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REVIEW: Manga: Sex Education: Manga Sutra by Katsu Aki



Manga Sutra by Katsu Aki. Published by TokyoPop. Retail: $19.99. 1/37+ released in English. Rated M for Mature (graphic sex). Note: Each single English volume contains 2 Japanese volumes.

Dear Readers,

This one is slightly different for me. Some people might just call it hentai (Japanese porn). But while it does contain scenes that qualify, its purpose isn’t just to titillate, but to educate. The author put it this way in his short preface:

This isn’t just a hentai manga. It’s about love, sex, and how-to… I wrote this with the hopes that it would serve as a bible to those who dream of having the best sex ever! And I really mean that.


That’s cute. So to serve that purpose Aki-san gives us Makoto and Yura, virgin newlyweds in an arranged marriage (still fairly common in Japan with businessmen and women who are too busy to date). They’re basically pretty nice people, though not very outgoing (hence their virginity), and they eventually fall in love.

But they don’t have a clue about sex. Not. A. Clue. Sure, they know that Tab A goes in Slot A. But even basics like kissing techniques are beyond them. However, they’re stupid so the reader doesn’t have to be. There’s someone around to explain it every step of the way, like Yura’s very sexually active sister Rika and Makoto’s loud-mouthed jerk of a brother Akira who prides himself on being a stud in bed. (Know-it-all people are always interrupting in this book, something which annoyed me to no end, like perverted Akira showing up to spoil their honeymoon.)

To show you the way things are often explained, here Rika explains the basics of kissing to Makoto after Yura has turned him away because he never turns her on (as usual, please read right to left):

MS-1c<- with diagrams MS-1b MS-1a <- start here

And then he tries it out (with an intermittent page removed):

ms-2b ms-2a <- start here

ms_samp2.jpgAs you can see, the graphics are kind of useless and almost comical. However the information is good, and in a culture like the US where half the people won’t talk about sex much less try to figure out how to do it right, it could only help. This volume covers topics ranging from kissing, hymens and virginity, honeymoons, foreplay, love hotels, premature ejaculation, non-sexual intimacy and communication, breasts, erogenous zones, and the ever-popular reverse cowgirl. There’s even an afterward question and answer session with a sex therapist. Facts pepper the pages (–>).

But, I have to wonder if the book would really be of interest to most English speaking people. I showed this to my non-manga-reading husband and the following conversation took place:

Me: What would you think if someone, like a girlfriend, gave this to you?

Him: My girlfriends know I don’t need it.

Me: *swats*

Him: Seriously? I’d laugh and think it was a joke.

Me: Why? The information in it’s good.

Him: The format. It’s cartoons. It’s a cultural thing. The Japanese are used to getting information in this format. But in the US, cartoon = kids stuff or comedy.

Me: Except to the people who know better.

Him: Those are the only ones who would take this seriously.

Me: A small niche — even smaller since only the adults could buy it.

Him: *nods* Adult manga readers are probably the ones who need it most though, living in basements without ever meeting the opposite sex, and not having a clue about what to do with them if they do.

Me: …. I’m an adult manga reader.

Him: …. This is one of those ‘Do I look fat?’ situations, isn’t it?

Those who wish to contact my husband over the next few days may try the doghouse.

But his initial point was valid. If you’re capable of gleaning information from a book regardless of the format, you might find the Manga Sutra full of useful and interesting facts. But the presentation makes it a hard sell in this society unless you’re already a manga fan; I wouldn’t suggest buying it for someone who isn’t. And even for manga readers the presentation is kind of eye-rolling and can be very annoying at times because of the side characters. So in the end, despite its potential usefulness, I’d have to give this a C+.




reads any genre as long as the books aren't depressing. Her preferred reads these days are in manga format and come from all manga genres, but she especially likes romance, doubly so when there are beautiful men involved. With each other. Her favorites among currently-running English-translated manga series include NANA, Ze, Ouran High School Host Club, Junjou Romantica, Blood Alone, Vampire Knight, Skip Beat, Silver Diamond and anything by the holy triumvirate of BL: Ayano Yamane, Kazuma Kodaka and Youka Nitta, including any scribbles they might do on the backs of napkins.


  1. Kristie(J)
    Feb 13, 2008 @ 07:09:22

    LOL at the conversation with Dear Husband. Somehow it figures that the ones who could use such instruction wouldn’t read it or take it as a joke *g*

  2. Teddypig
    Feb 13, 2008 @ 07:38:08

    This is one of those ‘Do I look fat?' situations, isn't it?

    Ah yes, this is like when Jason comes out after the morning shower wearing some new type of mens underwear.

