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Enmusu Volume One
posted July 4, 2005
ADV Manga, 208 pages, $9.99, November 2004.
This is a truly amazing comic in a very specific way, or maybe it just seems special because I'm culturally stunted and not exposed to an entire world of comics like this one. It sounds pretty ordinary when described. High school loser Gisuke Arikawa receives a charm as part of a sort of lottery system to winnow out candidates for a position of riches and power (there are 14 such charms in all). Similar to many long-running serials, one expects Arikawa to therefore enter into a sustained, natural competition and occasional conflict with the other amulet holders, who consider him as a kind of puzzling, goofball candidate. As expected, it's Arikawa's overlooked and underappreciated personality traits -- his ability to be loyal and believe in people -- that seem to hold the key to his having any chance to keep his charm or add others to his holdings.
That's all standard material to anyone with even a smidgeon of familiarity with manga and anime, and the execution here in terms of art and dialogue is so average it could be used as template. The only thing that feels different is that Enmusu
has this very overt sexual element that is threaded throughout the proceedings that mirrors the emotional through-line of the rest of the plot. In addition to the charm, Arikawa gets a dopey, sweet and very beautiful maid named Sofia, who wants to do things like, you know, take a bath with him. In addition, since there can't really be a pay-off with an element that overtly sexual in a story like this one, the cartoonist continues to load on the tease. And so, the girl after whom Arikawa lusts at school also shows up in his house and in his bath. This is due to a twist on the contest where another charm holder humiliates her via being better at schoolwork to the point she allows herself to be leashed like a dog. That's not exactly a natural extension of high school sexuality -- if it were, winning the state championship in debate would have been a lot more rewarding, that's for sure -- as it is a play on teenaged emotional issues tugged into the area of sex.
I have no idea who is supposed to be reading this.