I enjoyed this romantic suspense. I received this book for free and I voluntarily chose to review it. I've given it a 4.5* rating. This is Not for the under 18 readers because of sexual content. There was a lot of action in this and it pulled me in from the first. I enjoyed that a bit of it was centered around a yarn shop, since I crochet. And it made me happy with the good guys winning in the end, sort of.
I bought this and the next two volumes while bargain bin shopping a while back. The cover made me think it might be some kind of "bad boy + nerdy wallflower" romance. It's not.
Jyoushioka High School used to be an all-girls' school until a few years ago. Although it's now co-ed, the school's girls still vastly outnumber the boys. All the boys are placed in S-class, which only the richest and brightest girls are assigned to.
Azusa Mizutani is the school's newest male transfer student. He has no idea how the school works, and he soon realizes that he'll have to learn fast. Since boys are few and far between, nearly all of the girls are sex crazed. S-class gets first dibs on raping the boys, after which they're fair game for anyone who can get at them. Munechika, the school's most powerful guy, has learned how to make the system work for him, and his advice to Azusa is simple: just accept it and don't get anyone pregnant.
Azusa doesn't have many options. He can take control and actively seduce girls the way Munechika does, keep running until he's finally cornered and raped, or find a girl who's willing to date him and thereby stake her claim on him. When he accidentally comes across Rise Okitsu, a girl who just wants to make it through high school without getting involved in any trouble, he decides to declare her his girlfriend.
I always liked Del Rey's manga releases because they all had pages of useful translator's notes. Those notes are probably the best thing about this pile of garbage.
This series is basically just an excuse for lots of on-page abuse and near-rape. Within the first few pages, Azusa spots a guy in tears because a gang of girls ripped all his clothes off. During his first class, he reads a note being passed around in which all the girls are talking about how hot he is and what it'll be like when they tie him up, take embarrassing pictures of him, and rape him. (I don't recall the word "rape" ever being used in the volume, but it's pretty clear that's what the girls intend to do.) After Azusa forces Rise to help him,
she's bullied and set up to be raped by a lesbian who she initially mistakes for a man.
There are a couple instances where girls try to drug Azusa -
in fact, they actually do manage to give him something near the end of the volume, which leads to Azusa almost forcing himself on Rise (she punches him).
The brief quiet period after Azusa initially announced that he belonged to Rise bothered me on multiple levels. Both Azusa and Rise started to relax, thinking their fellow students' sudden friendliness was genuine, and all I could think was how gross it would be to smile and laugh with students who were only behaving like decent human beings because of a necktie (students who are dating each other exchange neckties).
There are a few gender-flipped instances of the sorts of things women often encounter. For example, when Azusa first finds out how the girls treat the boys, he tells himself that the boy he saw on his way to his first class must have had a problem (had done something that led to the girls attacking him). That kind of thing wouldn't happen to him because he's different. So we have victim-blaming as a form of self-comfort (which doesn't last long in this case). Then there's the whole "ownership" aspect of dating - guys gaining some measure of protection by declaring that they "belong" to one particular girl. The gender-flipping didn't make any of it less gross, and I have a feeling that, in the end, Yuzuki was aiming more for "titillating rape fantasy" than some sort of commentary on rape culture.
There was also some "not like other girls" crap. Rise was the only girl who wasn't involved in the boy-hunting and the only one who seemed to be even slightly bothered by any of it. There were also multiple instances of her fuming about the "heifers" and "sluts" at her school.
If I continue on, it's because I already own the next couple volumes and it's always hard for me to force myself to offload stuff I haven't read. I can't get the "what if it gets better?" voice to shut up, even in cases like this, where odds are really good that it won't get better and might even get worse.
Four pages of translators notes, a couple pages of honorifics explanations, a few author freetalk sections (including the postscript, in which the author writes "Well, to tell you the truth, I've been drawing manga just by my instincts, so I don't know the basics of building up a story." (175)), and at least one humorous four-panel comic featuring characters from the series.
(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)
Plain Jane and the Hitman
by Tmonique Stephens
The Plain Jane Series
January 1, 2019
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No one fucked with him. Including most of the women. Oh, some brave souls sauntered up to him in their bikinis and clear heels. Their breasts high, their pelvises forward, strutting like they were on a runway. With a flick of his fingers, he sent them on their way.
Now, he stared at her with the icy blue eyes. Did that color have a name? “I didn’t need your help.”
He cocked his head to the side and she noticed he had a touch of salt mixed in with his coal black hair at his temple. His brow lowered to two angry slashes over those eyes, he stated matter-of-factly, “You did. Accept it and move on.” His lips formed a grim slash that she suspected were full if he ever smiled. She couldn’t tell if his jaw was squared or sharp due to a full beard and mustache, but she wanted to know.
Hand to the small of her back, he guided her through the throng. She had no idea where he led her and didn’t fight it. Out of the crowd was good enough for now. People cleared out of their way when they saw him coming. She didn’t like his familiarity, his hand on her body, heating her skin through the thin barrier of her shirt, or her body’s reaction to that heat. She certainly didn’t approve of the way he took over. For the moment, she kept that opinion to herself.
He guided her out of the bazaar to a small compact car parked on a side road and opened the passenger door. “Get in,” he ordered, assuming she’d obey as he rounded the front of the car. Such a gentleman. Not that she cared.
“I was taught to never take a ride from a stranger.”
He leaned on the hood, arms splayed, knuckles pressed onto the metal, those cold eyes of his latched onto her. “Good lesson. Doesn’t apply today. Get in the car.”
An eyebrow shop up and his head cocked to the side.
She got the sense no one questioned him. That this was a first for him. “You want to stay and deal with that guy when he wakes up, since you didn’t need my help?”
“Don’t threaten me.”
His brow arched. “You consider that a threat? Babe, when I threaten you, you’ll know it.”
Babe? Hackles rose on the back of her neck. The last thing she needed was to be alone in a car with this man. The hotel shuttle coasted by them and stopped at the end of the street, a block away.
“Thanks for the offer of the ride and getting my stuff back.” She slammed his car door closed and headed for the shuttle. Don’t know why, but she expected footsteps coming up behind her. There weren’t any. She made it to the open-air shuttle and parked her ass on the bench, along with the other hotel guests who visited the bazaar.
Five minutes later, the shuttle pulled away and she bounced along with the rest of the people, aware of the car trailing them.
Don’t turn around. Don’t turn around.