Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Manga Review: Samurai Harem Volume 3

Created by Yu Minamoto, Samurai Harem: Asu no Yoichi originally came out in Japan in 2006. The manga became a success and went on to garner more than ten volumes and even found itself animated a couple years later. Tokyopop got a hold of the license for release here in the States and they recently released the third installment.

True to its name Samurai Harem is basically a harem comedy. It features a nearly solitary male lead named Yoichi, who finds himself surrounded by beautiful girls everywhere he looks. Naturally awkward situations and fan-service rules apply, so if you have an affinity for dirty minded manga then by all means this is one for you. After all the book is rated Mature "Ages 18+" thanks to Moderate Sexuality, Non-Sexual Full-Body Nudity, Explicit Fanservice, and Mild Violence. In other words it's right up my alley!

In the third volume of Samurai Harem Yoichi and the girls head to an island resort for an all expenses paid vacation. This gives ample time for bikini shots, breast groping, and other awkward situations that end with Yoichi getting punched, slapped, or beaten into oblivion. It's a standard use of the humor and there's more eye-candy than story at the beginning, but it's all in good fun. There's a bit of a mystery surrounding Kagome's character and she simply doesn't want to go into the water for two reasons: she can't swim and her breasts are much larger than anyone expected.

In the second chapter of the book our heroes make their way to a hot-springs resort and find a place to relax. Unfortunately that’s short-lived as a story about a haunted cave surfaces and Ukyo and Sakon reveal themselves as masterminds of a nefarious trap. There are some rather entertaining moments here and ultimately the villain's trap blows up in their face. Ukyo's desire for Ikaruga gets the better of him and Sakon's disguise fails to fool both Yoichi and Ikaruga, though it's quite a sneaky thing to do.

After the bit that takes place in the cave it turns out that Ukyo and Sakon aren't quite done with the group. There're more traps to be sprung and a plot that involves Ryo making his way to the island to express his love for Ikaruga. Before this volume comes to a close it heads down some familiar territory with a traditional festival done in a way that only Samurai Harem could.

If you've seen Samurai Harem before then you already know what to expect in terms of both story, sense of humor, and Minamoto's art style. In so many ways the designs of this book truly stand out and both the characters and backgrounds are simply drop dead gorgeous. The expressions of the characters, the sense of action, the detail in clothing, and even the larger-than-life female forms are quite eye catching. Who would have thought that young teenage girls would be this voluptuous? Apparently Minamoto did.

From start to finish Samurai Harem: Asu no Yoichi volume three is full of laughs and plenty of action. The fan-service appeal, vibrant characters, and entertaining story stand out in many ways. If you read the first two books then this third installment should be a no-brainer. However, if you're new to the manga you'll definitely want to check out the first volume to see if it's your cup of tea. We've seen franchises like this before, and it's safe to say that they are an acquired taste.

Maki Rating:

Review material provided by Tokyopop.

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