By Pon Watanabe. Released in Japan as “Momoiro Shoten e Youkoso” by Media Factory. Released in North America digitally by Yen Press.
This was definitely one of the most intriguing announcements of SDCC, and I wondered what sort of title it would be like? How mature were we walking here? Was it plot-oriented, or just a slice-of-life gag comedy? Well, having now seen it, slice-of-life is definitely the road it travels down. If it weren’t for the sex talk, this would be almost a typical workplace gag manga. It’s just that here, the workplace sells pornography and sex toys as well as the regular used books, and the clientele it gets can be a little special.
There’s only one scene that I would call so questionable that I’d grab it away from the under-18s (where the bookstore staff goes to the shooting of a porn movie… the most explicit parts of which are drawn using cute cat mascots instead), but make no mistake about it, this book is about a sex shop, and every single chapter is filled with sex talk. Masturbatory aids, adult videos, exhibitionists, voyeurs, you name it, they’re all in here. The author, by the way, is also the narrator/star, but mostly serves to stand aside and make snarky comments – she doesn’t get involved in any of the activities.
Judging by Watanabe’s other two titles, she seems to specialize in slice-of-life gag works like this. It’s broken up into short 8-page chapters, which examine the lives of the owner and staff, the varied customers, and also gets quite philosophical at times. The general rule of thumb in this book seems to be that sexuality is good and nothing to hide provided that it’s not hurting other people. This seems to be an especially good moral to have in times like these, where propriety is seen as everything.
The title is also quite funny, in a mild “causes a smile” way usually, but sometimes the more risque humor made me jaw drop a bit. It’s mostly about the shop, its merchandise, and the customers, but the real world intrudes quite a bit – you see Watanabe having to bust middle school students pretending to be over 18, dealing with yakuza and undercover police (she wasn’t arrested, but had to give a statement – no uncensored porn, please!), and going on karaoke nights with her co-workers. She’s also a female, and quite tall, so there’s talk about how sex shop customers react at having to pay for things through her. And yes, her manga skills do come up once or twice, as she tries drawing things for the shop. We also see her naivite occasionally, such as when she tries to lure more females into the store, only to find that this depletes the much larger male customer base (as they feel even more uncomfortable).
Overall, it’s a cute little title. That said, I wouldn’t get it unless you like slice-of-life mild humor stories, sexual content or no. The style is very “superdeformed” and abstract, so there’s no real nudity or sexual situations. It simply is what it is, a cute title about a woman who manages a used bookstore that has a back room filled with sex stuff.