Monday, July 1, 2013

Shigisawa Kaya, Virtual Red

Virtual Red (Vācharu Reddo ヴァーチャル・レッド) by Shigisawa Kaya シギサワカヤ.  Published as a book in 2012 in 2 volumes, of which I've only read the first;  the episodes in it were mostly published in dōjinshi between 2004 and 2006.

I picked this up because I was looking for something different in manga, and the cover looked interesting.  (The red tint is a translucent red cover - take it off and the picture underneath is mostly white - nice effect.)  Erotic, sure, but maybe more, maybe interesting.

It wasn't, unfortunately.  I've never read this author.  I don't know quite what to make of it.  The story is mildly intriguing:  an overworked, underconfident young male software engineer is directed by a coworker to the house of a woman "who'll sleep with anyone."  He sleeps with her once, basically moves in with her, and most of the rest of the book (what I read, anyway) takes place in the house.  But rather than focusing on their sexual escapades, as seems to be the promise at first, the focus is on the guy's confusion and anxiety - is she real?  Why does she like and accept him?  Where is her husband?  Is he taking advantage of her (duh)?

That description makes it sound more interesting than it actually is.  I'm just not sure what this is trying to do.  The woman is way too underdeveloped to be an effective deconstruction of a male fantasy - but after the initial sex scene their relationship is too tame to work as a straight rendition of a male fantasy, either.  Visually and narratively she's presented as a hundred percent sex kitten, with no apparent interiority, suggesting it's not really aimed at women readers, but there's so little payoff that it's hard to imagine it's aimed at male readers either.  If the narrative was a little less foggy (it's rather hard to follow, because we're constantly trying to follow both an impressionistically-rendered external narrative and a very inarticulate internal monologue in the guy's head) it might be challenging on a number of levels, but it's not, so it's not.  It seems to be aiming at literary erotica, but it's not really effective as either.  I'm not going to bother with the second volume.

Mrs. Sgt. T., who's far more manga-literate than I, says this is a perfect example of one possible early etymology of yaoiThat is, this isn't dealing in homoerotica, but it is totally lacking in plot tension, punch lines, and meaning. 

1 comment:

Matt said...

Normally I would guess at a "look how banal sex really is"-type vision of ironic detachment, but not with that cover.