Friday, February 16, 2018

Book-A-Day 2018 #47: Manga Sutra, Vol. 2 by Katsu Aki

I believe I've had this book on the shelf for ten years, which means it's one of the small number of things that survived my 2011 flood. (That destroyed my entire basement and somewhere around 4,000 books.) I'm not sure why or how this book survived, but I'm pretty sure I haven't managed to read it until now largely because Manga Sutra is unsuitable for reading on a public train, where I read most of my book-format comics.

In any case, I read Vol. 1 of this series for a "Manga Friday" post at ComicMix back in August of 2008, and finally got to Katsu Aki's Manga Sutra, Vol. 2 in February of 2018.At this rate, I could get through the remaining two US collections by the time I retire, which would leave me time to learn Japanese to read the seventy-two tankobon volumes (to date as of now; it's still running) in my copious spare time.

Or maybe not.

Manga Sutra, sometimes known as Step Up Love Story (the title of the anime adaptation) or Manga Love Story, is a combination romance story and sex manual. It's an odd romance, since it begins after the two main characters are already married and in love. But it's a more typical sex manual: those tend to be for people who don't know what they're doing, and these two very inexperienced young people have no idea what they're doing.

Makoto and Yura Onoda appear not to have had sex before getting married, with each other or with anyone else. They also seem not to have thought about sex, or possibly even known sex existed before that point, at least on Yura's part. (They both have families filled with horndogs, though -- his older brother and her younger sister most prominently -- implying their extreme inexperience is purely for ease of storytelling.) They're having a lot of sex now: this second volume takes place a few months into their marriage, when they've most mastered inserting Tab A into Slot B in ways that both of them generally find appealing, and they do it most nights.

There are problems, of course, or else what use would be the sex manual? Makoto has trouble getting and keeping an erection some of the time, which is largely solved in this volume by Yura learning that blowjobs are a thing and being taught how to do them by her kid sister, with the aid of the requisite banana. On the other side, Yura has not had an orgasm from sex, and probably hasn't had one at all, and that's not quite solved yet. (Makoto was performing oral sex on Yura earlier than she on him, so perhaps he just hasn't had as effective a teacher as Yura did. Or maybe one breakthrough per volume is the maximum allowable.) And both of them are hugely apprehensive, and Yura deeply embarrassed, about talking to each other about sex other than the most basic "tonight?"

Starting to write this review, I was surprised to learn that this series is still running, after twenty years. And I wondered: is it locked into time like Kinsey Milhone, so that Makoto and Yura are still newlyweds in the late '90s and not that good at sex? Or have they been leveling up consistently since then, and have sex powers over 9000? Either way could be fun.

Manga Sutra is a bit old-fashioned, so that it's not too far ahead of anyone who might come to it. It's also a bit old-fashioned because it's a bit old at this point -- twenty years is a whole generation. Old-fashioned generally means the sex is tasteful: penetration is only shown as cutaway graphics and genitalia are never clearly drawn. But old-fashioned also means those wacky families nudge-nudge wink-winking tediously, and a gaggle of office ladies trying to entice Makoto into an affair -- luckily, he's too in love with his wife (or too oblivious) to even notice.  In many ways, Manga Sutra is your father's sex-instruction comic. And, if you need or want that, four volumes like this are out there for you.

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