Dr Master has just put out Volume 8 of High School Girls, and it’s pretty much more of the same wackiness. If, like me, you read this to look at Towa Oshima’s wonderful facial expressions, you won’t be disappointed. Eriko, in particular, gets to express disgust, dismay, and embarrassment in a variety of amusingly drawn ways.
This volume continues the class trip to Okinawa, and Chapter 1 involves Eriko and Kouda attempting to bond with the Takarazuka pair, Nao and Sayaka, and failing miserably. Kouda is just too much of a giant freak all the time, and every time that Eriko tries to be friendly, Kouda interrupts with a new horror.
This continues throughout the book, and eventually they do get to know a little more about the pair. In fact, Nao and Sayaka have the only thing remotely approaching plot development here, as we discover that Sayaka has a secret that she’s hiding from her classmates. Once again, Towa’s expansion of the cast works well, as we get to know people beyond just the main six.
The manga has about the final third devoted to three short stories. The first has Momoko once again trying to give the girls beauty tips, with the usual results. In the second, Ayano discovers that her sister is dating Kouda’s brother, much to her horror. And in the last (and best), Eriko and her brother try to find various ways to beat the heat, and Eriko remains completely oblivious to the fact that her brother’s hit puberty by now so she shouldn’t be bathing with him anymore.
The main reason to get this, of course, is for the comedy. There is Yuri, yes, but it’s Yuri played for laughs. Nao and Sayaka sleep in the same bed, and Nao even scrubs Sayaka’s body with her hands in the bath (her skin is very sensitive, you see). Nao and Sayaka keep saying ‘please don’t misunderstand’, just to keep it vague enough for Japanese editors, but as Yuma notes, ‘It’s pretty clear what they’ve got going on there.’
We also get Kouda once again getting Eriko in compromising positions, and Yuma and Ayano acting far too close for comfort. Provided you don’t demand, you know, actual follow through in your Yuri, there’s plenty here for you.
There’s also tons of comedy, ranging from the usual embarrassment of periods and tampons to metatextual humor that breaks the fourth wall. At one point the gang are on an island trying to hunt wild animals, and Eriko tries to draw it for them. She can’t draw, so it’s basically a kid’s scribble. Lo and behold, they immediately catch a creature that looks, literally, exactly like the scribble. As Eriko notes, “This is turning into a different kind of manga…”
As for how Dr. Master did things… well, it’s still sort of schizophrenic. On the plus side, the cover is well done, the color pages are fantastic, and the reproduction is miles ahead of the earlier volumes. As for the adaptation…geh. When they don’t have to try to do Japanese culture, it’s a sturdy, well-written adaptation. When they do, either they translate it straight and don’t bother to note the joke, or they change it to an English variant that tends to jar horribly (Diff’rent Strokes references? In 2007? COME ON.) On the bright side, there’s fewer Japanese culture refs as the manga goes on, so things do improve.
Art: 8. Towa’s expressions get better and better, and even her SD-shorthand poses are funny.
Story: 5. There’s really no plot here at all, with the exception of finding out
Sayaka has a mysterious secret.
Characters: 7. Himeji and Ogawa are almost totally absent this volume-again – but the rest are fun and entertaining.
Yuri: 6. It’s quite a high rating for something where it’s all tease, but the tease is *so* blatant I moved it up a notch.
Service: 6. Again, I suspect any perverts who try to read this will be put off by the constant mentions of tampons, periods, and various other ‘female problems’. That said, this is fanservice-y as heck.
This is a fairly light and fluffy volume, but again, you aren’t reading this manga for the deep meaning or tragic backstory. If you like Japanese high school girls being weird, strange, and bizarre, and don’t mind a healthy dollop of service, then you’ll enjoy this.
Thanks so much Sean – my copy’s on its way and I’m looking forward to it even more. ^_^
And while I’m thinking about it – if you, dear reader, have ever wanted to try your hand at reviewing a Yuri Anime or Manga, especially one I won’t/can’t/haven’t covered, feel free to contact me and we can talk. There’s only so much time in the day and I appreciate a break once in a while. Consider your email your audition – it has to be well-written, grammatically correct, good spelling and it helps if you’re funny, too. lol
Here’s an idea. I have no intention of covering Hitohira, because I think that it’s stoopid. Send me a review of Hitohira and the best one gets posted. ^_^ Use the format I use in my reviews, with ratings at the bottom. I look forward to seeing what comes in! ^_^