It’s part 2 of round 5 of SSS. In part 1, we saw that Black Bird and Sadist stuck with what they started in chapter 4. Tonari goes the same route and fails for the third time, which means it’s time for it to get kicked off this feature. Meanwhile, Hot Gimmick toys around with the idea of a more assertive Hatsumi, but ultimately doesn’t commit to giving her any character growth. Nonetheless, it results in a much more toned down chapter. From part 1,  Sadist also was quite tame (but incredibly boring) and only got a C+. Black Bird did manage a B- though; thanks to the super creepy behaviour from the rival love interest!

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun

Tonari really seems to want to push this taming animal thing on the volume covers, huh.

Tonari really seems to want to push this taming animal thing on the volume covers, huh.

 

  • Chapter 5 is the start of volume 2 of Tonari, and in keeping with the trend started in volume 1, volume 2’s cover features Haru on a leash. Whip him into shape good, Shizuku!
  • Not to be outdone by the other manga on this feature, Tonari has Shizuku strut her womminz skills by making Haru some fried rice.
  • Ah, Shizuku is so totally virginal that she gets all flustered when Haru walks around shirtless.
  • And once again let’s just remind the readers that Haru is so totally smarter than Shizuku by having him get first place on the tests.
  • Overdramatic heart-broken middle aged woman? Check!
  • Shizuku tells Haru to smile so people won’t be afraid of him since he glares all the time and suddenly he’s super popular and has a crowd of girls following him around. Oh come on Tonari! Not this cliche too.
  • Another violent outburst from Haru, but it’s a-okay cause he’s doing it to protect another girl.

The Silver Lining?

I think it’s time to take Tonari off this feature. While there are still some silly gendered cliches, like Shizuku getting all flustered by a shirtless Haru, most of the manga actively tries to avoid falling into the typical and/or problematic tropes. For one, even though Shizuku cooks for Haru, it isn’t conflated with being essential to being feminine. It takes up a page and there is no big bravo around her cooking unlike some of the other manga; nor is she doing it to be a good girlfriend/wife. She cooks because he’s hungry and it’s the hospitable thing to do. Likewise, Haru calls her a village grandma for being a good cook. It’s not being depicted as something that makes her desirable. It’s more that Shizuku just knows how to cook because that’s normal for girls in her society, which is quite refreshing given that it’s pretty much the truth. More importantly, during this violent outburst, Haru actually starts to realize that he is scaring people. His violence isn’t played out as desirable either, but something deeply problematic and something he needs to overcome. In fact, I quite like that the manga questions the viability and normality of someone who uses violence to solve problems. Not many manga do that in the first place. Given that most of the problematic things are either small instances, or are actively questioned, I do think Tonari really does not deserve all the flack it got. Expect a short post about my thoughts on the Tonari controversy and why I think most bloggers missed the forest for the trees. I may even keep up with Tonari (in terms of blogging about it because I will definitely continue reading it) or write a piece at the end about whether it did manage to avert all the problematic aspects via having Haru grow up.

Rating: F

Three Stikes and You’re Outtttttttt. For all the hubbub surrounding this title, it sure didn’t amount to anything. Disappointment. You’re out of the running now Tonari. Hope you’re happy!

Hot Gimmick

  • Oh here we go again, super duper smart male lead with a super dumb female lead. What is up with this setup? Is it not enough for the male to dominate sports and physical aspects? He’s got to be better at everything than the heroine? Ugh.
  • And to show us just how awesome Ryouki has always been, we get to see him abusing Hatsumi when they were kids. Our dear helpless heroine is also saved by Azusa as a child. Awwwwww.
  • It’s like these shoujo heroines only know how to apologize for everything even when it’s not their fault. *rolls eyes*
  • And now we have moping. Man, Hasumi is a real winner for best heroine on this feature.
  • Oh ho, Hatsumi says he’s gonna tell it how it is to Ryouki. I can’t wait to see just how pathetically she is going to fail, because let’s not kid ourselves, she couldn’t state a firm opinion even if her life depended on it.
  • If the previous bit wasn’t enough, the mangaka shows off just how much of a genius Ryouki really is now as a teenager. All his classmates ask him what the answers are on test were cause he is so smart that he is never wrong. Man, clearly his rotten personality is nothing as long as he can solve math problems!
  • So Ryouki tells his guy friend, who is asking whether he has a girlfriend and wants to join him in meeting up some girls, that he doesn’t have one but has a slave. Real smooth. And dude’s reply? Lend me her next time. Well I guess the slimeballs stick together?
  • OH MY GOD, Ryouki says he’ll lend out Hatsumi. I..I can’t. I can’t even. No words.
Women always attack each other when it comes to men.

