A seinen ecchi psychological manga about bdsm that delivers on its ecchi but lacks any message and is finally ruined by its rushed ending.
This manga had a pretty good start. It all starts with our self-insert protagonist Kakikuchi, an elementary school kid like looking 22 year old loser groping a cute sternlooking high-school girl called Madoka on a train (unlike the other Madoka who is an excuse for misery porn this Madoka is an excuse for actual porn). Madoka does the most natural thing in this situation and nonchalantly sticks a pin in his hand while monologuing about how no matter what kind of life one has lived one must not end up scum like that. They go to a police box nearby and as the police are taking his details a dildo falls out of Kikakuchi’s bag. Next Madoka does the most natural thing ever and retracts her charges against Kakikuchi saying that it was a misunderstanding, follows Kakikuchi to his home where he is rubbing his crotch against the crotch of a doll. And the next day she naturally moves in to live with him until he makes him a doll of her.
Obviously the premise of this show is an empowerment fantasy for losers, with that in mind one must look at how plausibly plays out. Given the parameters the two main characters act in a mostly plausible.
The protagonist is a short guy and I enjoyed (for obvious reasons) seeing how Madoka was drawn looking down at the protagonist and the viewer. In case you are wondering Madoka is the sadist and Kikakuchi the masochist.
The two main characters were not the issue it was the two side-characters who were plot devices used to engineer an ending.
The root of the unsatisfactory ending is the unnecessary conflict introduced half-way through the characters of a temporary teacher (another overused setup like that of ‘the transfer student’) who is a one-dilmensional evil sexual predator and of Madoka’s classmate and friend who has fallen in love with that teacher. There was no need for an external conflict but the author added one anyway and a bad one at that. Fortunately the evil sexual predator teacher is not used to make Kakikuchi look noble in comparison. In fact in one scene Kakikuchi waits to save the girl from rapist sensei because he wanted to see the teacher defile Madoka, or in his words to Madoka ‘he brings out the most beautiful in you.’ The few points it does make about how beautiful things become even more beautiful when they are defiled in various ways is made well, it is both shown and told a few times but no one time feels like a climax of beauty – they just seem like different variations. The message if any that it does make about how beautiful things become even more beautiful is made well, it is both shown and told a few times but no one time feels like a climax of beauty – they just seem like different variations of defiling that beautiful thing.
The problem with this show is that it assumes that everyone is secretly a sexual pervert and there is no challenging of the views of the two main characters. A lot of seinen fall into a similar category where they are so drenched in cynicism it becomes hard to take it seriously. Both Madoka and Kakikuchi come from sad backgrounds but that only explains it, it doesn’t excuse its characters from being that way. Thankfully the sad and tragic background isn’t used as a way to garner sympathy for the characters – that would have made this unreadable but I must add that the tragic backgrounds of the characters feel generic (not that I am saying that they should ideally be weirdly specific). It’s just that I would have preferred if their characters were just as warped as they are without it being caused by some trauma. That would have made them more relatable, not that relatable means necessarily good, but given that these are self-insert protagonists
Despite being an ecchi series Ibitsu is not a comedy and that is a double-edged sword, on the one hand it makes it easier to not dismiss the perverted things the characters do and therefore the characters themselves as jokes. This enables the reader to take the story seriously. It is a hard to take the dramatic moments of a story seriously if it continuously ridicules its own characters by making them take part in gags (the only example of a tragic ending to a comic story that did not succumb to this tone whiplash that I can think of is the ending of Blackadder- but even then imagine for a moment what if the characters returned for more gags? The reason that it worked perhaps is because of the context) but on the other hand it comes off as edgy and vacuous. Edgy because the characters, especially Madoka often speak as if they are saying the truth about life is being perverted or something – and all it does is make the characters look stupid.
The psychological aspect of the show is too vague. The two main characters gradually do begin to care about each other but I wouldn’t call this a romance nor would I call it character development. The characters never break out of their narrow shells of selfishness but this is not necessarily a bad thing – I am tired of stories about characters turning a new leaf and about characters sucuumbing deeper into their flaws. What you have here is just stagnation. The problem is perhaps then is that it is drawn out too long? The mangaka tried to make up for this by escalating the perversion but after a certain point it just became mundane and almost unnoticeable. As @thatanimesnob bluntly as always put it after you have seen enough camel toe you stop noticing it. I wanted there either to be something more or for it to come to an end like it does often in hentai doujin – implying that the new perverted sexual status quo will go on indefinitely. Instead the themes are frozen infavour of drama and the worst kind of plot device in manga – misunderstandings and ignoring the obvious solution in front of their eyes. If they had just contacted the police that teacher would have just gone to prison, especially when there is video evidence of his crimes.
The metaphor of Kakiguchi creating a doll similarly goes nowhere. I could of course come up with my own interpretation and claim that it is ‘subtly shown’ and ‘not told’ but that would be me just using the manga as a trampoline to project my own views. Sometimes a pipe is just a pipe. Sometimes smut is just smut. It could have been a manga about something rather than just a sequence of fetishistic scenes brought about by a flimsy premise and held together by an erratic plot.
The question is, would you like to be bullied by a cute high school girl?(Sounds almost like a light novel title) Admittedly the appeal of all tsundere characters hinges on that especially where there is more tsun than dere.
The art style is okay. Even if the emphasis is more on the characters the backgrounds are sufficiently detailed and it doesn’t feel like the panels are unnecessarily left empty (that is mainly a problem that Shoujo’s have). The character art style too isn’t super detailed but when necessary the mangaka knows how to draw semi-realistic but still stylized – it’s a seinen that still kind of looks like a shonen(especially the faces) and the heights of the girls though not reaching Shoujo uncanny-levels of heights can look quite tall. The panelling is nothing to talk about but no space was wasted and nothing looked confusing either. I don’t like sound effects and thankfully not too many of them were used in the sexy/disgusting scenes.
I give this manga a 4 out of 10. It had potential to be a psychological analysis of the two characters if it played out its improbable premise in a plausible way without introducing a one-dimensional evil villain midway for the sake of having an obvious conflict and a conclusion. The reason that I didn’t give it a lower score is that Madoka didn’t suddenly become a sweet girl and Kakikuchi didn’t suddenly suddenly become a heroic guy with boyscout ideals. The reason that I gave it a below average score is for its rushed ending.
Sundome (manga): A seinen psychological ecchi romance tragi-comedy about bdsm by the same author of Ibitsu. Much better than Ibitsu as a story but there is less ecchi in it unfortunately. It has a somewhat coherent message. It has ecchi (though less Ibitsu, it has still got quite a bit of it). The sexual humour does make things appear more flakey but (just as in blackadder) the tragic part was kept to the end. Sundome suffers from the opposite problem of Ibitsu when it comes to its ending: while in Ibitsu’s ending came out of nowhere and felt like a slap in the face, Sundome’s ending was foreshadowed so much that I expected something different (to be fair it’s not that bad because it is not a mystery manga. In ‘Erased’ a mystery manga something similar happens where there’s only one suspect and it turns out that that one suspect was the culprit which was immensely disappointing because there was never any mystery or any cleverness – the atmosphere was all a deception – I really don’t like shows that think subverting expectations makes them clever – I am looking at you Katanagatari).
Nana to Kaworu (manga): Another ecchi romance comedy about bdsm but this time unlike Ibitsu and Sundome it is not a seinen but a Shonen. Therefore it suffers from many pitfalls of romance in Shonen, mainly that the romance doesn’t go anywhere. It also tried to escalate the level of perversion but unfortunately it was bound by its shounen audience and therefore unable to escalate things sexually any further. It progression just plateaud half-way and delivered on neither its romance nor on its ecchi. It did however have a message of sorts – even though it is told to the protagonist and the audience rather than shown and I am not sure the protagonist changed that much afterwards either – or in other words it felt even more episodic than Ibitsu because of it very long length. The art (especially the background art) is objectively of a better quality than in Ibitsu but its shonen-like stylized character art made it somehow less sexier. That said I don’t want to make it sound like its one of those manga where the backgrounds take the forefront to the point where the characters are secondary. It’s just that the backgrounds in Nana to Kaworu are neat and yet mundane so they don’t get in the way of the story but don’t add anything either.
Sadly another trap (no not the kind that makes you feel gay) that Nana to Kaworu falls into is to have an evil rapist as a villain to make the protagonist more sympathetic. This time it is even worse because the character design of the rapist is even similar to that of the protagonist and while the protagonist is a loser, the bad guy is a successful guy. Talk about patting in the back too much a certain crowd. Not only is this manipulation it makes the fight between good and evil between different characters rather than within characters. Ibitsu narrowly avoids this by making Kakikuchi a voyeur in one of rapist sensei’s voyeuristic games.
Another issue that makes Nana to Kaworu worse is that it can often feel more like a bunch of soft-core bdsm family friendly tutorials. There are way too many bdsm gadgets introduced like one would introduce a special ray gun in a sci-fi manga if you know what I mean. They are going out of their way to introduce everything like they would to a rookie before doing anything and that sort of detracts from the atmosphere of the whole situation. There are less bdsm gadgets in Ibitsu although Kakikichu does work at a bdsm store and while that may detract from the variety of fetishes in Ibitsu it also means that Ibitsu doesn’t feel like an infomercial for bdsm culture and accessories. A very similar problem plagues sports manga that come off like propaganda about how good it is to live in communism, I mean, about how the game that they are playing is the best thing ever.
Notes: By the way there is another manga called Ibitsu by another author which has nothing to do with this manga. If you are gonna read this search for ‘Ibitsu by Okada Kazuko.’
I tried to translate the title of the manga into English through google translate and apparently, it means ‘irritation.’ Personally I am glad that I didn’t know the title of the series which is why I always try to use the Japanese titles of anime&manga (I don’t know Japanese). The way I see it the title of a piece of fiction is external to the story itself. The title is a more a piece of marketing and even when it has thematic relevance to the story I feel that it will corrupt my impressions of the story especially if I see it before reading the story. Having said all this, the only thing in the title that this may relate to in the story is that Madoka is constantly irritated by being surrounded by ‘scum’ basically perverts although she is definitely one herself.
There’s a film adaptation but honestly I don’t think that they can adapt 63 chapters of soft-core porn effectively into a movie. I haven’t watched so I don’t know how good or bad it is. A better way to adapt it would have been a series in which episode covered one of Madoka’s perverted acts per episode because that is how the manga goes. But that of course would cost money and I doubt that such a perverted series could air on TV. Maybe what the world needs now is a netflix for porn.
‘Why read Ecchi rather than Hentai?’ is a question I have seen thrown around a lot. Well, to put it bluntly there is some downtime after you, nay I, well after most of us guys orgasm but with ecchi it’s much easier to be at a sort of excited edge. It also helps that there is usually some room for characterization and a story in there so there’s the excitement at seeing the romance progressing somewhere although to frank it usually means nowhere if it’s harem- come to think of it it’s a long time I haven’t watched harem- the last one I watched was Muyo Tenchi Universe.