Genres: Contemporary, Erotica, Manga, Romance
Highschooler Aine Yukimura writes sensual lyrics that come right from the heart, and dreams of becoming a song writer. When she has an encounter with Sakuya, the play-boy baddie lead-singer of the hit band Λucifer, she gets pulled in to the music industry quickly. It's not all glamorous, of course, since she has to keep her identity a secret, lest she be attacked by the band's rabid fans, but she also finds herself pursued by rival companies, hit bands wanting her magnificent lyrics, and the womanizing Sakuya.
Welcome to another edition of Manga Mondays! I hope you all had a lovely Easter Weekend. On with this week’s review!
This time I’m looking at Sensual Phrase, or Kaikan Phrase. This title is a shoujo manga, written by mangka Mayu Shinjo. Shinjo has a style that is partial to exceptionally ‘pretty’ men, and wide-eyed, very large breasted young girls, with a few androgynous folks thrown in to take you off your guard. She also has a lot of love for characters with extensive clothes and cars. Seriously, the outfits that both men and women wear in her mangas are gorgeously detailed, and this manga is no exception.
Sensual Phrase first appeared in Shogakukan’s releases of Shoujo Comic between 1997 and 2000. There are 18 volumes total, and they span the long running story of Aine Yukimura, a highschooler with dreams of becoming a song-writer for the music industry.
The Plot: Aine writes beautiful, sensual lyrics with meaning and heart, and while she’s never experienced romance or love, she hopes to find a true love someday that not only is full of the passion she writes about, but that will stand the test of time. After hanging out with friends one afternoon, she loses her song lyrics to the wind, and as she chases them, she is almost run over by a very fast, expensive car! Who is the driver? None other than Sakuya Ookochi, lead singer of the hot music group Λucifer (Pronounced ‘Lucifer’). Sakuya has a reputation for being a play-boy, a bad boy, and is a total mystery to everyone. At first he’s angry at Aine for running out in front of him, but when he picks up her song lyrics- and takes off with them- he is quick to turn them in to a song for his band. Aine goes to the concert to get her lyrics back, and is soon asked by the band and their manager to become their exclusive lyricist. Aine has to be protected, though, as the fans of the band have a history of being so jealous and protective that they usually resort to violence when girls get too close to the boys. So, she goes under the pseudonym of Yukihiko Aine, and is hired by the record label.
All the while, Aine becomes close to the band members, becoming friends with Yukifumi (“Yuki”) Todo, the band’s leader and oldest member; Yoshihiko Nagai ( called “Santa” because his birthday is on Christmas Day); Kazuto (“Towa”) Sakuma, who is the most androgynous and makes both women and men swoon; and Atsuro Kiryuu, who is the youngest and most cheerful member of the band. Sakyua, on the other hand, isn’t interested in just friendship. He tries to seduce Aine, but she considers it his womanizing. Still, she finds herself falling in love with him from the side-lines, and thinks that her feelings are unrequited, until Sakuya writes a song called ‘Love Song’, which translates in to Japanese as ‘Aine’ (ai- Love, ne- Song). Once the two realize that they are surely in love, Sakuya makes it his mission to be as devoted and protective of Aine as possible, while Aine resolves to ensure that her beloved and his bandmates make it to the top of the charts, and rein at the #1 spot for as long as possible.
Yes, this is a romance, but it is a staple among shoujo mangas. Everyone who reads this genre has read it, or heard of it, and the reason is because of the long-running evolution of Aine and Sakuya’s relationship. It does become passionate and heated (which shocks me that they let HIGHSCHOOL girls read it! This should be rated 18+ for nudity and sex!), but they also learn to be forgiving, tender, caring, and sacrificing of one another in order for each to gain happiness. The other characters, primarily the other members of the band, also have long-running stories and great moments. Santa seeks his own ‘Miss Right’, but usually gets distracted, Towa develops feelings for his best friend/makeup and hair stylist who is a ‘plain’ girl, Yuki keeps his wife and son safe by not revealing their identities but manages to be a good father to his son, and Atsuro must deal with being in love with his step-sister. But unfortunately the series focus is primarily on Aine and Sakuya.
On that note, I hate to give away spoilers, but I feel I MUST give a warning. Mayu Shinjo often uses the ‘dubious consent’ card in her mangas, beatings from mobs, and the trope of ‘rape as drama’. There are quite a few ‘dubious’ moments in this series, Aine is beaten up by rabid fans, and worse, there is a sequence where Aine is raped by the head of a rival music company. It’s not sensual or good at all- it is horrible. There are other dark moments, such as attempted suicides, brutal car accidents, and even the death of someone close to the whole band. While the manga does deal with the repercussions of it all, and the aftermath, still, for those of you who get triggered by these things, then be warned: Please skip those sections.
On the whole, the series starts out like a most ‘cinderella’ shoujos, where the protagonist girl is swept up in to glitz and glam, is pampered, and falls for the stunningly handsome male lead, and it ends with the ‘happily ever after’ joy and glory, but it has some very dark moments sprinkled through out the usual ‘will the band make it’ and ‘will she stay loyal to the boy/the band’ plots. It’s an enjoyable read if you’re in to that sort of thing, and the side-characters are cute enough to keep you going.
I give this manga 3 Stars. Good read, some interesting characters, and a lot of pretty costumes and loads of pretty men to look at, but too much grim-dark and sex to be fully awesome (and that’s saying something as a fan of Game of Thrones and The Tudors.)