    Oh those are cute honey. Hmmm, I need more coffee.
    *Teddypig runs off hiding his smirk trying not to laugh out loud*

  3. (Jān)
    Feb 13, 2008 @ 09:31:00

    One good thing about this volume that I neglected to mention is that it’s oversized and thick (my mind is so in the gutter right now), which makes it handy for swatting husbands.

  4. Keishon
    Feb 13, 2008 @ 09:58:09

    I saw this! Started to buy it, too, but something made me hesistate. The conversation with hubby was funny.

    Oh, I am reading The Crimson Spell right now! I like it :-)

  5. (Jān)
    Feb 13, 2008 @ 10:12:07

    I think for the money you’d spend on this series you can find better sex advice books. Heck, you could buy a bunch of them, plus invest in some toys. ;) Really, this strikes me as being more of a novelty than anything for most of the public.

    I’m so glad you’re liking The Crimson Spell. And I heard that vol 2 is coming out around August. I can’t wait to get it!

  6. Maya
    Feb 13, 2008 @ 10:26:36

    jan, i love your husband. hope he gets out of the doghouse soon *g*

  7. Jill A
    Feb 13, 2008 @ 10:54:35

    LOL, interesting pick to review! And a nice straightforward look at it as well.

    It did set off my inner anal (very anal, sorry!) Japanese teacher when you mentioned hentai – hentai is what Western audiences call Japanese porn, but in Japan hentai means deviant or weirdo (can be in a sexual or non-sexual way). This manga sounds pretty ‘normal’ as to the sex, so it wouldn’t be called hentai – in Japan at least. Of course, if you’re using the term in its English usage, this doesn’t really matter and you can happily ignore my nitpicking ^_^

    I don’t even know if there is a Japanese word for ‘porn’ really…most sexual products are just labeled as 18plus.
    Just a comment in case you are ever looking at Japanese sexual stuff – if you look for ‘hentai’, you might get more than you bargained for ;)

  8. (Jān)
    Feb 13, 2008 @ 11:02:13

    The author himself calls it hentai, though not just hentai, so it seems reasonable to apply the word he used. :)

    (I actually like to read hentai on occasion. I know the range of what’s out there, even to ero guro, which I don’t like but have seen. I find it much more entertaining than western porn.)

  9. Katie
    Feb 13, 2008 @ 12:23:36

    Manga Sutra? Look at all the pretty pictures! Will there be over 5,000 pictures since I believe there is over 5,000 sexual positions to cover?

  10. (Jān)
    Feb 13, 2008 @ 13:24:49

    LOL, well, it’s at 37 volumes and has been going since 1996. I guess as long as the writer lasts…

    The series does expand to the love lives of other characters, like the sister Rika who often has two and three lovers a night, so with that many people being covered there’s the ability to cover a whole lot of territory.

  11. Estara
    Feb 13, 2008 @ 16:34:33

    Hmm, well if the US hikikomori read it and eventually get girl/boyfriends that might already be a nice thing.

    Wasn’t the Japanese word for sex-related stuff “ero” or “echi”? And didn’t echi come from US pronunciation of H in hentai?? Hmm.

  12. Jane
    Feb 13, 2008 @ 19:43:48

    The tongues in the pictures look so freakishly wrong. Like fingers or alien growths on the side of their cheeks.

  13. (Jān)
    Feb 13, 2008 @ 20:24:57

    Jane, I thought they looked like aliens too. Like wiggly flower stamens a la Little Shop of Horrors.

    The guy just isn’t that good at drawing kissing in any form. He seems to do breasts really well LOL, but kissing he could stand to work on.

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  15. Himalayan Niagra
    Apr 24, 2008 @ 17:18:00

    The book cover and graphics look cute and interesting. I’d definitely love to read it. Is it available out of Japan?

  16. (Jān)
    Apr 24, 2008 @ 17:21:40

    Yes, the first volume at least came out a few months ago. You may need to order it online though since Barnes and Noble probably doesn’t carry it. I think volume two is out this month as well, but I’m not sure about that.

  17. luna
    May 08, 2008 @ 21:46:47

    Barn and noble does have the book cause that’s were I got my copy and so does forbiden planet…
    I found out that even people who don’t really like manga that much like the book and the info it has…

  18. (Jān)
    May 08, 2008 @ 22:52:12

    Barnes and Noble online has it, but I know that it has a standing policy not to carry mature rated manga in its brick and mortar stores. Maybe it’s different in California though, but elsewhere people will need to go to Borders or buy it online (or buy it through a local comic shop, which would be the best option).

    (You live by Forbidden Planet? I’m so jealous. What a great store! I only got to go there once when I was living there a short time, but it was for a great signing by two authors who would never come near where I live now.)

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