Eromanga-sensei, Vol. 1

By Tsukasa Fushimi, rin, and Kanzakihiro. Released in Japan by ASCII Mediaworks, serialization ongoing in the magazine Dengeki Daioh. Released in North America by Dark Horse Comics. Translated by Dinky Spatz.

I’m pretty sure most of my regular readers are surprised to see me reviewing this title at all. I do try to give most Vol. 1s a chance, but let’s face it, this is by the author of OreImo, which reminded fans that yes, incest ships CAN sometimes piss off a fanbase. It features another brother/sister romance combo, only they’re stepsiblings so it’s “safer”… but they’re also far younger. There’s an obnoxious princess-type rival, also very young. If I’m going to be honest, my favorite character in the first volume is the editor, and that’s half because she resembled Bazett from Fate. And of course the final indignity, I have to type “Translated by Dinky Spatz” with a straight face. Even the pseudonyms are mocking me. Now, with all of that said… if this IS your sort of thing, I see nothing wrong with reading it aside from the occasional “Christ, how old are they?”. It does its job.

The premise has a young high school writer, Masamune, trying to deal with the fact that his stepsister Sagiri hasn’t left her room in about a year. He brings her food and attempts to get her to leave the room, but no dice. He’s also dealing with the fact that he recently ended his light novel series and has to start another one, despite mediocre sales and a 4-chan style board that is tearing him apart. In fact, it turns out that the instigator of the online abuse is none other than his illustrator, who goes by the name Eromanga-sensei. I will now pause to see if the reader can guess the stunning plot twist. (pauses, sips tea) Yes, that’s right, the illustrator is none other than his shut-in sister. After discovering this, he slowly attempts to break her out of her shell, and she starts to open up to him, though her heavy tsundere personality is not really helping. Can he get her to school? Can he establish a familial bond. Or… something more?

Please God, not something more, though I know I’m likely fighting a losing battle there. In any case, I was not entirely grumpy. Masamune’s approach to getting Sagiri out of her room is respectful and subtle, and he seems a lot more “with it” than most protagonists of this sort. Nor does he have an immediately obvious little girl/little sister fetish, which is sadly refreshing in this genre. The classmate of Sagiri’s who goes to the house to try to get her into school takes a refuge in audacity that made me laugh in a horrible sort of way, and her solution on how to get Sagiri out of her room was dead on. And the ojou rival girl is also over the top in an amusing way, and I liked the way not-Bazett shut her down and threw her out when she grew too arrogant.

This is based on a light novel series, which mercifully is not licensed here. I think it may work better in manga format anyway. There is an audience for this sort of title, and if you are that audience, or enjoyed OreImo, then this is definitely a title worth picking up. It just hit all the wrong buttons for me.