Manga-ka: Kazuto Okada
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: September 2008
Synopsis: “Torture, teasing, and humiliation from Kurumi ensues, but Hideo’s crush on her only worsens! When nasty rumors start flying about Kurumi’s promiscuity, Hideo finds the source and sets things straight. But even he can’t explain the mysterious pair of men’s shoes in her apartment. Meanwhile, the Roman Club accepts a bet from the sneaky class president which involves wandering through a haunted graveyard and playing a creepy game of hide-and-seek in the school after dark.”
In this third volume of Sundome, Kurumi is accused of selling herself for money, which to some doesn’t seem as far a stretch as they’d like to think. On top of that, a pair of men’s shoes in her apartment only fuels Hideo’s paranoia. Between ghost hunting and getting in out of the rain, Hideo’s sexual slavery to Kurumi continues to know no bounds… unless Kurumi sets them.
What weirded me out the most about this volume is the positive outcomes that seem to be forming for Hideo. Numerous times is his betterment as a person implied, or directly shown, through his sexual control at the hands of Kurumi. Stronger, faster, more decisive: are all those attributes due to her? Are her acts really bettering him as a person? Not to say I’ve completely accepted this situation as one that’ll be treated as a bad thing by the book, but I can’t help but find it a little unsettling having these acts, displayed in such a mind-twisted manner, as being a proactive solution to Hideo’s otherwise unmotivated lifestyle.
Various fetishes are also explored, though one could say that the whole series itself is one big fetish really. Some of these ‘interests’, of the leads Kurumi and Hideo, or some of their club friends, including miniature dolls, big breasts, dirty man butts and urination. What the story seems to go for is showing that anything can be a fetish to someone, especially if the circumstances are ‘right’.
This series as a whole continues to confuse me in a way that I don’t think can be resolved until I read the final volume. What will this all lead to? Is there a greater point to Kurumi’s controlling game with Hideo? And how is that girl so casual about all this groin fondling and exhibition in such a creepy manner? In the meantime, this third volume supplies some more short time questions, such as who is this mysterious older man in Kurumi’s apartment and will anything be done about Kyouko’s ex?
On a different note, Kazuto Okada’s art fails to impresses yet again here in the third volume. While their strength clearly lies in drawing the dark and sexual moments, which in the style’s defence are drawn with some nice anatomy work and shading, other moments are far less polished and lack a lot in the way of visual appeal. Much of the art reminds me of a bad how-to-draw-manga instructional book, and while the irony proves amusing for a moment, the empty, lopsided eyes and occasional big-head-syndrome, doesn’t work in the story’s favour at all.
So while I feel a little creeped out, and despite the raunchiest of hentais and steamiest of yaois I’ve read, a little skeezy while reading it, Sundome proves itself to be enigma that must be fully explored by this point. I don’t know how much more of Kurumi’s games I can take, but if I last the ride, than I hope to find out it was worth the trip.