When you think of hostesses at Japanese clubs, the first thing you think of is…what? I’m betting that the characters that make up the “Sweet and Juicy Papaya Girls” of Papaya Gundan aren’t it. ^_^
Club Papaya is run by Hajime. Like most hostess clubs, the girls who work for him use aliases. Chieri, a popular girl with his customers, who happens to have a sex-friend relationship with one of his other girls, Mika. Mika definitely takes it way more seriously than Chieri, though and it’s causing some friction between them.
In the meantime, Hajime has fallen for one of his employees, an attractive, classic beauty who goes by the name Kyouko. Little does the owner know that Kyouko’s true passion is writing Boys’ Love doujinshi.
And then there’s Mariko who sort of adopts a younger guy she meets on the street. The next thing we know they are involved, and things are just getting plain weird between them.
The stories stand alone, but they don’t live alone – each intertwines with the other, and at least for this volume, the story of Chieri and Mika takes the lead spot.
It turns out that Mika knows Ryuu, Mariko’s adoptee boyfriend, from previous years of dancing practice. Of course when Chieri and Mariko learn about this – they want to see them dance. (Seriously – if it was your lover, wouldn’t you want to, too?) The surprise is on them when they learn that by “dance,” they meant “ballet” – and they are both damn good, as it turns out. After they finish their dance, Ryuu runs up to Mariko and confesses that he loves her, loudly, awkwardly and adorably sincerely.
In the mean time, Hajime pursues Kyouko, and upon learning that she’s called in sick, rushes over to pay her a visit with flowers and food. She’s actually called in sick to write her next doujinshi, but she can’t bring herself to tell him the truth. Nonetheless Hajime earns props, because indulgence goes a long way with winning a woman over. ^_^
One of the biggest points of contention between Chieri and Mika is the truth. Mika won’t give Chieri her real name, or tell her where she lives. One early spring day, Mika asks Chieri to meet her in town before work. Chieri is a little surprised to see Mika approach wearing a school uniform. She asks what the deal is, and is even more surprised to learn that Mika, whose real name is Kurara (oh, god, so cute! thinks Chieri) has just graduated from high school. The reason Mika never said where she lived was, because, when she turned 18 she ran away from home and is living with her brother Hajime, the club owner. Chieri forgives the deception, and takes Mika to a hotel to have a dirty weekend.
This volume wraps up with Kyouko coming in to work with a slapmark on her face, the result of her boyfriend stating that it’s either him or the doujinshi. When he comes to the club to beg her forgiveness and ask her to marry him, she responds with a chokehold of foul language and a piledriver of a middle finger. Hajime, mister cool, jumps right in to ask her to go out with him. ^_^ You really gotta love him.
This was the third of the three manga I recently purchased which surprised me by not sucking. It’s published by Fx Comics, the same company that publishes Aoi Hana, so it probably runs in a magazine for guys, but there’s a decidedly josei feel about it in art and content. If you’re looking for a josei-style story in which the women do *not* put up with abusive and assholish behavior from men, and in which the girl gets the girl to boot, you might want to give Papaya Gundan a chance. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. :-)
Art – 4 (I cannot stand the sex-doll lips style of josei)
Story – 8
Characters – 8
Yuri – 9
Service – 4
Overall – 8
It’s, like, for grownups. About grownups. Kinda weird, huh?