SUNDOME • Kazuto Okada • Yen Press • 18+
Sundome (pronounced ”sun-do-meh”) is a Japanese word meaning “stopping just before”, in this case referring to the excruciating tingly feeling of almost reaching the point of orgasm, an appropriate title for this dark comedy about two virgins locked in masturbatory sexual slavery to one another. Aiba, a high school virgin who hangs out with his equally dorky friends in their school clubhouse, finds himself singled out for sexual teasing by Kurumi, a scrawny transfer student whose soft-spoken manners conceal her dominant streak and her shady background. Their games together involve all kinds of bizarre kink; Kurumi fingers his hard-on in class, plays many types of water sports (almost an obsession of the artist), and leads him on with kinky almost-sex while promising “Even if we were the last two people on earth, I’d still never have sex with you.” It’s like a porn film (or porn manga) which never quite gets to the money shot. When the two main characters aren’t fingering one another in dark classrooms, the goony supporting cast, who is unaware of the heroes’ relationship, indulges in humiliating, sometimes hilarious physical comedy and dirty jokes. Love comedy fans will shy away from the general mood of degradation, not to mention the grotesque art, but to its credit the manga never pretends to be cute; it’s florid sex-obsession and adolescent angst from beginning to end, and gradually it turns into a psychodrama about Kurumi’s upbringing and the connection between these two lonely souls. A film adaptation debuted in Japan in 2007. (This review was originally printed in Otaku USA magazine.)
** 1/2 (two and a half stars)
Today’s winner is Lataevea B. of New York! Congratulations, Lataevea!