The rankings so far from best to worst: Hot Gimmick with an A, Suki Shite Sadist with an A-, Black Bird with a B+, and finally Tonari no Kaibutsu with an F.

Hadashi de Bara wo Fume

  • As per shoujo tradition, we must now have Sumi sulk about how Soichirou called her a poor girl and disgusting. To add an extra oomph though, Hadashi has Sumi say he’s scary. Just sulking isn’t enough, she got to find him scary too!
  • Thinking about the oh so inspirational words of her knight (aka Nozumu), “You must not cry again. Because a smile will always bring happiness to you, okay?” Riiiiight. Not like, oh I don’t know, striving for something or having loved ones brings you happiness. Nope all you need to do is smile. You know, maybe I’m crazy here, but don’t you smile when you are happy and not the reverse?
  • When Soichirou enters her room, Sumi is all bewildered about why he is in there. Yes, more of this awesome historical accuracy again.
  • She wants to sleep on the floor? Well she can’t cause Soichirou is running this show and he forcefully picks her up and places her on the bed. Oh and we have to have this one tense moment where Sumi thinks Soichirou is going to force himself on her, but really all he’s doing is checking whether she has her night gown on backwards. See, I knew Hadashi wouldn’t miss putting in some rape-y undertones somehow!
  • More threats from Soichirou about throwing her into the sea. Granted these are written in a way that is lighthearted, but it sure doesn’t look like Sumi thinks they are empty threats, and that’s what counts, I feel.
Hadashi - female skills

The only important thing for a wife is cooking. Good wife, good cook/servant.

  • Hahahaha, oh god. OF COURSE! Of course this manga must have silly naive little Sumi go down to the kitchen in the morning to strut her WOMINZ SKILLS. And of course her food is absolutely A-MAZING. But cold Soichirou orders to throw it out cause proper ladies don’t cook. They have other ladies do that for them.
  • I absolutely adore how Hadashi is only playing up historical accuracy when it makes Sumi look like a god damn idiot. Can’t have her any more moe if you tried, honestly!
  • Oh god, come on Hadashi, why must you constantly degrade your heroine’s mental faculties. Uh, honest to god this manga is seriously pissing me off.
  • I love how her brother is all ok with his younger sister making money in god knows what way. No remorse, no nothing really. This manga couldn’t make him into more of a jerk if it tried. And I see he is just as “responsible” as before. Siiiiiigh.
  • Another non-consensual kiss, damn Hadashi is on fire and it came out of nowhere, literally! Soichirou just grabs Sumi as she wonders if she can do anything and kisses her. Damn this is romantic!
  • Oh ho, but he’s doing it cause she needs to get “used to it” and stop being afraid of him. Why yes, forcing someone to kiss you is clearly going to make them feel less threaten by you. Brilliant!
  • Man the standards keep falling. Sumi just needs Soichirou to call her by her name to make her feel better about him. Clearly you know someone is a real catch if they call you by name instead of referring to you as ‘you’.
  • Ugh, more stupidity from Sumi. She’s all surprised that a “Mr.Nicola” is a foreigner. HELLO HIS NAME ISN’T JAPANESE, THAT’S JUST FREAKEN LOGIC. IFGHFLKDNFGKDN. The “oh but he could have a foreign father” excuse doesn’t even work here cause MEIJI ERA. How much more stupid is this manga going to paint her, honestly?!
  • Of course she has to get all scared when the foreigner kisses her hand and of course we need Soichirou to call her “dummy”.
  • Enter Nozumu cause man oh man we NEED that sort of drama: her being married to his best friend but secretly pining for him.

The Silver Lining?

Recall how the single good thing about Hadashi was that it didn’t throw in any rape or sexual assault into its story? Well that one good thing that Hadashi was holding onto is now gone. Yeah, sure, Soichirou didn’t intend to do anything to her, but come on, the author purposely drew it in a way that added in rape subtext. It could have easily been avoiding if Soichirou just asked her if she put her nightgown on backwards. Plus, come on, he grabs the front of her nightgown without saying a word and pulls it down to look if the tag is there and in the process exposes her breasts and that isn’t meant to be seen as rape subtext? Yeah, yeah, it hasn’t gone where Suki Shite Sadist has, but given that Sadist is looking like the worst manga here, that’s not saying anything at all. This manga would not have been as bad as it is, if it just didn’t infantilize Sumi to such an excessive and unbelievable degree. But doing so, it just makes everything so much worse because she acts so passive and dumb. Plus, I think we have enough infantile females thanks to the moe phenomenon so no free pass Hadashi!

Ranking: A-

It’s not Rape, it’s just Rape Subtext! Bravo Hadashi, you have made it into the big leagues by finally giving us some rape subtext. Also, you are continuously degrading your heroine’s mental faculties and you make me so proud by doing so! Who needs a woman that can think for herself? Not me! And clearly, there just isn’t enough moe in the world already, we need more! You may never go as low as Black Bird or Sadist, but by goodness, you are trying just as hard while remaining PG-13 and for that you have my eternal respect.

