By Tsukigase Yurino. Released in Japan by ASCII Mediaworks, serialized in the magazine Sylph. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Angela Liu, Adapted by Rebecca Scoble.
It can be very hard to separate what a person wants as a fan of a genre, or title, and what makes for a good product and good business sense in the real world. Things that make perfect sense talking about them on twitter or in forums suddenly become impossible to navigate as there are sixty extra steps that have to be done first because you’re the ones creating the content. And this only gets compounded when the content is being created by a group. And that’s the concept of Otome Mania!!, a short manga series about a young woman who loves otome games and has finally achieved her dream job of working for a company that creates and makes them, only to find that she has a long way to go before her dreams can come true. And, appropriately, she’s also involved in her own real life otome harem romance (not that she realizes this, of course.)
Yuzumi, as you can imagine, is a very typical otome romance heroine. She’s not very intuitive and has tr4ouble reading the room, and can’t catch up to the high level of speed and decisiveness her colleagues have. Plus she’s learning from the ground up, and thus can’t understand why a 13-page written treatment is something that’s going to be rejected without even looking at it, as opposed to a snappy 2 page treatment with art and character designs. But she has spunk and a tendency not to give up, like every single shoujo manga heroine ever, and that’s good enough. Her colleagues include the stern immediate supervisor who yells at her and puts her down constantly, but may have her best interests at heart after all; the foreign graphic artist who is cheery enough to help Yuzumi out when no one else will; and the reserved and nervous scenario artist looking for a chance to prove himself, who has a hidden core of hotness that comes out at the best times.
The gimmick of this title is that it’s an otome manga about making otome games, and it’s done rather well. It’s not above lampshading its own flaws – there’s a larger cast of guys than there is time for, so we don’t see a few of them for more than a few pages this time – just as in the game Yuzumi is developing, where romantic leads 4-6 are ‘secret content to be added later’. There’s also a little hint of backstory as well, as there’s a much more popular and successful company – also run by hot guys – that seems to have a past with Tachibana, the constantly irritated male lead. It wraps up in two volumes, so I’m not sure how much it’s going to be able to fit into the remaining time, or even if Yuzumi herself will end up with a guy (if she does, my money’s on Tachibana). For for readers who enjoy light romantic titles with a lot of cute guys and a decent reader stand-in, Otome Mania!! gives you what you need.