Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Shinshoku Kiss, vol. 1

Created by Kazuko Higashiyama
Released in the US by TokyoPop

Slugline: Why is it that the dolls she makes seem to have more spine than the female protagonist?

Kotoko is in high school but she has already decided to make dolls for a living. In that pursuit, she has been inspired by the works of the reclusive doll maker Fool. But when she submits her work to a contest in which Fool is a judge, she attract his interest in the worse way. Fool has his brother (who I somehow doubt is his real brother) lure Kotoko to his home/workshop and curses her to a rather rapid death by aging her internal organs so that she sprays out blood from her mouth. That is how I always want to go through at a job interview. Fool lifts the curse in exchange for her becoming his apprentice (something that I suspect that Kotoko would have be happy to do anyways pre-blood spewing) and then tells her she has to kiss the human models for the dolls in order to capture their essence and mood, so that they can place those feelings into the doll. So in addition to being needlessly cruel, he is also an emotional vampire and grants that same ability into Kotoko.

So of course Kotoko promptly forgets the fact that Fool caused her to upchuck blood and turned her hair white and treats it as if something that was merely annoying. If she laughs this off and quickly forgives him, I hate to see what hazing is really like in Japanese high schools. The fact is, Fool for all of his supposed ability, merely captures someone essence via mystical means and puts it into a doll. We don't see him do any work, so we have no idea whether or not he has any real skill or does he rely completely on his hocus-pocus . So the reason he does not make mass market versions of his doll is that he can't replicate the process on a mass scale, not any particular desire to keep quality high. The art is nice and open, and Higashiyama is credited as a co-creator of the series tactics as an incentive for fans of that work to check this out, but I hope that all he contributes to that series is the art, for the writing and the character's motivations here is scattered all over the place and doesn't hold together.

Shinshoku Kiss, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.


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