February 2007

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Eureka Seven

Love is in the air, and so are missiles that are hell-bent on annihilating the Corallians.

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Book of the Month - December 2006

Kashimashi ~Girl Meets Girl~

Volume 1

Hentai game enthusiasts have probably seen this setup before, or something a little bit like it. Osaragi Hazumu is an ordinary boy, just getting over a rejection from the girl he has a thing for...then a UFO clobbers him upside the head and rebuilds him with new XX chromosomes. Yep.

As high concepts go, you could call it highly silly, but the rest of Kashimashi shows more creativity and skill. Wisely, the strip uses the alien angle for nothing more than screwball comic relief. The serious parts of the story follow Hazumu’s life and the way her new gender affects her existing relationships.

Specifically, the hook is that now that he’s a she, she’s suddenly getting a lot more action from the women in her life. Her tomboyish friend Tomari suddenly develops a fierce protective streak, while Yasuna—who turned down the XY Hazumu’s confession—has a secret that might mean she’d answer differently now.

Inevitably, there’s a certain amount of voyeuristic appeal here. Kashimashi ran in a teenage boys’ anthology (Dengeki Daioh, which also played host to Gunslinger Girl of all things), and it’s occasionally very easy to tell what sort of audience it was aiming for. It’s no surprise to see that one of the first volume’s chapters chronicles Hazumu’s outing to buy new underwear.

If it’s sometimes kind of obvious, though, it’s never crass or lurid, and there are lots of laughs to fit between scenes that might otherwise build up too much angst. Yukimaru Katsura’s artwork has an easy, gentle style that proves equally adaptable to comedy or drama.

The English edition, produced by Seven Seas Entertainment, features what you might call a very “fan-focused” translation. The script leaves the Japanese honorifics alone, as well as a lot of the Japanese wordplay. For instance, one of Hazumu’s alien caretakers calls her “onee-nii-sama”—in other words, she’s mashing the terms of address meaning “brother” and “sister” together. Rather than come up with an English alternative, Seven Seas left in the original gag.

That may seem like taking the easy way out, but nowadays it’s probably safe to assume a high level of literacy from manga readers. Meanwhile, the technical aspects of the English version are perfectly fine—Seven Seas did an excellent job of lettering the dialogue and “subtitling” the Japanese sound effects.

Readers expecting a more explicit yuri girl-love comic (along the lines of some of Digital Manga’s recent releases) probably ought to look elsewhere. This is a low-key, PG-rated love story that happens to keep all the guys on the sidelines. For fans of more mainstream romantic productions, it’s a neat twist on the traditional love-triangle formula, and a charming alternative to boys meeting girls.

—David F. Smith

Puns Within Puns

The title “Kashimashi” is a word meaning “noisy” or “uproarious”—there’s a saying that that’s what you get when more than two girls meet together. However, the story’s also set in the city of Kashima (“Kashima-shi” in Japanese), and “Kashimashi Musume” happens to be the name of a famous female comedy and music trio.

COVER

  • Available: December 2006
  • Publisher: Seven Seas Entertainment
  • Rating: Older Teen
© SATORU AKAHORI - YUKIMARU KATSURA 2005