Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Gou-dere Sora Nagihara
Shouta Yamakawa isn't very good with girls, so he sticks to the 2D variety as a major otaku. He wishes that he could be with his dream girl, Sora Nagihara, from the manga Tama x Kiss, who is sweetness and light personified. And then one day she bursts from his book, landing on his bed and in his real life. Only...she's a little different. “Sweetness and light” somehow don't seem to fit her anymore...
If you know what a “gou-dere” is, as opposed to a “tsundere” or a “yandere,” you're already halfway to knowing what's so funny about this manga. If you are unfamiliar with that particular character type, however, she is basically someone who will stop at nothing to procure whatever she wants her master to have, be that chocolate or more girls for his harem. Notice where the emphasis is: the gou-dere does not necessarily take his wishes into account. That makes for sometimes awkward and uncomfortable situations, but Suu Minazuki, the man behind Heaven's Lost Property, manages to make things more funny than not, even when the content of the story crosses the line.
The premise of the series, which is complete at four volumes, is that first year high school student Shouta Yamakawa is a major otaku. He's not popular with real girls, nor does he quite know what to do with them, so he instead focuses his attentions on the 2D variety. He's currently in love with Sora Nagihara, the heroine of the moe tragedy manga Tama x Kiss. Sora is a sweet girl with a mysterious terminal illness who wears cat ears to show that she hopes to come back in her next life as free as a feline, and Shouta thinks that she may be the most perfect girl ever. He wishes desperately that she was real...and suddenly, she is, falling from the pages of his manga and onto his bed. As the title indicates, however, real live Sora is as far from charming as you can get, declaring that his love of 2D girls clearly means that he's got a major sex drive. She then promptly runs out and starts catching females for him to have sex with.
Older fans, or those familiar with older shounen titles, will notice the similarity of this story to Masakazu Katsura's Video Girl Ai in its initial execution. (There were actually a fair amount of “girl springs from ordinary object” shounen romances at one point.) Minazuki uses a lot of classic shounen romance tropes as part of his comedy, with some, like the fact that Sora is obviously from the 2D world because it is actually impossible to see up her skirt, funnier than others. She has a variety of special “2D Art of Death” moves, such as making a girl's breasts bigger, that poke fun at her own genre, and comments like “there is no armpit hair in the 2D world!” are both funny and somewhat metafictional. Sora herself is gleeful as she goes about stripping girls for Shouta (which he is vehemently against) or squirting liquids on them to make it look like Shouta has ejaculated on them. Her joy, along with the comedy, helps to take the uncomfortable edge off the actions of the story, but ultimately it will be your tolerance for this type of over-the-top humor that will determine whether you enjoy the book.
And some people will have trouble with it. Gou-Dere Sora Nagihara is basically a dirty manga, not because it deals with sex but due to the way it handles it. While there are no penetrative rape jokes, Sora is constantly stripping, groping, and placing unwilling girls in sexual situations. Minazuki makes it clear that none of it is to be taken seriously, and Shouta himself is against all of it (especially since it keeps getting him arrested), but for some readers, just the baseline plot will be distasteful. This sort of humor does not work for everyone, no matter how easy it is to recognize what it is making fun of.
If you are not bothered by Minazuki's material, however, it's a pretty funny book. There's a brief Heaven's Lost Property reference as well as the mangaka making fun of his friend Takahiro Seguchi (artist of Oretama), and the biologically-ready grandmother – even though her daughter is still in high school – is so far off from the type of mom we usually see in shounen romances that she's especially entertaining. (Particularly if you've ever owned an original NES.) Minazuki's art is soft and pleasant, although Shouta looks a little too feminine at times, and he has the amazing ability to make any liquid look thick and goopy, which is frighteningly important in the book. Yen Press holds nothing back in the translation, which works very well, giving the whole volume a raunchiness that it needs to be fully successful.
Gou-Dere Sora Nagihara is absolutely not for everyone. It's gross in a couple of ways, but it also never takes itself seriously and makes it clear that it is a comedy. As such, it works well, and it absolutely has some very funny moments, both making fun of shounen manga and plain ol' sex humor. The book ends with a fairly major plot revelation that it will be interesting to watch play out next time, showing that Minazuki does have actual story plans for the series. If the humor doesn't completely turn you off and you like something that's not for the kiddies, Shouta's problems with Sora can be pretty fun.
Overall : B
Story : B
Art : B
+ Can be very funny, Minazuki gets points for knowing that boobs aren't filled with air. Self-referential shounen moments are great.
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