Feb 13 2008
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.
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
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):
<- with diagrams <- start here
And then he tries it out (with an intermittent page removed):
As 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.
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
, cartoon = kids stuff or comedy. US
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+.