Welcome to the second monthly edition of Fanservice Friday!
Today’s column is actually collaborative in a sense, and not hosted here in its entirety. Just yesterday, I appeared as a guest on the Manga Out Loud podcast, hosted by Ed Sizemore (Manga Worth Reading), where we discussed the manga series, Sundome, written by Kazuto Okada, and published in English by Yen Press.
The series mainly follows two Japanese teenagers, Hideo and Kurumi, who develop between them something very close to a classic dominant/submissive relationship (Hideo as the submissive party and Kurumi as the dom), presented in a fairly dark context of obsession and deep emotional damage (though not without some surprisingly warm moments).
For in-depth discussion of the series, please check out the podcast, though given the purpose of this column, I will take a moment to specifically mention the series’ dense volume of fanservice. There is so much of it in this series, in fact, I’m not entirely sure it can be properly categorized as “fanservice” which perhaps indicates something extraneous to the story. In the case of Sundome, “extraneous” could not be a less accurate description.
The entire series is steeped in erotic imagery, some of which could be characterized as quite crude, but with such a strong emotional core, it’s difficult to think of it as obscene, even in its most explicit moments. That the characters are high school students only makes the level of eroticism more disturbing, yet again, it’s so appropriate to the narrative and especially to Hideo’s point of view, it’s difficult to imagine the story working well without it. Eroticism is so much a part of the fabric of the story, anything less might just seem unbelievably coy.
One particular type of imagery, however, is used more prominently here than in any other manga I’ve personally encountered (which, in terms of this type of manga, is admittedly not all that much). That would be the constant presence of the cameltoe. Shots down the shirt or up the skirt are incredibly common, even in pretty mainstream shounen and seinen manga, but Okada’s obsession with the cameltoe is something new for me.
Now, obviously I’m not necessarily the most appropriate judge in terms of appeal, but not only do I have difficulty finding this attractive, it mostly looks… kinda painful. Ouch.
As I mentioned in the podcast, given the sexual themes in the manga, I actually find the rather stunning wealth of male-oriented fanservice in Sundome mainly inoffensive, as it seems so integral to the series’ tone and plot. I find it quite a bit less offensive, in fact, than random, less explicit panty-shots tossed into standard fantasy or adventure manga.
What say you, readers?
Be sure to download this week’s Manga Out Loud podcast, and let us know what you think!