PRETTY POISON • Aurora/LuvLuv • Yutta Narukami • 18+
Riyako is in love with her boyfriend, and dreams of the day when they will marry and raise a family. But her boyfriend is tired of her, so he devises an insidious scheme: dump her and hire Shogo, an 18-year-old player, to sleep with her for kicks. “You can use me to make yourself feel better,” Shogo says to Riyako, and they have awesome sex. However, Riyako soon discovers that Shogo is an emotionless cad who wasn’t loved by his parents, and so she vows to turn him into a better person. The “guy who is hired to seduce a girl but falls in love with her” plot is a common one in romance novels, and Pretty Poison is as predictable and nonsensical as any other example of the genre. (It’s not like there’s actually any reason for Riyako’s ex-boyfriend to hire some hot young guy to replace him in her life…really, isn’t he doing her a favor?) Although the script tries to convince us he’s a seducer, Shogo is actually totally naïve and has just been waiting for Riyako to come along and show him what love is all about. (”I didn’t know sex could make you feel so…connected.”) The one upside to this is that art is pretty in a shallow, glossy way, and the sex scenes are decent. Readers who find Riyako too old-fashioned and passive won’t even want to read the side story, “Yuji Scores,” about a woman who worries that she isn’t a good enough cook to cook for her sports-loving fiancé.
* (one star)
Today’s winner is Sam A. of Massachusetts — congratulations, Sam! Today’s picture comes courtesy of Kurt, posing here with his prize of Hana-Kimi and other manga!
In other news, I’m going to be in Toronto for the Toronto Comic Arts Festival this weekend. Sadly, Victor will be busy making New Media that weekend and can’t attend, but if you’re in Canada or the Eastern Seaboard, come to the Toronto Reference Library on May 8-9 and say hello! Readers age 18 or older (or those who look 18 and have a fake ID) should check out my panel on manga censorship, “Tentacles, Crosses and Cigarettes” at 3 PM on Saturday.