I know Hot Gimmick is a really popular shoujo manga, but I, for the life me, do not understand why. I read the first two volumes and the best way to explain my reaction after completing them is this: Reading Hot Gimmick turned my stomach.
So, there’s this girl Hatsumi who becomes a slave to the resident jerk in the company housing she and that
bastard guy lives in. The asshole guy, Ryoki, is the son of the most powerful honcho in the company housing complex, and when he stumbles upon Hatsumi buying a pregnancy test for her sis, decides to use that to blackmail her. Smart.
Not only is the guy abusive – he calls her bitch and slut even until the 11th freaking volume – he molests her at every given opportunity. He just wants to lose his virginity and Hatsumi is the convenient method for him to do so. He also ocassionally hits her, grabs her and shoves her.
And yet people want these two to get together. What’s wrong with this picture?
Hatsumi has the backbone of a jelly, no, a paramesium. She keeps returning to the guy no matter how nasty he is. Yes, he’s had a bad childhood. And this gives you an excuse to treat your girlfriend like a piece of dirt?
So, my friend who is really into Hot Gimmick says that it gets better after Vol.3. After feeling physically ill after reading Vol.2, I’m not that eager to continue, but I’ve always been a slave to knowing what happens next, so I took a peek at later volumes. Argh, the man is as big an asshole as he is in Vol.1 & 2! Only instead of doing all of the above, he also doesn’t want her to talk to her brother! Cos his jealous! Lovely! I so heart Ryoki!
The short story to the long tale is that I just don’t understand why people, especially girls, like Hot Gimmick. Ryoki is the most unappealing shojo “hero” ever. In fact, I think he’s plain evil. It made my eyes pop that most people want Hatsumi and Ryoki to be together rather than nice-guy Shindou, or even Azusa (who is okay except that he wanted to use her to get back at her dad. Ok, he’s a jerk too).
Another friend who was turned off by Hot Gimmick said that she put down the book for good after a “near gang rape incident”, which made me go, WTF?? I could’ve sworn that Ryoki wanted to trade his darling slave to his friend so that his pal can have his way with Hatsumi, but I flipped the pages too fast (for fear of throwing up on the pages) to really be sure if it happened or I was delirious.
Anyway, there’s this much-quoted article: She Was Asking for It. It talks about the “unsettling themes” in shoujo manga. Quite an interesting read.
“Hot Gimmick is kind of like watching your own life unfold.”
Hot Gimmick, for those who don’t know, centers on a teenage boy blackmailing a teenage girl into performing sexual activities with him. When he’s not assaulting her, he’s referring to her as his “slave,” verbally abusing her at every available opportunity, and even pushed her down the stairs when the two of them were kids.
He’s her main love interest. An older-but-popular Hot Gimmick website here featured a reader’s poll where a whopping 62% of votes were in favor of the lead heroine ending up with the creep.
Is anyone else bothered by this? The love story in Hot Gimmick may be a fictional one, but readers finding it desirable implies that a submission fantasy strikes a chord with a number of readers. A complete submission fantasy with an abusive boyfriend. Hot Gimmick is well out of the “hot bad boy” waters–the heroine desperately needs therapy, and the hero, for all his actions, deserves a restraining order if not jail time. Is this sort of escapist fantasy actually considered romantic by some?
Maybe I’m just too much of a feminist to enjoy Hot Gimmick. I can never look at abuse of any kind – verbal and physical – as a sign of affection like Hatsumi and the legion of Hot Gimmick readers do. There are far too many women caught in abusive relationships out there and who justify their boyfriends slurs and punches as “love” for me to sigh and shiver in pleasure as Ryoki calls Hatsumi a slut. As readers defended Ryoki’s virtue – bleargh – I can’t help but think that perhaps my brain is wired differently than theirs.
Anyway, I’m pretty late into this discussion. As evidenced in the article link I provided above, there’s a long string of people commenting about it already (look at the bottom of the article for the links).
Ok, maybe those who love Hot Gimmick can explain the appeal to me. Anyone?
Update: I thought I should include this review by Tangerine Dreams who said:
Everyone who reads it is appalled by the gender politics, yet the writing is so good that you’re sucked in like a coke addict. You really want Hatsumi to mature enough to be able to assert herself. The problem is that the male abusers are portrayed far too sympathetically, and Hatsumi’s method of dealing with abuse (blame it on herself, and apologize for “causing” it), is never questioned.
While Comics Worth Reading recommends Hot Gimmick:
The aftermath of Ryoki slapping Hatsumi in public is on view in book eight. He takes out his fear that he’s the only one who cares on her violently and then blames her for his outburst.
OMG, I don’t want to read this volume!!!!
The reader can view this book as a modern-day Cinderella story where the challenge is more threatening than cleaning a fireplace, or as a dramatization of the dangers of date rape when dealing with an immature teenage golden boy drunk on his own power, or a soap opera with a twisted triangle of attraction. The tension between the various readings and the sympathetic treatment of the character of Hatsumi keeps the reader involved.
Again, why is this popular??
One thing I can agree with the reviewers – the mangaka’s storytelling powress is up there with the best. Despite me disliking it so intensely, I still want to know what happens next. I suppose in some perverse way, we’re like voyeurs of an abusive relationship …