Ecchi Review: Velvet Kiss

Romance, ecchi, hentai, smut, you name it, I’m all over it. The intrigue of romance and sex always makes for a good read. That previous sentence is an eloquent way of saying “I like porn with plot and plot with porn.” I’ll make it a note to share and review my favorites from now on because why not?

I discovered Velvet Kiss a few years back when I was going through Mangafox. I personally don’t recommend Mangafox as a reader because of the ads that keep popping up and ruining my reading experience. Now it’s available to purchase through various retailers, and I actually have the first volume…in German.

 

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I really need to read the product description before I purchase.

This story is one of my favorites to revisit because I enjoy the artwork, and some of the sex scenes are pretty hot. While no genitalia is drawn, the scenes still manage to be quite erotic. The character’s emotions are conveyed pretty well and seem most realistic, or at the very least interesting.

 

The Plot:

The story revolves around Shin Nitta who has suddenly found himself with an 80 million yen debt. In order to “pay it off” or at least stave off payments, he has to keep a wealthy young woman named Kano company. And by keeping her company we mean: be her errand boy and sex friend. No joke, the first day they meet she requests to have sex with him and he complies.

 

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The rest can be read here.

He also does various other errands such as: calling him in the middle of work to come see her, buying her and her friends snacks, picking up her laundry, and keeping her company. Between fetch quests and trying to keep up with her while also covering his tracks and making excuses for not being at work, there’s this underlying story about the Kuchiya’s–Kano’s family–and how they have been covering up some pretty shady business.

Over time, the two form an…interesting relationship as Nitta begins to genuinely care for Kano and in turn, Kano begins to defrost. Do they come to love each other? That sort of happens–but they realize there’s a distance between them and that might not be possible to overcome. The ending is fairly satisfying and I don’t think any more volumes need to be made.

 

The Problems:

Consent seems to be a bit of an issue here. The relationship between Nitta and Kano is woefully unbalanced. Kano is a rich woman who uses her status to get what she wants from him. Nitta is bending to her because he doesn’t want to be in debt. Their relationship is coercive, even if he enjoys being able to bang Kano on the regular.

I was also wondering about Kano’s age that never gets addressed in-story. I had managed to gather that she had at least finished high school and hadn’t started any university. This put her at around 18-19 or possibly 20 years old. Her twintail hairstyle seemed like a childish choice but I think it highlighted her immaturity or unwillingness to grow up and take responsibility for herself. When she gets serious she changes her hair to a more mature style.

 

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Which saves us the problem of age.

 

 

 

A few subplots go nowhere and one villain goes free. We never find out what happens to Kano’s former flame Yuki and his aspirations. No talk of Nitta’s brother or the journalist either. We don’t know what happens to the rest of Kano’s friends once she ditches them. Maybe it’s for the better, who knows? The story kind of just ends and leaves the rest to our imagination.

 

What Do I Think?

While this is one of my personal favorites I will admit that it’s kind of a cheap thrill. It’s not the worst kind of smut out there. I’ve read much, much, MUCH worse than this and if you read shojou, hentai, or smut on the regular you will understand.

The sex scenes are pretty awesome. Exhibitionism seems to be a running kink in this story because Nitta and Kano; as well as a few other characters, get it on while risking getting caught in public and semi-public places. There’s also sex used as a bartering tool for information and sex used as recreation at parties.

I think the artist does a fair job trying to paint sex in different lights. Sex between Kano and Nitta is painted as antagonistic and uneven before finally becoming loving. Sex between villainous or amoral characters is seen as creepy and controlling. On the other hand, sex with the journalist and Nitta’s brother is painted as comedic and lighthearted.

I also feel like this novel captures a sort of “wish fulfillment” fantasy. This story is meant to be a fantasy and isn’t something you should hope to experience. This point is driven home by the reality that Nitta’s ditching work eventually gets him fired. Kano has to come face to face with her trauma. The two also part ways, unlikely to see each other again. It’s a whirlwind of emotion and not all of it is dealt with. The timeskip is the only thing that gives us any sort of catharsis and it’s a bit of a punch in the gut.

The artwork is fairly nice. It’s clear that Chihiro Harumi has a preference for large breasts and great fashion. Kano and various other female characters get some pretty sweet getup. There is some fanservice but it doesn’t feel forced. For instance: having short skirts but without thigh high stockings.

