The Spring 2018 Manga Guide
World's End Harem
What's It About?Scientist Reito Mizuhara gets dire news that he's contracted a disease for which there is no current cure. He take the opportunity to confess to his long-time crush and childhood friend Elisa before he goes into a cryogenic sleep.
The doctors promise that he'll awaken in three to five years when a cure is found, but the world is much, much different when Rei finally wakes up. The MK virus has wiped out the male population, women have established a de facto government to deal with the population crisis. Rei, he's told, is only one of five men remaining and immune to MK virus.
Naturally, he's quickly enrolled in the repopulation effort where he'll have to mate with as many fertile women as possible to save the world. World’s End Harem was published in April by Ghost Ship, Seven Seas' mature label, and it retails for $12.99.
Is It Worth Reading?Rebecca Silverman
As far as distasteful premises go, you don't get much worse than sexual assault in the name of “science.” World End Harem is walking a very fine line with this – technically protagonist Reito isn't being forced to have sex (or “mate” in the story's parlance) because no one has forcibly had actual intercourse with him, but there are several scenes of women doing their damnedest on that front. All of them feature Reito being kissed and touched as he actively says no, and the fact that he's male and is being propositioned by women does not negate the fact that this is really uncomfortable. It's not even as if he's willing but trying to hold himself back – he's vocally expressed that he has zero interest in being used as a stud for a world newly devoid of men.
That's why all of these ladies suddenly find Reito so irresistible, incidentally. Shortly after Reito entered cryogenic sleep with a then-incurable disease, the male population of Earth was almost entirely wiped out by a virus. With 99.9% of the people left female, reproduction basically halted. Since artificial insemination doesn't work because plot, that means that men in cryosleep have to be cured and awoken, the better to sex it up with the increasingly desperate ladies of Earth. Honestly, it sounds more like a D-grade science fiction movie plot than anything. That's why author LINK does deserve some credit, because he really does try to give the story a leg to stand on, albeit a shaky one. Reito is granted a month to find the woman he was in love with before all of this, Elisa, and there is an attempt to explain why sexual reproduction is the only viable option. The art also does a decent job of giving all of the women slightly different figures, which lessens the very specific wish-fulfillment feel a little bit.
As part of Seven Seas' relatively new Ghost Ship line of mature books, this is fairly explicit. There's only one full-on sex scene (largely consensual), and it certainly isn't hentai level, but still a lot more than you'd see in most comparable books. Reito is a sympathetic hero at this point, ready to put his brain rather than his penis to use to try and save the world, so hopefully he'll be allowed to remain so. This isn't likely to be an appealing story if you're not a fan of uncomfortable encounters passed off as hijinks or the harem genre in general, and it hits more sour notes than good ones overall.
World’s End Harem is part of Seven Seas' newly minted “Ghost Ship” label for hentai-adjacent titles. Is there a plot? Sure, there's some futuristic sci-fi set-up by that's all in service to get our hero in between the sheets with as many voluptuous, feral women as possible. Reito doesn't want to though, he's holding out for Elisa who has disappeared in the ensuing chaos. This leads to plenty of less-than-consensual situations as every woman Reito encounters attempts to jump him like she's in heat. Showering, walking down the street, even holding a conversation is enough to cause nearby women to break into sweats.
Five years was also enough to transform the fashion industry nothing but lace-up, pleather biker wear.
I could chastise what is essentially spank material for treating women like uncontrollably horny cattle, its disproportionate top heavy character designs, and its giant stack of plot conveniences to create its silly premise. I could, and it's certainly enough to keep me away from any further volumes. But again, this is basically porn with a barely serviceable plot and I'm not really prepared to argue why you should or should not get off to giant smushy lady boobs smothering all over some dude's face. You either want to be smothered by giant boobs belonging to personalty-handicapped women or you don't. If you don't, well, there's porn for everything so go ahead and find something that suits you better. If you do, well, I don't really get the appeal but this here checks that box, so there you go.
World’s End Harem makes no bones about existing for the purpose of showing off plenty of naked women in and out of sexual situations, though it has an interesting enough dystopian hook. A world without men would indeed treat the few remaining men as something of a treasure and prioritize conception of new babies, though it's awfully convenient that for no scientific reason in particular IVF doesn't work but natural conception does. Mizuhara makes for as good a hero as one could hope for in this scenario, not eager to take advantage of the situation he finds himself in (unlike the “First Man” to be awakened, Hino), still in love with his missing long-time crush (who reciprocated his feelings before his deep sleep), and more concerned with finding a cure for the disease that wiped out most men in order to save the other men left in deep sleep, and thus offer the world a greater chance at repopulation. The women who round out the secondary cast are less empathetic. Suou, his “caretaker,” is robotic, and his sister is bubbly on the verge of annoying. His nurse and bodyguard are both flat as characters, but Hino is certainly memorable, presenting something of an antagonist. (He hasn't done too much yet, but he certainly wouldn't be happy if Mizuhara manages to save the other few million men left.)
Characters and bizarre premise aside, there are a few unavoidable things readers should be aware of going in—though they're not unheard of in the erotic genre. First, the issue of consent is hardly addressed. Both Mizuhara and in one instance a woman have people throw themselves at them while they're clearly shouting “no” several times. In Mizuhara's case, the sexual assault stops; in the woman's, it doesn't, even though yes, she does know going in that it won't. That doesn't stop her from being uncomfortable. These situations can be triggering for some. Secondly, the vast majority of women are unrealistically proportioned to an unintentionally (?) comic degree. Their bodies could hardly support those curves, and their giant, floppy bare breasts are drawn in practically every angle imaginable.
Shono's art is laughable when it comes to the female form, but it's not unskilled, so the way-too-voluptuous women are clearly an intentional choice. The designs of the (few) men so far are average, and the backgrounds are almost entirely confined to a futuristic, sterile laboratory-type environment. The setting gives the proceedings a sterile feel, but that perfectly suits the tone.
World’s End Harem volume 1 (for ages 18+) is not for everyone and even those who go into it expecting some erotic scenes should be aware of the issues concerning consent and the ludicrous proportions on women's bodies. There's a sliver of an interesting story behind what's clearly an excuse to showcase sexual encounters, but it looks like it will take quite a few erotic detours to make any progress with Mizuhara's search for Elisa and for a cure to save humankind.
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