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Location: Anaheim, California, United States

Regular contributor ("Carson City Limits" and other content) for Random Lengths (circulation 56,000) in San Pedro, CA, 2001-present. Manga reviewer: LA Alternative (circulation 150,000), 2005-2006. Some manga reviews also ran in NY Press around this time. Entertainment reporting: Music Connection (circulation 75,000), 1983-1906. Travel writing: Oakland Tribune (1998) and Life After 50 (2006). Other bylines: Goldmine, Star Hits, Los Angeles Reader, Los Angeles Times, Long Beach Press Telegram, Blade, BAM, Daily Breeze, LA Weekly. Specializations include community news reporting, writing reviews (book, theater, concert, film, music), copywriting, resumes, editing, travel writing, publicity, screenwriting, lecturing, and content development. Education: B. A. Theater Arts, UCLA. Post-grad work, Education, Chapman University.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Manga Review: Eiken

This review was originally published in the June 2-8 2006 issue of LA Alternative.

MANGA by Lyn Jensen

GIRL TROUBLE

“Hentai” is one of the more controversial terms in a manga (or anime) fan’s lexicon. At one extreme it’s all but synonymous with adults-only porn, at the other it refers to nothing more provocative than glimpses of young women’s underwear. Sometimes it’s applied narrowly to heterosexual content, other times it applies to homosexual content as well. Using the term can create confusion, and also risk the wrath of whatever moral watchdogs happen to be lurking.

Perhaps that’s why examples of (hetero)sexually explicit manga are rarely marketed stateside. (Interestingly, the American manga market seems more open to gay-themed yaoi than straight-themed hentai.) An alternate term, “fan service,” is often applied to the provocative, suggestive, but less explicit comics that service the male fan with eyefuls of young women in their panties (or out of their panties), wildly exaggerated views of women’s busts, and the like, but that material, too, is rare in America.

One popular “fan service” manga series that’s available in the USA is Eiken, by Seiji Matsuyama, published by AnimeWorks Press, a division of Media Blasters. Over eighteen volumes bursting with silly adolescent humor, a teenage student keeps getting into far, far more than his share of girl trouble. Try as he might, young innocent Densuke just can’t stay out of compromising situations with the busty schoolgirls of the Eiken club, or with their faculty advisor, a teacher so awkward the students have to take care of her.

Even though much of the series’ humor depends on schoolgirls busting out of their clothes, the clumsy teacher caught in the nude with the schoolboy (he can explain everything, honestly), and the like, the overall effect is, happily, relatively inoffensive to women. It may remind fans of British comedy about the polite way the British have of getting away with racy humor. It’s so ridiculous and so characteristic of human shortcomings in both men and women, few adults are likely to trouble with being seriously offended by it. Just the same, Eiken is an adult comic, and Media Blasters has seen fit to bestow upon it an 18-and-older rating and a “parental advisory” warning.

In Japan the series was published from 2001 to 2004 by Shonen Champion, which caters to an older, wider range of readers and offers more diverse comics than the world-famous Shonen Jump magazine.

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