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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Hot Gimmick Vol. 12 by Aihara Miki 
23rd-Apr-2008 11:58 pm
Aihara, Miki. Hot Gimmick. Vol. 12. Trans. Pookie Rolf. San Francisco: VIZ Media, 2006.
          Summary: Hatsumi decides that she simply can't bring herself to love Shinogu "that way" and returns to the controlling arms of Ryoki. Shinogu, meanwhile, becomes a monk. This volume also contains a Subaru x Akane side story and standalone short story.
          Comments: Whaddaya know? Hot Gimmick ends how it began: "The Manga of Feminist Shame(tm)"... Or was that The Wallflower I was thinking of? Can't remember. Either way, I'm positively delighted to report to those who, like myself, stopped following the series several years ago back when the volume count was in the high single digits that Hatsumi never does manage to grow a backbone. One can't deny one's emotions, after all, and emotions are irrational. Sure, sweet and gentle big bro Shinogu is probably the correct choice of mate, but Hatsumi just doesn't love him "that way." Which means that she's undoubtedly planning on spending the rest of her life ordered around by the domineering and arbitrary Ryoki. Nice guys lose out; assholes get the girl. Shoujo manga can be truly shameful that way.
          What's most shameful of all, though, is how damn entertaining the series is throughout, right up to the finish line. The characters are visually appealing and memorable--I had no trouble returning to the series despite a long absence. Even the bonus story about a sixteen year old betrothed to a man nearly twice her age was at once compelling and deeply offensive to my feminist sensibilities. Who cares even about graduating from high school when you've got this handsome, rich guy pledging to take care of you? But at least Aihara managed to redeem herself somewhat with a modern-day "The Gift of the Magi"-type story between Akane and Subaru that draws a convincing picture of the Comiket experience. Their relationship is a give-and-take one of equals; the sort of relationship I'd want my children (of both sexes) to read about as their dream come true.
          Notes: paperback, 1st American edition, 3rd printing; first published in Japan by Shougakukan in 2006
          Rating: 5/10 - As you may have guessed, my opinion about this manga (and the series in general) is radically unstable. Which in some ways is the same as ambivalence...but not really. I'll say "5" and leave it at that.
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