Released in the US by Viz Shojo Beat
Slugline: Thanks to this book, I will now avoid other Hot Gimmick titles.
This is an alternative ending to the Hot Gimmick story, in which Hatsumi chooses to have a relationship, of a kind, with her adopted brother Shinogu rather than Ryoki. The story diverges after Ryoki decides to the leave their apartment complex so that in this version Hatsumi does not meet him in Ryoki's hidden spot at the top of the stairs and so instead is drawn to Shinogu.
The slugline perfectly captures my feeling about this series. The first third of the book is basically a quick condensation of the original series, and while Ryoki may be damaged, and I feel bad for him, but he is also an abusive misanthrope that Hatsumi should have pushed down the stairs. The fact that the implication of the title is that Hatsumi ends up with Ryoki in the original series makes me want to make a long distance call to Japanese Social Services (something I also wanted to do over The Devil Within). Maybe the condensation does not paint a fair picture of Ryoki, but I unless the books fall into my lap, neither am I driven to find out whether or not it is the truth. That is because the condensation of the original series is presented in such a distant, unemotional way that I unengaged with the story. Then there is a flashback to Hatsumi's and Shinogu's mothers about how Shinogu ended up in their house, so by that is finished and the story begins in earnest, almost half of the volume is over. By then it is far too late to care about any of the characters in any but the most superficial of ways. As an intro to the series, it fails to make you care about it, and if you are interested in the series, the first 40 or so pages are just recap.
I understand that they have chosen a difficult path here, but at the same time I think they should realized this needed some more work to be attractive to both fans of the series and new readers. Maybe if you are a major Shinogu fan you can overlook these problems, or a Hot Gimmick completist wanting the 13 new pages of the manga in the back, but otherwise I would say stay away.
Hot Gimmick S is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.