Women are always horribly mean to each other when it comes to men.

  • And more of Hatsumi’s brilliant self-esteem. Also once again the female characters must be antagonistic to Hatsumi. Girls getting along with each other? HA, WE ARE ENEMIES FOREVER. I mean, how could you get friendly knowing other women are all competition for getting a man?
  • Azusa calls Hatsumi his girlfriend (and rescues her by the way) much to the shock and irritation of the other girls. Man, these awesome female to female relationships never get old!
  • So she tells Azusa the truth about her situation with Ryouki, but can’t tell him how she feels. Spineless women are best after all~
  • “Yes, I’m a wimp! I’m a coward! I’m hopeless” – Hatsumi. It’s great you realize that, but what are you going to do about it is the real question. Probably nothing at all because we can’t have a confident heroine. Nope.
  • And Azusa kisses her. See, Hatsumi can stay as spineless as she wants and she still will get the guys. No effort, just like in real life- Oh wait.

The Silver Lining?

Hatsumi is sort of getting a backbone. Although I doubt it will last. No more like I know it won’t, but re-reading this, I can see why I got hopeful and stuck around for as long as I did (six volumes). Her little proclamations give you just a smidgen of hope that she’s finally going to get out of the abusive relationship, only for those hopes to be dashed in the end. Sigh. Outside that, it’s a pretty meh chapter. The constant jealous girls beating up on Hatsumi and then having her be rescued by Azusa is getting real old. As is Hatsumi constantly beating herself up about her flaws, but doing nothing to fix them. Given how boring of a lead she is and how her character is the focus of this chapter, it makes for quite the boring read. Also, until I did this systemic analysis of Hot Gimmick, I never noticed just how horrible the female-to-female relations were in this manga. Hatsumi’s female classmates bully her for talking to Azusa, as do Azusa’s co-workers in this chapter. Then Ryouki’s tutor basically called her out to shove in her face that her “boyfriend” did all sorts of things with her, and even her sister Akane shows little to no concern for Hatsumi; often getting annoyed that her sister has the attention of two of the biggest heartthrobs. It’s really distressing that Ms.Aihara thought so little of female friendships. I mean, outside Tonari, none of the other manga feature female friendships (or at least ones that last for more than a panel or two and have names, like in the case of Black Bird and Devil Within), but at the same time, none go to such lengths to demonize interactions between the heroine and fellow ladies. Black Bird and Sadist only had a single antagonistic female character introduced so far. While Houou High had an unnamed lover back in chapter 1; and Hadashi hasn’t had any female characters outside of background noise (and the little girl Sumi took care of, but she doesn’t count given she is a little girl, and isn’t someone who could “threaten” Sumi’s status. On top of that, she basically doesn’t get much interaction with Sumi anyway). So it is really distressing seeing so much antagonism happening between Hatsumi and other ladies. Even her best friend is a guy, who also happens to have a crush on her (but he’s no rival cause he’s a wimpy nerd and we all know that these shoujo manga won’t take those kinds of characters seriously, and for shame because Subaru is the only decent love interest right now). Anyways, I’ve digressed too much, so I’ll leave it at that.

Raking: C

Fellow Women are our Worst Enemies! Yes, Hot Gimmick, thank you for confirming once more that there is no such thing as female friendship because women are too busy fighting amongst ourselves for the hot guys. But please stop trying to give Hatsumi a backbone. The spineless passive heroines are clearly the best. I mean super heartthrob Ryouki fell for the passive Hatsumi, who does not talk back to him, and he clearly knows best!

–SW

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