27 December 2009

Hot Gimmick

Imagine a Japanese retelling of the Twilight series, set in a company apartment building, without the supernatural elements, and with two prominent suitors who, rather than willing to do anything to make life better for their heroine, bear intense malice towards her. You have imagined Aihara Miki's manga series Hot Gimmick, a boundary pushing, popular in Japan, edgy late teen romance. It isn't Hentai (cartoon porn), but only because it pulls its punches after coming perilously close. As the Wikipedia's entry on the series (linked above) explains: "it addresses several adult themes that are not entirely appropriate for younger readers; most pointedly, the normalization of an abusive relationship." The abusive relationship theme lurks, unspoken and alluded to in Meyer's Twilight, which features a heroine who frequently makes trips to the emergency room with concocted causes that are in fact related to her boyfriends.

Hot Gimmick is well told and drawn, although it can be uncomfortable reading (twelve volumes of manga worth).

I'm not sure that this story would be told in popular fiction in the United States. Part of the reason, I think, is the flaccid state of the American soap operas. Latin American telenovellas, and similar series in East Asia, end after a season or two, have reasonably tight plots and aren't quite as prone to absurdity and nods to convention as their American counterparts that run for decades with low production values and great indifference to plot holes. Many stories that belong in the genre are squeezed out of it by the floundering Titanic productions that dominate it, in America, but haven't found a home elsewhere. This is a pity, because complex, emotionally intense stories about relationships deserve a home.

No comments: