All I have time to do these days are book reviews. Well, the quake also put a damper on the anime industry, and I’m not so up for writing about stuff, anyway. And thus I come to #3 of Book Reviews of Inconsequence. Today, I’ll write about something with a Nikkei angle.
猟奇博士と生贄娘ドクター＆ドーター (Bizarre Scientist and Live Experiment Girl) Doctor and Daughter by Youkihi
Now, to be absolutely sure you know, Youkihi isn’t quite child safe. That said, his stories often range from the impossible to phantasmic. Who else can come up with a story about one lone high school boy that one day wakes up to find everyone in the world fast asleep (he alone has the power to wake women up, with sex). This is also the same man that wrote a series of short stories and anthologized them in a series called えっちーず (eʧíːz in English. Yes, he wrote his Romanized title in IPA to ensure that no one mispronounced it), which are about young loser boys getting lucky in love in improbable situations such as, a pair of twins that share their consciousness; their bodies, while separate, share a single consciousness which makes their incestuous relationships become masturbation in their case.
I really like his work. It’s so weird. Doctor & Daughter is just the same, and this isn’t exactly NC-17 adult material either (I’d give it an R).
What really stood out for me, though, was the main character’s mother. Annie Weaver Shiga is specifically noted as a Sansei Japanese American. What’s perhaps the most intriguing in this series, as with his other works, is Youkihi’s strange attention to random detail. This man is oddly specific on character development, and it intrigues me that he has specifically chosen a Nikkei woman as Ayano’s mother, even if she has been dead for at least a decade.
That’s what really sets Youkihi’s characters apart from others: depth.
Whereas a normal mixed-race character in Japan is a 50-50 split in blood and has an overtly Westernized appearance to appeal to the “foreign,” Annie’s character plays more on the fact that she just didn’t grow up in Japan before meeting her husband to be. It’s little things like this that really help breathe life into even the most auxiliary of characters without making it overbearing to the story as a whole.
Youkihi’s concept of layout in comic art is exceptional. Though somewhat busy at times, he keeps the pages easy to read and clear in flow. While perverted in nature, he isn’t overbearing so as to keep the story going.
What really puts some people off is the anatomy of his characters. Most of his characters are rail-thin. I wouldn’t be as bothered by this, but seeing as his trademark is in erotic situations, his characters have a high likelihood of ending up naked.
The story follows Ayano Shiga, a normal 14-year-old girl, and her not so normal self-proclaimed bio-engineer father. Her mother Annie had passed away in an accident years preciously, leaving the eccentric father to parent Ayano with his strange experiments. The story starts with young Ayano waking up one day to a new physical appendage between her legs…
Her father, knowing how dangerous it is to let his only daughter run loose in a world full of predators, attached an anti-rape ferret-like life form to her groin to ward off any would be sexual predators. His biological apparatus allows him to find gainful employment (because apparently this was seen as a good idea by more than one person).
Meanwhile, Ayano is discovering her romantic side of life, her normally quiet boyfriend is starting to feel lucky, and her cousin and next door neighbor Misaki is looking more and more an object of desire. Ayano finds herself conflicted by her sudden introduction into the terribly awkward life-stage of adolescence.
Corporate conspiracy, sexual tension and adorable ferrets, how can you go wrong?
Freshness: Crisp as lettuce
Youkihi’s art style hasn’t changed considerably since the early 90s, but his style has polished itself to be more in line with modern manga aesthetics. He is fairly tone-heavy though, which is a relic of late-90s and early 2000 style.
Cost: 533 yen
Not going to lie, this book cost me $10, special order, at Kinokuniya. That’s like double the yen price. (I live in the 1990s when $1=100yen). This book isn’t readily available in the States, and so you’ll need a specialty bookstore to order it for you, or spend a little extra an order it on Amazon Japan.
Will it be translated?: Do little kids like brussel sprouts?
The likely translator for this series will fall upon Viz Media, as they have a good relationship with Shougakukan. Chances are, they’ll sooner license a comic series that isn’t bordering soft-core pornography. Then again, Viz Signature features some good works, so there is hope.
If it’s any help, Youkihi’s works have been translated into various East Asian and Pacific Asian languages, so he is viable to be translated for foreign audiences.
Flash Summary: Mad-scientist father knows best.
Tomo Hirai is a Shin-Nisei Japanese American lesbian trans woman born in San Francisco and raised in Walnut Creek, Calif., where she continues to reside. She attended the San Francisco Japanese Hoshuko (supplementary school) through high school and graduated from the University of California, Davis with degrees in Communications and Japanese, along with a minor in writing. She serves as a diversity consultant for table top games and comic books in her spare time.