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Bodily Fluids - Manga You Shouldn't Read In Public

Grey Carter | 19 Mar 2016 16:26
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Sundome is a heart-breaking romantic comedy about teenagers peeing on each other.

Kazuto Okada's S&Mish dramedy, Sundome, isn't exactly obscure as far as erotica goes. It was popular enough to warrant English releases of all eight of its volumes (which is great because the scans are abysmal) and it's been adapted into four live action movies (which sounds impressive until you watch them and realize they barely had the budget for one movie, never mind four).

The bulk of the story is your usual ecchi slapstick about horny teenagers and sexual frustration. The male lead, Hideo Aiba, is aimless and bland, notable only for his attraction to Kurumi Sahana, a mysterious transfer student he immediately starts pining for. What makes Sundome stand out in its crowded genre is the power it gives its female lead. And all the peeing. I guess. But I digress, Kurumi is fully aware of Hideo's attraction to her, and she uses it to manipulate him into a sexually charged, but technically chaste relationship. She ends up joining the school's Paranormal investigation club in order to remain close to him.

This is largely an excuse for pages of secretive, tease and denial erotica in various locales. The scenes are played for equal parts arousal and laughs, though they succeed at the latter with more regularity. One early sequence sees Kurumi goading Hideo into attempting a kind of avant garde masturbation technique involving a construction nail. I mean, if you can't laugh at a guy being tricked into stabbing himself in the dick with a nail, what can you laugh at?

Things get interesting when it becomes apparent that Kurumi isn't just manipulating Hideo for shits and giggles. She's using his infatuation with her to sculpt him into a stronger person, spending most of the story hovering between complete enigma, Manic Pixie Dream Girl, and that crazy art student from The Shape of Things. Hideo gets the bulk of the character development, but as he grows as a character he becomes less obsessed with Kurumi and more observant. His narration does as well, giving us a better understanding of Kurumi's character, even if many of her secrets are never actually revealed.

But yeah, there is a great deal of what TV Tropes calls Author Appeal going on in Sundome. There is the aforementioned issue of people peeing on one another, and if that's not your jam (spoiler: it is not my jam) then a fair few sequences that are meant to be intimate and sexy are going to have you reaching for the hand sanitizer rather than the hand lotion. Oh and Kurumi is super thin, too. Really thin. Like, can only be damaged by blunt weapons level thin. It makes sense in the context of the story, and it's used to brilliant effect in the third act, but sexy it is not.

And I guess that's the thing that struck me about Sundome. I didn't find it particularly sexy (and I think I was supposed to), but I did find it emotionally engaging, funny and heart-warming.

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