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Hot Gimmick vol. 2 (VIZBIG Edition) by Miki Aihara (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

September 11, 2009 by  



“This is not your usual teenage love triangle, it’s much more!  The second volume of ‘Hot Gimmick’ features more dysfunctional storylines but also a storyline that just captivates you.  You want to know where these characters are going to go and if they can survive their own personal drama.  Well-written, cool artwork with a storyline that is highly addictive, ‘Hot Gimmick’ Vol. 2 is highly recommended!”

(C) Image courtesy of Miki AIHARA.  Shogakukan, Inc.   All Rights Reserved.

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MANGA TITLE: Hot Gimmick Vol. 2

STORY AND ART BY: Miki Aihara (相原実貴)

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Shogakukan, Inc.

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC

RATED: T for Older Teen

He loves me, he loves me not.  I love him, I love him not.  He hates me, but he wants to be my boyfriend.  I hate him, but I want to be his girlfriend.

Manga artist Miki Aihara is definitely on the forefront of manga writers who are able to warp Japanese pop culture and capturing that modern life of today’s youth with a twist.  She has done it successfully with a manga series like “Honey Hunt” (currently available from VIZ Media) and now with her release of “Hot Gimmick” via the VIZBIG Edition.

Suffice to say, I’m a big fan of Aihara’s artwork and written work and for shojou manga, she has done a great job in capturing relationships and taking the reader through ups and downs.  As for “Hot Gimmick”, this is a series that features dysfunctional relationships but yet making it entertaining and fun and capturing family, reputation, complex love triangles, friendships and betrayal.

The first volume serves as the introduction of the characters and the living situation of the characters who who live in company housing and revolving around several key families and focuses on a teenage high school girl named Hatsumi Narita.  The first volume was quite dark as Hatsumi is a teenager who lives in employee housing and of course, with employee housing, it’s a privilege and thus employees who are in a lower level must make sure they listen to the rules laid down typically by the wife of a higher corporate standing.

Needless to say, when her promiscuous younger sister thinks she is pregnant, the son (Ryoki) of the person who calls the shots at the housing complex sees Hatsumi buying a pregnancy test.  Because this can easily destroy her family’s reputation at the housing complex, she becomes the slave to Ryoki.  A boy that Hatsumi has despised as a child since he was mean to her.  Meanwhile, Azusa – a childhood friend that moved back and happens to be a popular model befriends Azusa and tries to protect her from Ryoki.

But things are not as it seems in “Hot Gimmick” as Ryoki starts to develop interest in Hatsumi and Azusa is just using Hatsumi for revenge.  Needless to say, terrible things happen to Hatsumi in the first volume but now in this second volume, she tries to make sense of everything and her relationship with family and the guys in her life.

Also, the Narita family finds themselves in a predicament when the wives of the housing complex think Hatsumi’s up to something promiscuous.  Also,  a big revelation is revealed when it comes to Hatsumi’s older brother Shinogu and Azusa finally comes face-to-face with Hatsumi’s father and Ryoki wants to further his friendship with Hatsumi.

NARITA FAMILY:

Hatsumi: A bubbly second year student at Takazono High School.  She doesn’t do well in school, gullible but has a wonderful heart but she’s quite insecure.  She feels her younger sister Akane is the attractive one and because of these insecurities, Hatsumi tends to put herself down quite a bit and feels that she is weak and unable to vocalize her emotions.  She volunteered to be Ryoki’s slave in order to keep him quiet about her sister’s pregnancy test.  Meanwhile, she has developed a close relationship with the model (and old childhood friend) Azusa.  But Azusa turns out to be a jerk who used her for revenge and nearly had her gang-raped.

Akane: A pretty and popular junior high teenager that gets around with guys.  Unfortunately because of her sexual promiscuity, she gets Hatsumi in a bit of trouble.  Now she has the eyes for a guy, a long-time friend who doesn’t show much interest in her.

Shinogu: The oldest son and a college freshman who works many jobs.  Hatsumi adores her older brother.  But he has a secret which is revealed in volume 2.

Hikaru: Hatsumi’s younger brother and is kindergarten.

Shihoko: Hatsumi’s mother who is afraid of the company housing complex queen Mrs. Tachibana and does what she can to make her happy.  Always afraid of how her children will affect their status at the complex.

Toru: Hatsumi’s father who is often gone on business trips.  Did something bad in his past.

TACHIBANA FAMILY:

Ryoki: Emotionless, cold-hearted and very intelligent.  He used to despite Hatsumi but since he’s never had a girlfriend, he can’t understand the emotions he is feeling for Hatsumi… could it be love?

Natsue: Ryoki’s mother and The “Queen” of the housing complex.  She knows she has power in the complex and uses it to her advantage to make everyone feel powerless.

Shuichiro: Always busy with work and never home.

ODAGIRI FAMILY:

Azusa: Childhood friend of Hatsumi, now a supermodel that used Hatsumi to get close to her in order to exact revenge on her father and family for what happened to his mother.

Minoru: Azusa’s father.  Works overseas and always busy and good friends with Hatsumi’s father but doesn’t know that Mr. Narita was the cause of his divorce.

Miho: Azusa’s deceased mother who Minoru divorced but it is revealed in the second volume of how she died.

The first volume definitely was surprising for it’s dark themes that simply, I was not expecting. It’s one thing to see dysfunctional relationships, but the first volume of “Hot Gimmick” took things up a notch and you could only feel bad for Hatsumi and the things that happen to her.

Fortunately, for the second volume, things are not as dark but still the Narita family continues to have dark days in store for them.

For one, the Narita family incurs Mrs. Tachibana’s wraith after Hatsumi was seen with Azusa one night and that started plenty of gossip around the housing complex and we get to see how far Mrs. Tachibana would go in making sure a family is not felt welcomed at the housing complex.

The second part was the reveal of Shinogu and his secret that the family has kept away from the children.  But things get more complicated when you see the kind of emotions that Shinogu had bottled up.  On the outside, he may be dedicated to his school work and trying to survive by working all these odd jobs but his secret will definitely be interesting in possibly the next volume of “Hot Gimmick”.

Also, the second volume focuses more on Ryoki and Hatsumi.  Do they have the chance?  Or is their nothing between these two?  And as a reader, it’s hard to support a relationship between these two, especially since volume 1, he has only been a jerk in the way he has treated her.

As for Azusa, he is driven to hurt the Narita family but does Hatsumi hate him for all he’s done to her or does she actually feel bad for him?

These are only a few of the confusing and complex storylines that you can expect from this second volume of “Hot Gimmick”.  Aihara has done a good job in laying the story out and making it so appealing to the reader and you can’t help but be captivated by these characters despite how dysfunctional things may be.

I’m really enjoying this series and for those who have been curious about Miki Aihara’s work, “Hot Gimmick” is definitely a different, fresh and also unique manga worth recommending!

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