I’m pleased as punch and mad as a porridge knife to offer you a Guest Review today by Okazu Hero Katherine! Katherine thank you so, so much for this review because it means I didn’t have to write anything for today! Yay! :-) I would like to take this opportunity to flog an old horse. This review is about a scanlation. You may have noticed that I do not do reviews of scanlations. I either buy the book in English or Japanese, or one of the Okazu heroes buys it for me. I know that some scanlation groups simply desire to share obscure and out-of-print things with fans. However, I strongly object to fans who read scanlations and watch fansubs but do not support the genre in any meaningful way. I know that my readers are huge purchasers of Yuri, and for that I am immensely proud and thankful, so I am not accusing you, dear reader. Just making a point for people who should stumble upon this review randomly, or who have never considered the issue before. Thank you for your patience, the dead horse flogging is done, the review will now commence.
When I found Shizuru Hayashiya’s debut work, a modest one-shot titled V-Hunter, my heart went aflutter and my eyes lit up with childlike glee at the thought of seeing the starting point for Hayashiya-sensei’s professional manga career, which would later include the excellent action-comedy Hayate x Blade and the delightfully goofy rom-com Strawberry Shake Sweet. After reading V-Hunter, all that I could think was, “Hayashiya’s come a long way since then….”
Don’t get me wrong. The story features Hayashiya’s trademark energy, screwball humor, and of course, Yuri. (Yay!) But like any incipient mangaka, her story is marked with the telltale signals of inexperience. First, the artwork. The character designs are very 90s shoujo. Hayashiya was clearly still defining her own unique style when she drew this. While full of dynamic facial expressions and expressive body gestures (a signature of her later manga), the art lacks the confident, solid line work and more appealing, refined character designs that she would hone in her later works. (Although her take on Rhett Butler is hilarious.)
The story itself is fairly unique. A high school-aged girl (come to think of it, she never gets a name…) rents an old VHS copy of Gone with the Wind (E here…OLD? That’s all we *had* in the 90s! Sheesh.) from a local video store. But since she’s playing the video for the 666th time (*insert evil laughter*), out pops a demonic version of Rhett Butler who, being a demon, needs the blood of a virgin after arriving to earth. That does mean what you think it means, but before Rhett can sully our virtuous heroine, a mysterious woman conveniently shows up (the V-hunter or “video stream manipulator,” who does get a name) and, upon the girl’s request, banishes Rhett back into the video (I’m laughing as I type this) using another video demon from a well-known horror flick. After the V-hunter’s task is complete, the girl asks her how she can repay her. But since she can’t pay the monetary fee (3,000,000 yen), she agrees to “pay” the V-Hunter using her body. (Which again, does mean what you think it means, but Hayashiya doesn’t show anything more than strictly necessary. Sorry. :) ) The V-Hunter then leaves, and the omniscient narrator sagely reveals that the V-Hunter only saves pretty girls. How noble. :)
So, despite the threat of non-con, this comes through as a fluffy, fun one-shot (more fun than it really should be @_@;;) that will satisfy those looking for some goofy humor and a weird story, if not the storytelling chops and broadly appealing characterization that appears in Hayashiya’s later works. (But hey, it’s a one-shot.) Anybody who’s a fan of Shizuru Hayashiya’s manga should check it out, if only for the fun of seeing how far she’s progressed and which elements have been present in her work since the beginning of her career.
Art: 6 (Fun, but kinda sketchy.)
Characters: 6 (Nobody I would want to meet, but still entertaining.)
Hayashiya Fan: 8
Thanks again Katherine and Lililicious, for bringing us a look at another screwball Yuri comedy from the screwball mind of Hayashiya-sensei. I’ll be back tomorrow, but no clue if I’ll care about you all enough to post. See you soon!