Welcome to the final part of round 3! Last time we had our very first failure (F) from Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun. Meanwhile the other three manga all reached into A levels: Hot Gimmick with an A-, Suki Shite Sadist with an A, and Black Bird with an A+. This batch is a bit more varied, ranging from A-to-C.

Hadashi de Bara wo Fume (Stepping on Roses)

  • The chapter 3 cover asks us if there is any happiness for the marriage without love and then proceeds to talk about “a stream of love and romance”. Yes, let’s take the story in the most stereotypical direction possible. It’s not like it would be interesting to see Sumi coping with such a hard choice like choosing money and the safety of her family over freedom and happiness. Nope. Waaaay more interesting to see her hit the jackpot in terms of happiness with no sacrifice necessary.
Our non-consenual kiss, now in glorious COLOUR!

Our non-consensual kiss, now in glorious COLOUR!

  • That non-consensual kiss is so important that it needed to be repeated at the beginning of chapter 3 and in colour!
  • Sumi thinks, “You didn’t say anything about this!” when she slaps Soichirou for his kiss. Hm. I could have sworn that marriage was thought of as a binding agreement for exclusive sexual rights for the husband to his wife (marital rape didn’t exist until very recently in the law) or as an institution for child birth (and thus sanctioned sex) and child rearing until very recently. Hell even today the implicit idea between two people marrying is that they want to get it on officially. So the question is, what did she think Suichirou wanted from her when he asked her to marry him? And didn’t he technically buy her body back in chapter 1 when she was looking to sell? What the heck is she so surprised about?
  • And who saves the situation? Soichirou of course! Can’t have Sumi fix her own blunder now.
  • Suichirou covers for Sumi’s blunder by saying she was raised very traditionally. Oh so now you conveniently bring up historical accuracy to cover your tracks Hadashi? Weak.
  • Of course, our prince charming, Nozomu, is surrounded by a fan club of ladies. Historical fiction or not, we GOT to have that shoujo trope in there too! We’re aiming for most trope filled shoujo manga out there after all~
  • So the old ladies are making a big deal out of families and whatnot, which is reasonable, but the question is, why is Soichirou able to marry a Ms. Nobody?
  • Souichirou is furious with Sumi. She cries about it and he yells at her. He even threatens to kill her next time. See, I knew Hadashi wouldn’t disappoint me~ (Ok, ok, it’s played out in a slap stick sort of way, but still, it does go there).
  • Soichirou only realizes Sumi can’t read now. Looks like both our leads have been transposed from the modern era into the Menji era. Dude, Soichirou, of course the lowly peasants can’t read. What the heck were you thinking when you picked up a random chick off the streets that wanted to sell herself for money. >__>
  • And here it comes, sad past for the main hero that has caused him to become so cold and our dear heroine must defrost his heart with her tender motherly love.
  • So old gramps doesn’t care who his wife is, just that he has one? Ok I know he’s on his death bed, but this is Meiji era we’re talking about. Hell even today status means a lot.
  • And Soichirou wanted a wife so bad to inherit his grandpa’s estate? I’m sure there were plenty of families who would love to give their daughter to a young man with such high prospects, so why the heck did he settle for some random chick off the street. Man, this manga keeps getting better and better.
  • So Soichirou is all angry that Sumi gives off her origins and is disgusted with her. Uh, Soichirou? That’s what you get for picking up a chick that was selling herself for money. Of course she is in poverty, why else would she be out selling herself? Really what the heck were you expecting. Stupid dude.
  • Oh, but the author loses no opportunity to show us just how stupid Sumi is as well. She doesn’t even know what disgusted means. Infantile heroines are so cute after all, and we silly women can best identify with them after all.
  • Soichirou orders his butler to turn Sumi into a proper lady in one month. Um, Soichirou, I’m pretty sure if you weren’t going to marry for happiness, there would be a lot of less prosperous merchant’s daughters, who had enough rudimentary education, and whose family were ambitious enough to give you their daughter. Seriously dude, why did you pick up a random chick, who is obviously dirt poor, off the streets in the first place? What were you expecting? A high class ojou-sama! What era are you from?

The Silver Lining?

Hadashi continues to avoid having its heroine groped or sexually assaulted. Unfortunately, that’s the only good thing about this manga. I cannot take it seriously after this chapter where Soichirou is all shocked that Sumi is poor and uneducated. Really author really? A man in the Meiji era would expect a girl selling herself as a prostitute to know how to read or be slightly educated? She’s not a geisha. She was selling herself as a prostitute. Prostitutes weren’t educated. Soichirou has so many other options to get a women to marry him to fulfill the terms to inherit his grandpa’s property. It makes no sense that he would take some random girl off the streets as his bride. So utterly ridiculous.

Ranking: B

In the Meiji Era, Prostitutes are Educated Ladies. The sheer amount of nonsense from the premise is just amazing. I am simply blown away by the historical accuracy of this manga. A moe Sumi adds just the right amount of flavouring too. I can see we have a really good contender here. It may not be as upfront with its abuse as Black Bird and Suki Shite Sadist, but it surely has its heart in the right place.

The Beautiful Skies of Houou High

  • Yui loses no time in confirming that Kei does indeed stink. But we already knew this guy was a charmer.
I'm so jealous of Kei. I want such charming men in my reverse harem!

I’m so jealous of Kei. I want such charming men in my reverse harem!