The Beautiful Skies of Houou High

  • Of course, rough and tough Koukuke has a hidden tender side. In this case, he likes cute bunny things but is too embarrassed to admit it to anyone but Kei (since he saw her wearing a bunny shirt under her uniform last chapter).
  • Ah, my mistake, Koukuke isn’t rough and tough, that’s just the vibe he gives off. Well well, looks like this chapter isn’t off to such a bad start.
  • Ah but good mean old Yui is here to fill the jerk quota. He purposefully lets out Kei’s secret to Koukuke (even though Kei clearly does not want him to) just to spin an outrageous lie to Koukuke. The latter swallows it hook, line, and sinker.

The Sliver Lining?

Wow, this chapter actually wasn’t half bad. If the anti-lesbian angle wasn’t included, I could have totally gotten on board with Kei/Koukuke. Also the two new characters at the end, the boardman called them boys, but they looked like girls. I’m kind of confused and mildly worried if this won’t play into some questionable tropes now. Well, future chapters will tell, I guess?

Ranking: F

Wait, Violent Dude isn’t Violent? No Way! Sigh, not one but two failures in this round now. How could it come to this? Houou, you should have kept Koukuke as a crazy violent jerk. This change is not acceptable. You’ve still got Yui, so I’m not counting you out just yet, but you better not do what Tonari did and give me another F next time.

The Devil Within

  • So after seeing the wings of her three reverse harem dudes, Rion runs away in disbelief and heads over to Tenshi-kun’s place. His response to her? “Shut up, stupid girl. I’m taking a dump and going to bed.” Taking a dump. I never thought I’d see the day that someone would actually make a character say it. whahaha.
  • Lovely, Tenshi-kun seems more worried about the cat than Rion.
  • So Tenshi-kun is shirtless and Rion gets a nose bleed. I find it strangely amusing that this manga has gender reversed the creepy behaviour.
  • When Rion tells him Koki is an angel, he thinks she’s crazy and starts patronizing her. Mean love interests sure are in, aren’t they?
  • Honestly this manga really has pacing issues. Tenshi-kun is going to take a bath and Rion just runs into him and starts crying. It’s really jarring. And then she falls asleep. Yeah.
  • Some more creepy (unconscious) behaviour from Rion. She won’t let go of Tenshi-kun while sleeping. Tenshi-kun mentions he could move her if he were an adult. Old aged shota excuse confirmed!
  • Another “stupid girl” from our love interest and oh man, he’s all grown up. Even his clothes have grown with him. What the?!
devil within - some condition

See guys, it’s totally ok, he’s really 15!

  • Ah, false alarm. He’s back to his shota self now. But wait for it, he’s really 15, but “because of some condition I caught while I was five…I stopped growing.” Some condition. SOME CONDITION. BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Oh my goodness, this is rich. Yes, leave it all vague like that cause of course there is no sensible explanation for this.
  • Dear Rion won’t have any of this. She refuses to believe him cause then he’d be her age and a devil and she only wants them little boys.
  • Oh but see here. This is going to be the force that drives the two together. Tenshi-kun wants Rion to stay with him now in case she is the key to getting him back to normal. He even asks her out (to which Rion agrees) and then they kiss. Aw, so cute. Clearly these two love each other so much. It’s not like Tenshi just needs her for some goal, oh wait-

The Silver Lining?

It’s so ridiculous it’s funny? No, not a good answer? Well then, I guess there isn’t much else to redeem this chapter. Forced romance and pretty mediocre plot is pretty much how I feel about this manga. Even putting aside the questionableness of the main love interest, there just isn’t really anything all that good here. It could have been a mediocre, mildly problematic romance, but including shota elements puts it into a far more questionable position. I guess one could appreciate the gender swapped creeper (if it was actually played as a bad thing), but since it’s not, it’s just a little quirk. I get the feeling that the author was trying to give Rion a personality but couldn’t really muster one so instead she decided, “let’s make her into a hardcore shotacon, that will give her the personality she lacks and it will make for some funny jokes!” Oh granted, this manga has its amusing moments, but I dare say it’s not the ones the author was aiming for.

Ranking: B

Let the Shota Love Bloom! Good work Devil Within. Not only are you making the main love interest a total irredeemable jerk that just using Rion for his purposes, but he’s also a little boy. Two tropes for the price of one! What’s not to like? And your rationalization for this sort of romance being ok is so totally justifiable. He’s not really 8, he just stopped physically aging cause well “some condition”. Totally justified!

Overall Chapter 4 Rankings?!

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

Ranking these was so hard this time outside a few exceptions. Tonari is continuing to actually be a manga I would read so I had no problems placing it at number 1. Meanwhile Sadist’s framing alone has unsettled me so much that no other manga could earn the final spot. Everything else was harder to place. In the end, my enjoyment of Hot Gimmick and Hadashi is pretty low due to how submissive and infantile their respective heroines are and if I had to pick which is worse, I’d say Hatsumi and Hot Gimmick because Sumi still seems to have a smidgen of a backbone left in her, whereas Hatsumi has absolutely none. Devil Within is by no means as problematic as Black Bird, but honestly it is written in such a boring dry manner and the characters are so unlikable that I actually enjoyed it less than Black Bird! Black Bird has Misao, who I actually don’t mind and even like at certain points in the story and she is honestly the only thing keeping Black Bird at third place this chapter. Finally Houou High had a total turnabout this chapter. It actually framed Koukuke as a sensitive and likeable guy. Only problem that continues to plague Houou High is the anti-lesbian angle.

–SW

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