This manga will always be on the top of my most wanted list for years to come. It’s always one of the first I recommend to those new to the genre of ecchi.

Final Grade: 8/10

Available for purchase on Amazon

There’s also a live-action version that I’ve never seen:

 

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Maybe I’ll get my hands on it on day?

 

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The Problem With Lunafreya

As A Character

I honestly wanted to like Lunafreya. I’m a fan of princess characters with mysterious powers who can communicate between Heaven and Earth. Lunafreya as the Oracle in Final Fantasy 15 was something to look forward to. I wanted to see her powers in action and just what she could be capable of.
And in the moment I got to see her doing something fucking spectacular…she gets Aerithed. Unceremoniously stabbed through the stomach like her predecessor and dying without serving any real purpose besides giving Noctis–her supposed beloved–the extra power he needs to fight the Leviathan.

 

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Seriously, what the fuck? She didn’t even stab anyone with that trident!

The worst part was I didn’t get to see her personality. I saw her in flashbacks and heard her voice on the radio but I all I could gather from her was that she was…a good person. She seemed very selfless and kind and ridiculously pure. And because of all those things, she fell flat. She fell into a mixture of purity/prop tropes:

  • 100% Adoration Rating
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold
  • Barrier Maiden
  • Too Good for this Sinful Earth

Granted, she’s a very important character. When I watched her tell off the Leviathan, I was proud of her. When she spoke up for mankind, I cheered. I actually really liked her portrayal and how she stood her ground and fought for what she believed in. And when she died I was actually more angry than sad. Was that it? Was that all she was good for?

 

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Okay she DID use it for something.

Granted, I’m not finished with the game, but since spoilers are everywhere and TVTropes exists I learned a lot about the game as a whole. I know there are lots of tie-in materials that expand upon her as a character that make her more complex. I do plan on reading and watching all the extra material; but even after all that I will probably still feel like she’s still a flat character and extremely shallow love-interest.

 

As A Love Interest

Let me get this out there: I’m a BIG fan of romance. I LOVE love stories. I love it when characters fall in love and get together. I am a sucker for that stuff. I get sick off of it. I like romance in video games…when it makes sense and it’s portrayed with realism.

 

Apparently in 15 Noctis and Luna are engaged to be married, but that’s okay because they were childhood sweethearts! Except we never really see that in-game. The two characters don’t interact with each other on-screen except for flashbacks which don’t actually drive home the point. They don’t communicate except through Umbra–Noctis’ pet dog–in a world where cellphone style devices are A CONFIRMED THING.

While Noctis is a fairly private person and doesn’t gush about her openly, I would at least hope to hear some inner monologue about her or see more tender moments between him and Luna. I want to believe he loves her. Their portrayal end game is something out of a fairytale.

 

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And they lived happily in the ever-after.

 

 

 

But Luna ends up as more of a satellite love interest. Her death is seen as a big deal and Noctis visibly suffers from depression because of it, withdrawing and shutting down. No real resolve is seen until the end where (depending on the ending and how optimistic you are) Noctis actually dies and is reunited with her in the afterlife. While I have no issue with this as an ending trope, it feels shoehorned in with no catharsis given.

 

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Does this remind you of anything?

 

The Alternatives

I can think of several ways that Lunafeya could’ve become the character that she deserved to be. I read no fanfiction to come about with these conclusions.

