Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
GN 1 & 2
Yuzumi has been an obsessive otome game player since high school, and now that she's a full-fledged adult, her dream is conquer the industry with the kinds of games girls really want to play. To that end she joins Trick Star, the company that produced the game that got her into gaming. But it turns out that creating and putting out a new otome game is a lot more complicated than it sounds – can Yuzumi really cut it in the industry?
If you're a fan of otome games, there's a good chance that this manga will be a lot more fun than if you've never played one. This is because not only is the subject of the series the creation of that particular genre, but the story runs like one as well – fresh-faced Yuzumi joins the all-male game development firm Trick Star as both the youngest and only female member, and of course all of the guys she works with are various degrees and types of attractive. They all help her to realize her game-creating dreams while falling for her, and if the series had had perhaps one more volume, the romance plot could have been wrapped up as nicely as the game one.
Sadly, Otome Mania!! is only a duology, which means that something gets left out in favor of the greater plot. In this case, it's the romance, a decision that's a little baffling given the target audience of otome gamers. While we can certainly infer that Yuzumi has chosen a “route” with one of her co-workers, the romantic aspect is the least developed of the two books, which unfortunately leaves things feeling a bit unfinished when the last page is read. It feels as if the series was cut off before it had a chance to properly wrap up, and that's a problem.
Fortunately the rest of the series is a lot of fun. Yuzumi is the sort of bright-eyed young fan who stumbles into an industry because she loves its output without actually realizing what goes into creating it. A veteran otome gamer, Yuzumi has chosen Trick Star because she loved their first game, and she wants to help create more like it. She's full of enthusiasm and ideas, but somehow got hired knowing nothing about how to put them into practice, which understandably drives her immediate boss, Tachibana, absolutely crazy. Luckily his boss, Miyahara, who hired Yuzumi in the first place, is more about giving people a chance than wanting them to know precisely what they're doing, so Yuzumi gets the opportunity to figure things out and put together a game pitch. The catch? Tachibana has to approve it before Miyahara gets to see it.
This is where Otome Mania!!'s game references really begin. Yuzumi gets to go from hot co-worker to hot co-worker picking their brains and learning the process, and as this is going on, at least two of them begin to fall in love with her. Not that Yuzumi notices – she's far too busy trying to create her educational otoge about attractive foreigners teaching you French, English, German, and Italian. Meanwhile the rival company PriLi is busy copying Yuzumi's new title and positioning themselves as prospective new employers for her, because naturally she's incredibly talented once she learns the ropes. It's a plot that could be an otome game itself, and that's where a lot of the fun comes from. You can almost imagine playing Yuzumi's life, and like all good reverse harems, half of the joy is in deciding which of her suitors is your favorite – and which you'd like her to end up with. As I mentioned previously, this is also ultimately where the series drops the ball, but in the first volume especially, it really does work.
The art for the series is also reminiscent of the games it represents. From Yuzumi's ridiculously fussy-cute outfits to the variety of men available for her delectation, the series could make the jump from page to (computer) screen as easily artistically as story-wise. For the most part the pages and panels also flow well, although there are a few small-print glosses that are difficult to read from both print size and placement of the text.
Perhaps what's most interesting about the series, however, is Yuzumi's transition from enthused newbie to competent industry adult. The story tells us that it isn't overnight – while we don't see the months past, they are noted in both narration and speech bubbles – and that makes much more sense than if she suddenly became a genius with a firm grasp of the entire process. She makes mistakes right along, from directing a voice actor as if she was a fan rather than a professional to not showing up on time to meetings or geeking out when meeting an industry veteran. But she also learns from those problems, and while she's still not perfect when the series ends, she's definitely come a long way from where she started.
Otome Mania!!'s scant two volumes are a good, quick read. Although they lack a solid ending in terms of the character relationships, the insider view of the otome game industry is interesting and the story itself fun. If you're a fan of that style of game, or perhaps just looking for a short new series, this one is worth checking out.
Overall : B
Story : B
Art : B+
+ Fun to read, some interesting industry insights, not unlike reading an otome game
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