This is an unusual post for this site. It’s rare enough that I write about manga since I hardly ever read it — the only post I’ve made under that category lately was my Touhou Suzunaan review, and I took that on partly because it has absolutely no chance of being adapted into anime form anyway. This is a different case, since Sono Bisque Doll has been adapted, and very successfully (and see my review of the first season here if you’re interested.)
Considering how well that first season did, I’m positive we’ll get a second one, but I liked it enough to not want to just wait around for that. So I went to the one local bookstore that has any manga stock at all and picked up the story where the anime so far left off, at the newly translated and released Vol. 6. It feels a little weird starting a series at the sixth volume, and just having this one volume labeled 6 on my shelf is playing hell on my OCD, but I’ve learned to deal with that. Or I’ll just buy the rest used, maybe, because I’m honestly not sure I can deal with that gap.
But now for the actual subject of this post: the sixth volume of Sono Bisque Doll, starting off from that cliffhanger/tease we were left on at the very end of last season between our leads, the dollmaker’s apprentice/tailor/student Wakana Gojo and his cosplayer classmate and friend/potential love interest Marin Kitagawa. Well, this is a slow burn romance, so we can’t have it so easy, can we? We know how these two feel about each other, at least, even if Marin’s far more aware of those feelings at this point than Wakana.
In addition to the usual bonding and cute “we’re basically in love but not mutually realizing it yet” stuff you expect from such series, Marin and Wakana further widen their cosplay friend circle with the introduction of Chitose Amane, a male crossdressing cosplayer who forms a fast bond with the pair, and with still a few more people in the cosplay sphere. I won’t get into the specifics of the events of this volume, but they line up nicely with the trend we’ve seen up until now, with Wakana continuing to build up his confidence thanks to his new friends and to his increasingly close relationship with Marin. He’s a fine man, and it’s good to see him continuing to improve himself.
The one thing I didn’t get much of from this set of chapters was relationship progression. In fact, the ending of the volume was a real kick in the head sort of cliffhanger, though I’m sure writer and illustrator Shinichi Fukuda will find a way to resolve that in the next volume (or rather she already has long ago, since naturally the story is a lot farther along in the original Japanese and in the not-so-legal scanlations you can find out there.)
As some compensation, though, we also get plenty of that wholesome lewdness. Marin is in a bunny suit on the cover of this volume for a reason, I’ll just say. It’s a manga/anime classic as far as fanservice outfits go for female leads, isn’t it? And just as before, this fanservice fits into the story and doesn’t feel unnaturally jammed in (more about which read my first season anime review.) I’ll also admit that I can appreciate the qualities of the classic bunny suit, and so can Marin, who has her usual level of boldness and confidence and embarrasses poor Wakana just as much as you’d expect.
Reading this manga for the first time, I can see that the anime really translated its look over well. Apparently there was just a slight bit of toning down in the anime regarding that “wholesome lewdness.” It’s still wholesome, but I was a little surprised to see that “mature content” label on the volume’s cover, and more surprised to see that unlike the vast majority of other manga volumes on sale it was wrapped in plastic. The entire Bisque Doll set on display was in plastic, in fact. I guess it’s a little too spicy to let just anyone look at it without buying, just like a Playboy.
Or maybe the cause is the detailed full-color cheesecake illustration of Marin as the frontispiece of the volume, prominently featuring her back end in the racy bunny suit she later wears in the manga proper. Fukuda knows her audience, I guess. Respect for just putting it all out there, in any case, and a nice reminder that it’s not just the guys who enjoy drawing such subjects.*
So this was something new. I titled this post “a look” instead of “a review” because I’ve never reviewed a single volume of a manga on its own before. Feels a bit like reviewing a few episodes of an anime, which is more or less what each of these volumes are when you match them up with their corresponding manga chapters, but that’s also something I don’t do, leaving the reviews for entire seasons. And see, I barely even talked about what happened in the manga itself with all my talk about its style and the circumstances around my buying it and all that shit, so it’s hardly a review anyway.
But hell I don’t know if this counts as a review or a look or what — it’s whatever you want to call it, I guess. Not sure if I’ll do any more of these, but it was interesting to jump over from an anime to the manga original, and I do plan on continuing on with the manga this time. And maybe I’ll do this with Call of the Night too. Shit, I really need more shelf space.
* Her name did confuse me a bit at first, Shinichi being a male name, but apparently it’s not uncommon for female mangaka to use male-sounding pen names. I’d expect that more from action manga creators than romance ones, but I guess she has her reasons for her pen name. Hell, I can’t think of a decent pen name for myself, so who am I to say anything about it.