  • Fighting the Leviathan alongside Noctis. This is my personal favorite idea. The Leviathan Battle was the PERFECT opportunity to see Luna as a fighting character. Imagine her Oracle powers countering Leviathan strikes combined with Noct’s warping abilities. If I could animate this I would because it would have been EPIC. Luna was never a Lady of War, but it if she had hidden fighting skill, this could be shown off. If only she had ceremonial armor to wear instead of/along side of that dress of hers. And if she aboslutely had to die in the end, it would have been perfect for her to die after giving it her all in battle instead of getting knifed by Discount Sephiroth Ardyn.
  • More Flashbacks and Cutscenes with Noctis. In Final Fantasy: Advent Children we see Cloud plagued with memories of Aerith dying. A variation of that could have occurred throughout the game where Noctis sees things that remind him of her or writes in a diary. There are little things that can be done to build relationships between characters that we are supposed to believe have a connection without being on-screen together. He can look at cell phone pictures, send text messages, hold onto trinkets she gave him, have crushed flowers, humming her favorite music. Even flashbacks to memories of them holding hands, embracing, or admitting feelings can give the impression that they’re closer than the game actually showed.
  • Not Killing Her at All. Lunafreya didn’t need to die in this game. We didn’t need to see another Aerith death scene. We didn’t need to see a fanfic rewrite of Sephiroth stabbing her to spite the hero. She could have been more like Yuna from Final Fantasy X who ended up fighting and defeating Sin alongside her friends.
  • Not Making Her a Love Interest. In spite of her and Noct being connected and seeming like they can’t be seperated was making her a love interest really necessary? Arranged marriage aside, both parties agreeing to it out of sense of duty rather than actually being in love is a reasonable outcome. Noctis being relieved to be marrying someone he knows rather than a stranger is acceptable. Luna being willing to marry out of desire to fulfill her duty aside from romantic interest is an okay plot point. I personally ship them together, but they don’t have to be. She can still be meaningful without being a (convenient) love interest.
  • Making A Love Triangle. Could she be in love with someone else? Could Noctis be in love with someone else? I’d like to point out that Ignis loves Noct more than Luna does and it shows in the game. A love triangle seemd to exist in the actual game; and Luna getting killed off felt like a Die for Our Ship moment only to be overhauled by killing off Noctis and leaving Ignis by himself. I personally don’t like this idea as much, but it’s still better than what we ended up getting: a bunch of ambiguity and undertones that never get explained.
  • Making Her the Lead Instead of Noctis. Lunafreya is actually a very interesting character on her own. With games like Bayonetta existing in this world I’m surprised we didn’t have this game from a female perspective. I feel like this could be a coming of age story for her and it could be every bit as harrowing as the current game. If the roles were switched, Luna being the Crown Princess and Noctis being the Oracle, it would still make for an exciting game that MANY people would play.
  • Happy Ending. Any variation of Luna surviving to the end and her and Noctis getting married and Babies Ever After. All the guys get love interests: Prompto gets with Cindy (maybe), Gladio gets with Aranea, and Ignis and Noctis form a polyamorous bond with…Luna(?). Or Luna steps aside and lets Noct and Ignis be happy together.
  • Not Making Her Blonde. She looks like discount Naminé.

Conclusion

All in all I like Lunafreya. I just wanted better for her. I don’t like female characters getting stuffed in fridges. I hate manic pixie dream girl tropes. I hate female characters having to die to serve as a male character’s motivation. I don’t want women dying to serve as just a plot point and nothing more.

There’s always fanfiction though…

Guys and Dolls: First Post

In the wake of RealDolls and robots gaining citizenship the war between humans and machines is heating up. The commentary surrounding Artificial Intelligence and objects coming to life is as old as the tale of Pygmalion whose sculpture was brought to life by the gods due to his…devotion deemed as love. While some accept this story of wish fulfillment, others are quick to point out the obvious flaws and repercussions that come with creating new life and designing your ideal lover.

This story is told and retold through all forms of media and the only thing that changes is the tropes and setting.

Sources of reference:

  • Chobits – CLAMP
  • Doll –Mitsukazu Mihara
  • Franken Fran
  • Frankenstein
  • Ghost in the Shell

The topics I’ll be exploring include:

  • Relationships between humans and A.I.
  • Tropes: Born Sexy Yesterday, Pygmalion Plot,
  • Algalmatophillia and similar fetishes
  • Plastic surgery and dollification
  • Lust versus Love and psychological responses
  • Needs for companionship and relations between humans
  • Digital Ghosts, Brain Uploading, and the Future

This will likely be a multi part work seeing as this is a content-heavy discussion. I’ll make sure to post as many sources as I can, make links, and try to keep a sense of humor in all of this. However, themes concerning what it means to be human are hardly humorous. That said, I’ll get started.

Does Chii Dream of Electric Sheep?

Chobits

CLAMP, a world renowned manga artist team famous for their works such as Card Captor Sakura, Angelic Layer, and XXXHolic, explores the idea of relationships between human and machine. These themes show up poignantly in the highly favored manga series Chobits:

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Where guys will be guys and girls will be…robots?

The story explores a future where Persocoms (personal computers) take the form of humans with many options available. The protagonist, Hideki finds a discarded Persocom in an alleyway and takes her home. He turns her on and discovers she has no data and can only say “chi”. He names her Chii and hijinks ensue.

