By Watari Sakou. Released in Japan by Kodansha, serialized in the magazine Dessert. Released in North America digitally by Kodansha Comics. Translated by Rose Padgett.
Of of the more encyclopedia manga reference sites out there, Baka-Updates, has its listings of manga divided into tags, and I’ve frequently found myself looking at the work of a specific author or genre and wondering which tags were commonly used. In addition to the obvious ‘shonen’, ‘shoujo’, etc, there are things like ‘love triangle’, ‘strong female lead’, etc. And a lot of the shoujo titles tend to have the word ‘smut’ attached to them. These are the shoujo titles that run in order-skewing magazines like Sho-Comi or Dessert where the relationship expands to include sex fairly rapidly, and includes it often. A few years back you’d never have seen these sorts of titles over here, but now we have a certain number of them, mostly from Viz; Ai Ore, Butterflies Flowers, and the like. That said, while I have seen young women surrendering to passion, driven by their desires, and having a grand old time in these books, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a heroine quite as horny as Rika in Cosplay Animal.
Rika is a college girl with a fetish for costumes, particularly school uniforms – and I mean fetish, we hear over and over again about how much it turns her on. One day she posts to a hookup site and starts talking with a high school boy who’s having relationship issues, and as they talk she texts a picture of her in her old school uniform. She decides to go see him, and finds that not only is he super hot, he also works as a waiter – another uniform! Of course, at first he thinks she’s a high school girl. Then, when he finds out the truth, he finds her fetish a bit lame. But eventually they work things out, and now Rika is dating a guy who will not only agree to have sex with her in a uniform, but can give her multiple orgasms. The end! Only, of course, not the end.
This volume has only Cosplay Animal’s first-chapter, which is clearly a one-shot, and its one-chapter sequel, also clearly meant to be a one-shot. Something about the series made the editors reward it with a longer run, and I’m pretty sure it’s Rika, who is simply straight up ridiculous. The series verges on being completely horrible but it isn’t quite, and what makes it compulsively readable is that Rika really is that over the top – if she were a more realistic, emotionally fragile young shoujo heroine this would be tasteless. As it is you can’t even get offended because of the silliness. That said, the manga cannot sustain this pace forever, and I can’t help but notice that it ran for 14 volumes. Something is going to have to give to fill up that space. I hope the character development is just as whacked out as the start was.
There are also three unrelated short stories at the end of this, which in fact take up more room in the volume than the main series. Cockblocked! is memorable mostly for the title, and features a girl trying to have sex with her older tutor but having difficulties due to a past family trauma. Servants of the Flesh deals with two young people in different schools, one male, one female, who have the same reaction to being called ignorant virgins a while back – to learn EVERYTHING IT IS POSSIBLE TO KNOW ABOUT SEX. Of course, they are still virgins. Sparks fly when they meet each other trying to help a friend at each of their respective schools, and end up being super hot once they both take their giant nerd glasses off. Again, it’s the sheer ludicrousness that makes the short work, though it gets buried in sex info because of the leads. The Touch of an Angel, the Kiss of a Devil is the most ‘normal’ story in the book, and therefore the dullest. I wonder if it was the author’s first, it seems so generic.
Cosplay Animal is a fun manga to read, but be warned: do not have any expectations of it being anything other than pervy shoujo froth. If that’s what you’re looking for, Rika is here for you.