This is the final part of Round 2 for Substandard Shoujo Spectacle. A quick summary of where our other contestants stand: Both Black Bird and Hot Gimmick are still neck-in-neck as both really picked up their game and made it to A-. Suki Shite Sadist had a more toned down chapter two, but still plenty of silly elements to warrant a B+. Meanwhile, Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun‘s chapter two scored a lowly D+ because it seems to be headed in a better direction and manages to frame the less exemplary aspects in a less problematic way than they normally appear in other manga. Finally Hadashi de Bara wo Fume shows us its true colours by totally destroying all characterization for Sumi established in chapter 1 and instead replacing it with a silly infantile Sumi; and shooting up to a B+ in the process. Unfortunately that trend is continuing with our final two manga, which makes Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun the only manga that’s actually getting better instead of worse. sigh.

The Beautiful Skies of Houou High

  • Keeping with shoujo tradition, Houou High give us another charming asshat for a love interest, who we can always count on to torment the heroine because tormenting the heroine is such a must! What would we do if the female character didn’t have to be constantly abused. It would be just so down right boring! And Houou loses no time with this either. Just in the very first few pages of this chapter, Yui forces Kei to keep her barf down cause she’ll dirty the classroom. Truly, what an outstanding young man. Indeed we need more individuals who place such value in the cleanliness of their classrooms over the welfare of their fellow man woman.
  • Unfortunately, Kei’s woman brain is a bit more developed than most, so she is fully aware that Yui is treating her like shit and hates it. But I’m sure she’ll eventually understand that he does this out of love; or at the very least that it doesn’t matter how he treats her as long as he’s hot and rich.

hahaha? Sexual and Physical abuse is so funny, right?

  • But Houou realizes that mean love interests are a dime a dozen in the shoujo world, so it needs to add more oomph to Yui. And what better way to stand out from the crowd than to make the love interest a sociopath that enjoys stabbing people with giant needles and then sexually assaulting/raping them by putting foreign objects up their bum.
  • And Kei’s most important worry when she notices these tendencies? She won’t be able to become a wife anymore! Hmm, I could have sworn that girls don’t expect their partner to save himself for them in patriarchal cultures. But I guess for lesbians, patriarchal rules still apply to both partners, even though they can’t really get married (legally) and Kei acknowledged as much last chapter… Ah, but what good is logic when you can have DRAMA! AMIRITE?
  • And if that wasn’t enough to convince you that Yui is the meanest of the mean. He punches Kei for thanking him when he gave her a phone. But don’t worry guys, he isn’t being nice or anything. He’s just giving her a phone so he can use its GPS function to track her every movement so she can never escape from him. Why stop at just making him a sociopath when he can be a stalking sociopath!
  • And if you guys were having any doubts that this wasn’t going to be lesbian corrective training. We get our first glimpse at success when Kei notices her heart skipped a beat when Yui showed a bit of kindness to her. Damn right girl! No way you can like other girls. Liking men is like instinct, you cannot escape from it.
  • Ah, Cowardly teachers. Why am I not surprised?
  • And if the premise wasn’t outrageous enough for you yet, this chapter reveals that every time Kei mentions she is a girl, sharp metal rods, which seem to be coated with some sort of corrosive that corrodes anything it touches, get thrown her way. How this is being done? WHO CARES! TENSION! DRAMA! That’s all that matters.
  • But if one violent crazy dude isn’t enough, Kei runs into another one. He tells her she stinks as well. Man, Kei’s getting quite a charming reverse harem.

The Silver Lining?

You know, there is a theme running through most of these second chapters, and that’s the theme of taking what I liked about the first chapter and just throwing all that out the window so that there just isn’t anything else for me to really point out and say, “hey look, it’s not that bad.” Those funny moments back in chapter 1? Totally destroyed this chapter by focusing on Yui’s abuse of Kei. It’s not even the “haha” slap stick kind. It’s just full on abuse, or just plain creepy. Also, the barfing thing: I get the point, it’s not funny, it’s not cute, it’s not even interesting to Kei’s character because we get it after the first few times, so stop making her barf every few panels. It really makes the character look ridiculous and not very realistic. That said, I did like that no one saved Kei. Houou High is one of two (the other being Suki Shite Sadist) manga that still hasn’t given into the whole, let’s put the heroine in a predicament and have a man (usually the love interest) save her. I also like that Kei fully knows that what Yui is doing to her is bullying and horrible and she hates it. The only moment she thinks nice thoughts about him is when he gives her the phone (since she doesn’t see any strings attached). It’s not much, but it still is something. Doesn’t save the chapter for me, but does make this chapter a tad more bearable than others.

Ranking: B-

Barf Inducing, Abusive, Corrective School for Lesbians. A slow build up it is! While not much compared to the likes of Hot Gimmick and Suki Shite Sadist, I can see that Houou High is very slowly laying down the ground work to catch up to those at the top with a totally shameless revelation that Kei will be hot for a man like any “normal” girl. I mean, we already got a tease of that this chapter, so I fully expect Houou High to deliver the goods eventually. In the mean time, we can look forward to Yui abusing Kei cause that’s always fun.