Across several volumes we learn the stories of other people who have had their lives touched by their experiences with Persocoms:

Yumi Omura: A high school student who has a complex about Persocoms and wonders if  she’ll be able to measure up. She’s in love with a man who married his Persocom, and she happens to resemble her. This does get touched on.

Takko Shimizu: A cram school teacher whose husband leaves her for a Persocom. Falls in love with one of her students.

Hiromu Shinbo: Cram student and friend of Hideki. He marries Shimizu. Owns Sumomo.

Hiroyasu Ueda: A baker who married his Persocom. She passes away protecting him.

Minoru Kokubunji: A Persocom expert who created a Persocom to replace his lost sister.

Chitose Hibiya: Wife of Chii’s original creator. She’s actually Chii’s original mother.

Without going into too many unnecessary details the story explores human/persocom, persocom/persocom, and human/human relationships. The story itself is surprisingly optimistic and falls heavily on the idealistic scale, believing that humans and machines can have actual relationships.

My experience with the series was rather emotional and the outcome was unexpected. It explored Persocoms exploring their own feelings and figuring out what life means to them as machines. The story within a story “A City With No People” asks the overlaying question if humans can truly love Persocoms and whether or not our second protagonist, Chii, will be able to choose the “someone just for her” and be accepted.

While people experience attraction to fictional characters and that is seen as odd, but somewhat normal; what happens when you bring those characters to life? What happens when you give them physical bodies? What happens when you give them a free range program complete with emotions? What if? What if? What if? First Hatsune Miku hologram concerts, then what?

IC: In a Doll

On the cynical side we have a much darker and dare I say, realistic (?) point of view from Mitsukazu Mihara. Her stories are steeped in tragedy told through stunning illustration and fashion design. Stories like Dokuhime and Beautiful People rip into the gut and nibble on the heartstrings of those not expecting the content to be so heavy. A warning to any who dare to read: death is a VERY common feature in these stories and the artwork contains gore.

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It’s all downhill from here.

I own the first volume of Doll and I’ve read it several times. Online I’ve read up to about 3 volumes myself but have not revisited them. The stories range from comical to disturbing as the story of Dolls, beautiful androids, and their place with humanity. The most touching story comes from the first book where the doctor who created Dolls has come down with a non-reversible form of dementia. Her memories degenerate very quickly and soon she’s unable to head the project. Her husband decides to try to replace her with a doll replica and well…:

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Goes about as well as you’d expect.

He ends up leaving the project to take care of his wife, but not before leaving some very important rules:

  1. Never create in the image of a living person.
  2. Never blur the line between human and doll.
  3. And the third rule: Never transplant human memories into a doll.

These rules get exploited and loopholed as the series goes on, as one might expect. One story tells of a young boy who gets a doll that looks like his mother. There’s another story of a man whose hatred of women (and underlying mommy issues) compels him to buy a doll and customize her to—you guessed it—look like his mother. Dolls are also easily discarded, another story shows, and are scrapped in favor of new ones.

Dolls are sometimes seen as a menace and some people are reluctant to have them. Others have their lives changed in positive ways–often before their certain demise, or the demise of others. This manga doesn’t shy away from the grim realities that face both humans and dolls alike. By the time Dolls hit the shelves, the economy is a wreck, jobs are scarce or poor-paying, and humans trust each other less and less.

The uncanny resemblance to our current culture should be disturbing, but really isn’t as I’ve been conditioned to accept these kinds of horror through my consumption of Nightmare Fuel. This manga raises all sorts of saddening and uncomfortable questions of agency, identity, and what it means to be truly human. With reality and fantasy seeming to come closer and closer together, will the lines blur and disappear completely? Or, will we manage to make some kind of distinction between the two?

 

Tune in next week for Part 2!

Mandatory Egotistical Intro Post

While the dust is still in the air and this site is not fully launched I’m forced to make at least one post introducing myself.

My name is Gigi NoRez and I’m a twenty something mostly adult writer, gamer, and cosplayer. I possess  a spectrum of interests and talents that include:

  • staying up late
  • shifting moral alignment
  • questionable caffeine consumption
  • resting bitch face
  • swearing

This blog is mostly for fun and serves as more of a social commentary to the world around me and the changing times I’ve found myself in. These are the words and perspectives of a millennial who is getting older and adjusting to the newer and newer generations and ideas that come along.

Happy Hunting!

Gigi

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