This manga was first published in 2001 but it’s going to be dramatized by Intercommunications next February!! I intended to only write a short review for this manga initially but I changed my mind and write a detailed review to celebrate the coming of the BLCD (which will only cover Sango & Nekoyanagi’s story). This is known as the iromachi (similar to modern day red light district) because the story took place in a fantasy setting that resembled the ancient red-light district of Japan. The whole district is isolated from the rest of the world and the prostitutes working there are not allowed to leave without permit. Many children were sold to become prostitutes to pay off their family debts and in this series, we get to see the life of a few of these prostitutes.
!!SHOTA WARNING !!
The ages of the couple vary but most of the uke are YOUNG. Sango is around 13-14 at the beginning of the story so it’s okay (13 is the age of consent in Japan I think but it’s about to change I’ve heard). Momiji looks around 6-7 to me and Asagi looks around 9-10 for me.
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This is the third volume in the series and the spotlight now moves from the main Mitou family to the branch family. Although the story itself is independent of the main story, it’s impossible to understand all the jargons unless you have read the first two volumes. The main couple is Genma (the paper master) and Himi, the paper puppet. The story is extremely straightforward. Genma’s father died with one death wish – for Himi to protect the family at all costs. Himi was Genma’s father Seima‘s paper puppet and he wanted to fulfill Seima’s wish. Realizing this fact, Waki gave Himi to Genma after Seima’s death on condition that (1) Genma would inherit the family business and would receive requests from the main family, and (2) he would grant Himi’s wish, a.k.a. to protect the Mitou branch family at all costs. Genma himself had strong kotodama powers and he used that power to obtain land by force illegally. Genma agreed to Waki’s terms and inherited both the branch family as well as his father’s paper doll Himi. One day, he saw Himi using his powers as a paper doll to heal a child for Dr. Namai. Genma was furious and cursed Dr. Namai such that the latter’s arm became crooked and paralyzed. At the same time, he also stripped Himi naked (in front of both the patient – a young girl but she seemed unconscious and Dr. Namai who was screaming in pain). He then raped Himi. Since then, he basically just coerced Himi into all kinds of sexual orgies and would not let Himi sleep with clothes on. Himi could not understand why Genma was so "cruel" to him and touched and had sex with him even when Genma was not injured. He naturally came to the conclusion that Genma hated him. In the meantime, Genma seemed to maintain an intimate relationship with his partner at work – Chidori. She was the daughter of a yakuza and she and Genma were constantly being threatened because they were engaged in dangerous land dealings. One day, she brought a severely injured Genma home and Himi started to wonder what relationship Chidori had with Genma. After that incident, Genma decided that it would be better for Himi to follow him to work such that he could get healed immediately should he be seriously wounded again. While waiting in the car, someone told Himi to move the car. Himi went to find Genma to tell him to move the car but ended up getting lost himself. The rain was beating hard and since he was made out of paper, he was weak in the rain and he fainted. When he woke up, he was in a love hotel and Genma was blowdrying him. Unlike usual, Genma’s body was freezing cold. Apparently he had been searching for Himi in the rain as well. Himi really could not understand why Genma would embarrase him with all the sexual orgies and yet search for him so hard and long in the rain. He thought Genma hated him but it turned out Genma loved him. He loved him too much he could not control his own sexual desires. He fell in love with Himi way back when he was still a child. Then, his father was obsessed with Himi and would not let anyone touch or even see Himi. Genma though secretly watched Himi and when he fell in a pit and got injured, Himi kissed him to try to heal his wounds. Seima saw it all and that’s why he expelled Genma and his mother from the family. However, his father was dead and he could keep Himi all to himself. Still, his father would haunt him in his dreams and said that Himi belonged to him. While Himi understood that Genma did not hate him but liked him, there was still the Chidori problem. So when he was in the office with Chidori alone, he had the opportunity to get a reassurance from Chidori that nothing happened between him and her. In fact, Chidori hated men because when she was young, she was raped by men from her fathers’ enemies. She could be friends with Genma because Genma did not have "sexual desire" toward her. Nanya adds: But of course as Genma ONLY had eyes on Himi 🙄 All seemed to turn out well, except for the fact that Dr. Namai was back for revenge. Since Genma cursed him, he had to give up being a doctor and he was left without any means to survive. Desperate, he tried to stab Genma but Himi protected him and got stabbed instead. At that moment, Genma said Himi was a fool to get injured in his place. However, Himi said that should be his line. Then, Himi recalled what Chidori said to him earlier – that love is when you value another person before your own life. Himi realized he loved Genma, but it was a little too late as he began to vanish, leaving behind only snow of paper fragments.