The Devil Within

  • We open up with Rion being all melodramatic about some imaginary young boys being all heart-broken over the fact that she has fiances and running away in despair. Why yes, why don’t we make the heroine into a bigger creep. Can’t go wrong with that~
  • So why does dear papa want to cure Rion? Why, so she can make him an heir cause he’s a rich and successful business man now. Clearly, making Rion the hier is a bad idea. Those womanz can’t handle business cause they got weak woman brains. They’re only good for babies. Right on daddy, right on!
  • And once again, glasses dude, I mean Somi, saves our heroine when dear daddy throws a carrot at her for talking back to him. Not to worry though, he isn’t doubting big dad’s authority. He was just “conditioned” to respond.
  • Why yes, let’s make Rion believe that ex-homeless dude wants to sexually assault her, but instead what he really wants is food. Man, this is just *so* funny.
  • U la la, Rion even gets access to her reverse harem’s rooms whenever she likes. You know, in case she feels like having sex with one of them at night or something. Ah, but just to make things fair (and quicker), dear daddy has also given each one the dudes a key to her room too. How considerate.
  • Her dad’s name is Satan. I have no words except: AHAHAHAHAHAHA. Are these manga competing for most ridiculous story or what?

Parenting at its finest!

  • And what’s this, that adult video was intentionally given to Rion to keep her away from “an unfavourable partner.” Man, what great parenting! If this dude was real, I’d nominate him for Best Dad. Hell, I’ll just nominate him for Best Manga Dad!
  • And our charming boy love interest makes a return by once again calling Rion a stupid girl. And boy is she happy to hear it cause there is nothing more charming to a woman’s heart than being called stupid.
  • That’s right, reverse harem dude #1, Rion is such an ungrateful woman! How dare she refuse your help. Those selfish women, how dare they try to think they have the right to do with their body what they want (even if it be suicide). Of course, Rion wasn’t trying to jump to kill herself, she was trying to jump down to the balcony below to get it on with her boy love, Tenshi-kun.
  • And once again, our dear “angelic” tenshi-kun calls Rion stupid and says he hates her cause she’s already got some man up in her place. Cause nobody wants used goods, right? Of course!

The Silver Lining?

…..

…Ok ok, if I try to reach really really hard I guess our boy love interest is going to be a dude that just happens to look like a boy. He’s smoking a cigarette, called himself a man back in chapter 1, and seems annoyed that Rion already has a man up in her room. Does this make it any better? No. I don’t buy it when they do it with young girls, who are supposed to be over 400 years old, and I don’t buy it here. It’s just a weak excuse to give us sexually aggressive children or somehow try to downplay that the relationship is wrong by attaching an artificial age to the character. If they look prepubescent, especially in comparison with other characters (I am more lenient when it is more the artwork and everyone just looks young), then I don’t care if you say they are really 30, 50, even 600 years old. If they are supposed to be that old, just draw them that old. There is no reason to give them child-like bodies unless you want to appeal to that subsection that likes those sorts of things. I’m only thankful that there haven’t been any real sexual encounters yet (outside that kiss), and I do hope that the artist keeps it that way. Although I can say I did find this chapter so ridiculous that it actually amused me. Not in a good way, mind you, but hey at least it’s something right? sigh.

Ranking: A

Just Want a Man in a Little Boy’s Body. I absolutely love how Devil Within isn’t afraid of depicting Rion as a total creep and I also love how it’s going to pull the artificial age card to try to justify why our Tenshi-kun can totally get it on with Rion even though he’s a little kid. And of course, all the other characters are as equally awesome from the three man reverse harem to our lovable daddy. I didn’t think any manga could give a Mayu Shinjou manga a run for its money, but truly The Devil Within as blown me away in this regard. I await with bated breath just how much further it shall be willing to go.

Overall Chapter 2 Rankings?!

7. Suki Shite Sadist
6. The Devil Within
5. Hot Gimmick
4. Hadashi de Bara wo Fume
3. The Beautiful Skies of Houou High
2. Black Bird
1. Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun

These rankings are based on how much I, personally, enjoyed the second chapter of each manga. I liked Suki Shite Sadist the least because nothing much really happens this chapter, the characters are pretty shallow and boring, and I really really hate the career woman demonizing. The Devil Within managed to rank one step higher only because it was so ridiculous that I actually chuckled at a few really stupid parts. Honestly, I hope whoever wrote it wasn’t trying to be serious with the story because it’s just too stupid to actually even try to take it seriously. I really dislike Ryouki from Hot Gimmick and this chapter just reminded me why. He’s really the worst love interest out of this group (or at least tied with Yui). And I’m not a fan of how passive Hatsumi has been written this chapter. Hadashi was just disappointing. I was really hoping it would manage to be another Tonari but alas instead we get infantile Sumi and unrealistic drama. I really dislike heroines with no real thoughts in their mind. Houou High, on the other hand, still has a decent female lead even if Yui is as horrible as Ryouki. Black Bird was ok. I like Misao enough and Kyo is at least nicer than a few of the other leads. Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun is the only one I’m really enjoying from this group  at the moment though.

–SW

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