  • Kei’s two reverse harem dudes are the most problematic students in the school. Lovely! Kousuke is ultra violent and Yui likes to blackmail people. This is shaping up to be one heck of a reverse harem!
  • And Yui trips Kei. Can’t forget to add a bit of abuse each chapter now.
  • Yui promises Kei he won’t peep at her while she takes a bath. Another considerate guy (just like Naoya from Suki Shite Sadist)!
  • Huh, Kei says she doesn’t want to be a boy, she just loves girls. Well, at least the author understands sexual preference isn’t linked to gender identity. Could this actually turn out not to be offensive?!
  • Unfortunately No. We then get this rich tidbit: “Have you ever thought about the pains of the guys whom you lump together, reject, and puke at, just because they were born of a different sex?” – Yui. Yes, because lesbians hate men and are sexually attracted to women as a way to spite men. You got it down, Ms.Aki! You really understand the psychology of lesbians. Those damn man haters!
  • Kei says she doesn’t know why she hates men, just that she feels uneasy and sick around men, but “that’s not a good enough reason for me to hurt others.” Yes, of course the problem here is the poor plight of these rejected and puked on men and not Kei’s problem. You have your priorities right Houou High!
  • Aw how sweet, Yui makes a promise that when Kei’s hatred of men is cured, he’ll “also try to (pretend to) fix [his] personality”. So Kei must fix her problem, but Yui just has to try or pretend to fix his? Brilliant!

The Silver Lining?

A better chapter than last time, but the framing of certain issues is still problematic. It’s nice that sexual preference isn’t being linked with a specific gender identification. I was worried that would happen given that the manga made it a point to tell us that Kei likes to wear “boy clothes”. Unfortunately, this one step forward is then followed by three steps back when Kei is made to feel bad about her sexual preference. Sure, I guess the author could mean that Kei needs to stop being afraid of men because that’s not good for her, but the way it is worded makes it seem like these guys that are getting rejected by her fear are the poor victims and not that Kei is the one that is suffering because of this deliberating fear. Not to mention this plays straight into the age old and very unfortunate troupe of lesbians are either afraid of men or man haters. Sigh.

Ranking: A-

Lesbians are Just Afraid of Men. Good job, Houou High! I knew you would totally turn this into corrective training for lesbians, and I absolutely love how you play into old stereotypes about lesbians. You really earned this A-!

The Devil Within

  • Huh, so Rion has to marry one of the reverse harem dudes because her dad and their dad want to unite their businesses. Ok, that makes better sense than last chapter’s “I need an heir”.
Nothing as hot as a forceful man, eh?

Nothing as hot as a forceful man, eh?

  • The ex-homeless dude, aka Koki, of the harem wants the perks of insane money and power so he wants Rion to marry him. And he’s quite forceful about it too.
  • But, Rion pushes him away by threatening him right back with “if you come any closer… I’ll eat you alive.” But Rion doesn’t seem aware of this “alternate personality” cause when elevator dude barges in, she is wondering what just happened.
  • Oh man, this manga is the best! The three reverse harem dudes are all real angels! Since Rion said she’d only marry “tenshi-kun” (what she calls her boy love interest), the boys showed her that they really are angels so she should have no problems marrying either one of them. Oh this manga is just so hilarious.
  • And of course our boy love interest comments on how loud that “stupid girl” is.

The Silver Lining?

So this manga is going to have a supernatural twist. I guess I should have seen that coming given it did run in Wings. This chapter was actually readable since not much happens outside of the really silly reveal that the three dudes are all angels, which I thought was really funny for the wrong reasons. I did like that Rion also stopped Koki by herself. The author could have easily made Somi save her like last time given that he appears not long after Koki’s aggressive sexual advances are shot down. Oh, the other thing that makes this manga funnier than it should be is that the pacing is really weird. Scenes switch randomly and go off in random directions. It’s very choppy and for some reason that makes it feel very B-movie-ish and funny. But I don’t expect the other chapters to remain as entertaining as this one given the setup.

Ranking: C+

Marry Me to Make Me Rich. This was a pretty weak chapter, Devil Within. Also, how could you deny us the opportunity to have Somi save Rion yet again?! You know that’s what makes for an interesting romance. But I’ll let it slide because you had the shota love interest call Rion stupid yet again and that just makes me swoon~

Overall Chapter 3 Rankings?!

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

I really liked Tonari’s chapter 3 and it continues to be the one good manga in this group. The Devil Within’s chapter 3 was pretty toned down and for the wrong reasons, I found it pretty hilarious, so I enjoyed it more than the rest on the list. The Beautiful Skies of Houou High was also toned down this chapter, but I really hate the framing of Kei’s problem. Not to mention it is going to play right into the “once lesbians are cured of their fear of men, they will like men again” idea. Hadashi is continuing to be a painful read because I cannot suspend my disbelief given how ridiculous the whole setup is and because the main leads aren’t that likeable (to me). Although Hadashi avoids tropes/elements that the final three have and that I personally find very questionable. Black Bird’s chapter 3 was a big disappointment to me. I was getting my hopes high that it wouldn’t be too bad, but chapter 3 is the chapter that made me realize why everyone has a problem with this manga. The little punishment incident was pretty brutal since Misao was crying her eyes out and the justification was not a justification at all. It just glamorized possessive men. That said, I still like Misao, just everything else is ugh. Suki Shite Sadist is second last because I was shocked and very taken aback that Shinjou was ok with calling everything by it’s proper name yet still framing it as hot and sexy. No, no, no, no, no. I can see the appeal in possessive love interests on a wish fulfilment level, but you do not call them what they are on that level. It’s not suppose to be possessiveness, it’s overwhelming love. I admit, the fact that Shinjou was ok with naming things as they are kind of creeps me out. Finally Hot Gimmick continues to be Hot Gimmick with Ryouki being a jerk and abusing Hatsumi and Hatsumi being written so passive that she won’t speak out against him. Worse? She even defends the guy this chapter. :(

–SW

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