Kaito and his friend Kazuya were traveling to Wales in England. Kaito is the child of a Japanese coporate elite who’s living in London and he’s currently studying in a private school in England and revising for his GCSEs. Kaito’s mother is the worst type of woman you can imagine. Although she has no achievement of his own, she always boasts about her husband, who barely cares about his family as he is extremely absorbed in work. She is also ridiculously proud of his son Kaito and puts a lot of pressure on him. As a result, Kaito becomes rebellious by dying his hair red. Kaito also thinks he has no "real friend" because all the people are kind to him or respect him since his father is so successful. These all sum up to a terribly frustrated life and Kaito wants to escape from it all. The opportunity came when he was touring Plymouth with Kazuya on a trip to explore the history of pirates. Kaito was inspired by the stories of Sir John Hawkins and Sir Francis Drake … the two who started the slave trade to West Indies as well as the central figures behind the licensed pirateering campaign). There, Kaito found a gap in time and like Sliders, he traveled through the "tunnel" and time slipped back to 1587, the year before the Spanish Armada in 1588. He was first found unconscious by Vincent, who was sent from Spain to assist the rescue of Mary, Queen of Scots. She was imprisoned by Queen Elizabeth I at Fotheringhay because Elizabeth I was afraid she might try to get back the throne. To escape, Mary tried to seek help from the Catholic country of Spain but her plan failed and she was executed on the crime of carrying out the Babington Plot. Since Vincent could not save Mary, he at least wanted to check on the English navy as they began to rival the sea power of Spain. When Kaito met Vincent and knew he was a Spaniard, he told Vincent (in a panic) that Spain would start a war against England the following year but would tragically lose the war. Of course, Vincent was extremely angry when he heard his country would lose a war that did not even start. He lost control and nearly strangled Kaito to death but he quickly got a grip of himself. Then, he heard a lot of sounds so he escaped by himself because it would be too risky to bring Kaito along. However, he regretted his move when he was back in Spain to find out they were planning the war exactly the way Kaito described to him. Meanwhile, Kaito was discovered by the pirates, led by Jeffrey, the captain of Gloria. After some interesting interrogations, Kaito finally got onto Gloria as an attendant :). Jeffrey also brought Kaito to meet with Sir Francis Drake, who seemed to be on friendly terms with Jeffrey. If Kaito could not prove his worth to live, he might be killed or enslaved so Kaito pretended to be one who could read the future (like a prophet) who came to England on a missionary trip from Japan. His ship sank though and he was washed ashore the French coast where he was then sold to England. He managed to escape but lost consciousnes near the place where Gloria parked. Thanks to his research on the history of pirates and the Spanish Armada before his trip to Plymouth, they bought his story. Since then, he boarded Gloria and his adventure began (and love journey) also adjourned. The seiyuu I listed on the side bar are the ones casted for the drama CD (though I doubt they can replicate the atmosphere of this novel in the CD).
Again, I’m quite lazy so I just combine the manga and CD review.
The story begins with our hero Raizou (CV: Toriumi Kousuke) being torn apart from his grandmother by the goddess of death. Having no more place where he can call "home", he arrives at the Mitou household as a housekeeper because he is a rather talented young student chef. Energetic and innocent, Raizou is surprised to find the Mitou household being "slightly" different from normal Japanese households in that they are very outgoing with sexual behaviors ❓ . In fact, it’s more than a norm than exception to see kissing or "lessons" on sex. Worse is the fact that nearly half of the residents in the house refuse to even touch the food he made with all his heart. When he was puzzling over the strange behaviors, he suddenly heard "danger" and then whew, an arm flying into the crab hot pot he just made Turns out the Mitou family is gifted (or cursed) with the ability of using kotodama (the technique that will make what one says come true). The price to pay for such an incredible ability is that they will be inflicted with wounds. To heal these wounds, they have special paper dolls (kami sama) and half of the household actually are paper dolls so they don’t eat and their wounds heal very fast. The woulds are healed when the masters lick or touch (and of course including sexual intercourse) the paper dolls. Paper dolls and their masters have to be the same gender. So males can only have male paper dolls and females only female paper dolls. In addition, once a female master gets married and has children, she will lose the ability to use kotodama. The manga "Ze" focuses mainly on the relationships between the masters and their paper dolls. The first volume focuses on Mitou Shoui and Asari whereas the second volume focuses on the main couple Raizou and Kon. I hope in the third volume, we’ll know a little more about Waki (and probably his paper doll lover if he has one, or the mysterious Genma he referred to when he killed the guy who attacked Kon). Let’s move on to the characters, which is probably what makes this manga surprisingly enjoyable and I’ll continue to SPOIL you on the story in the character discussion so be warned!