Thursday, May 14, 2009

Samurai Harem: Asu no Yoichi, vol. 1

By Yu Minamoto
Published in the US by TokyoPop

Slugline: How modest! Four girls is barely a harem in most manga.

Yoichi is the young samurai in training deep in the mountains of Japan, who is told by his father that it is time to go to the city for the next step in his training. It is then revealed that despite the implications otherwise the story is set in modern Japan, which makes the story 'dangerous country bumpkin in the big city.' Fortunately what distracts him from turning this into a more destructive story is that his father sent him to a dojo run by four sisters. Now one of the sisters is too young (I hope she is considered too young) and one is not really interested in him other than for use as a research tool for her manga, but there is two sisters who unsurprisingly, are secretly attracted to him. For the fan-service needs Yoichi keeps on tripping, falling and bemoaning that gravity is a harsh mistress, forcing him to grab onto the sisters at very inappropriate places and times. But could the two girls on the last page of the volume bring actual danger, or just end up as two more girls for the harem? I suspect that will be an easy prediction for most readers.

People who have deep childhood or family connections seem to run into each other all the time on the street of Tokyo, so it must be a pretty small town, right? Sorry, I was just appreciating the foibles of manga storytelling. Despite several of the characters being highly trained martial artists, they all are very clumsy feeling the need to grab onto various naughty bits as they go down. Of course, none of the characters' subconscious are at all just very, very horny. It would be a lot more honest if the story went with that direction rather than having all of these teenagers' minds being as pure as driven snow, especially the girls. But that is just a general problem in many manga. The two main characters (Yoichi and the oldest sister) are too flawless to be more than two dimensional, but I found the sister who has given up because of the older sister's perfection to be the most interesting. I am glad to see that someone around those characters realizes just how unrealistic they are and has had the perfectly rational response of 'why bother?' because anything they do will simply be done better by someone who doesn't even realize they are crushing their hopes and dreams. But other than that, pretty standard harem comedy, not a lot of fighting, at least not yet, and the characters are rather standard. Pretty to look at it, nice if you like fan service or harem comedies, but not much of interest other than that.

Samurai Harem: Asu no Yoichi, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga


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