Having recently made her successful directorial debut, renowned anime writer Mari Okada now makes her leap to the world of manga in a new series with Forget Me Not artist Nao Emoto. When Kazusa enters high school, she joins the Literature Club, where she leaps from reading innocent fiction to diving into the literary classics. But these novels are a bit more… adult than she was prepared for. Between euphemisms like fresh dewy grass and pork stew, crushing on the boy next door, and knowing you want to do that one thing before you die – discovering your budding sexuality is no easy feat! As if puberty wasn’t awkward enough, the club consists of a brooding writer, the prettiest girl in school, an agreeable comrade, and an outspoken prude. Fumbling over their own discomforts, these five teens get thrown into chaos over three little letters: S…E…X…!
Mari Okada is a name that has been held in high regard in recent years amongst anime fans. Just some of the hits she has worked on include Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, anohana, Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, Black Butler and Toradora. 2018 marked her directorial debut with the highly acclaimed feature length film Maquia which solidified her reputation as one of the top female talents working in the anime industry. O Maidens in Your Savage Season marks her manga debut and she looks to be just as strong at writing for the printed page as she is for writing for the screen.
Sex is not usually a subtle topic when it comes to manga, but this opening volume demonstrates a degree of restraint and subtlety that is more than a bit surprising. Each of the club members are going through similar experiences but are reacting in different ways. Kazusa’s journey gets the main focus in this opening volume. The beginning of her journey of self-discovery is certainly packed with funny moments – especially in the Literature Club’s reading sessions – but Okada still manages to take a tactful approach to moments that in other series would be sources of comedy. With Kazusa’s crush Izumi, readers see a few events that you’d expect in a teen comedy whilst at the same time they get to explore Kazusa’s reaction to these events and how her sexual discovery parallels with his.
Nao Emoto is a perfect choice on the illustration front. She has all the comedy moments that you’d expect in a teen manga down to a tee, but also knows when the moment calls for restraint and a more delicate approach. Her characters are highly expressive which really heightens the emotions of certain scenes (Kazusa’s realisation in the final chapter being a great example) and are a great accompaniment to Okada’s storytelling.
Okada’s manga debut is a fantastic subtle examination of puberty and another example of why she’s one of the top talents working in anime (and now manga) today. With an anime adaptation set for release in July, now is the perfect time to check this series out.
9781632368188 – P/B – £10.99
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