Manga Review – Otome Mania!!

Otome Mania!! Volume 1

Otome Mania!!
オトメマニア!!
TSUKIGASE Yurino
Shoujo – Comedy, reverse harem, romance, slice-of-life
2 Volumes (complete)
Seven Seas

Summary:

Yuzumi is an otome game fan who is excited to work for an otome game developer. Her dream to one day conquer the industry gets one step closer when she’s given the opportunity to create with a new game. With a strict boss, harsh deadlines, and tough competition, will Yuzumi’s first game be a success? Or will she just be a burden to her coworkers?

Review:

First, I love the 8-bit characters on the back.

Otome Mania!! Volume 1 Back Cover

Unfortunately, Seven Seas didn’t quite keep the otome game-like covers of the Japanese version. The Japanese version of Otome Mania!! is modeled heavily after a PSP/Vita cover with a company strip up top, boxes very similar to the number of players designation, and a title in both Japanese and English. I know it’s not their normal style, but it would have been fun to keep this reference outside of the 8-bit text on the back.

Anyway, Yuzumi is an otoge lover — she’s been playing and reviewing otome games for her blog for years. A week before the start of the manga, she’s been hired by the company TRrick STAR, a well-known developer. Yuzumi’s position is as a scenario writer, but her superior, Ryoichi, is not impressed with her fangirl habits and desires. But when the head of TRick STAR gives her the opportunity to pitch a proposal, Yuzumi learns just how much effort goes into creating even a “simple” app.

I have to say, first off, Yuzumi is a very lucky girl. I don’t know what she went to college for (I’m assuming she did go), and I have no clue what she majored in. I’m guessing composition, literature, or something of the sort. but after only a little over a week, she gets the opportunity to make a proposal. A proposal she doesn’t even know how to draft correctly. The head of the company appears to hire people he thinks are interesting, and TRick STAR is a small company, but that’s still quite a break for a newbie. Also, she’s surrounded by handsome men, most of which develop an interest in her.

As I said, a lucky girl.

Otome Mania!! decided to be meta: a reverse harem featuring the harem working on a fictional reverse harem. Oh, and to be SUPER meta, their main competition is a company where hot guys parade around in costumes and refer to their customers as princesses.

So Meta

I really wish the manga had just remained an inside look at game development with some romance, preferably no more than a love triangle. It could have been a fun edutainment manga. I don’t know if Tsukigase or her editor ruined it by not making the story more realistic. If the author really wanted to draw a reverse harem about a reverse harem, the story should have been pure comedy. Something like Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun, where Nozaki’s life is stranger than the manga he draws.

The first volume of the manga is about the release of Yuzumi’s game Stu Pri, so it covers about six months; the second volume probably covers slightly longer. As you can imagine, Otome Mania!! moves very fast — even faster than the high-paced world of game development. Considering how clueless Yuzumi is about schedules and the game development, it would have been very interesting to see more of each step. She makes some mistakes before starting this project, and I wanted to see more of how the outline of the game was developed, her having to struggle to pick CG points, etc. Instead, each piece of the game is shown or discussed and then fixed later in the chapter without actually detailing the process. The second volume is worse, jumping ahead FIVE months on the production schedule. Even more bizarrely, while Stu Pri was released with only half of its routes for the debut of the app, in the second volume, she’s moved on to developing a new game. Nothing about the second half of Stu Pri. The manga skips the part where the story should be.

I have a feeling the series was axed, as only one of the four designers at the rival developer Princess Limited played a part in the story. The second is slightly more informative, showing readers how even the best laid plans can be sidetracked. The surprise at the end doesn’t make a lot of sense, and the last few pages has it going even more

So Metaand even includes (what I assume is) a tongue-in-cheek remark about Princess Limited. If you’re looking for the love story, it’s not as if Otome Mania!! is leaving the doors open for Alex or any of the other guys, but this manga doesn’t have a really romantic ending.

Basically, no matter which angle you are more interested in — romance or game development — Otome Mania!! comes up short. Again, it’s too bad, as the actual idea was good.

So, the characters… as you might expect, most of them fall into the usual archetypes. Yuzumi is the passionate but inexperienced protagonist, Ryoichi is the strict but capable director, there’s a shy, not-good-with-girls writer, a friendly foreigner, and more. Not everyone at TRick STAR gets their moment in the spotlight, and the whole thing about Princess Limited’s team being handsome doesn’t go anywhere because of how short the series is. (I’m sure if Otome Mania!! had continued, the heroine would have kept adding to her harem.) I liked Alex, as it was unusual to have a foreigner be from the Middle East instead of America or England. The freelance illustrator could have been a real love rival with his warming up to Yuzumi and some of his suggestive comments. (I think I’d love his route in an otome game!) Otherwise, it was a disappointment there were no other female characters to get their perspective on game making or trying to make it in a male-dominated industry.

Tsukigase hasn’t released many works, but it was obvious from the art that most of her works have been BL-related. It reminds me a bit of Kiss Him, Not Me!, even though it’s not really a close match style-wise. Fortunately, while this was her first original work, it doesn’t look like some rushed product. Tsukigase obviously knows a lot about otome games, and she does a good job capturing the different designs and merchandise. The splash pages also contain game references, like an image of the producer at a dialogue branching point. I was impressed that Yurina doesn’t show up to work every day in the same outfit, which is a nice change from usual every day work attire. The art is probably one of the more enjoyable parts of the series.

Translation:

Honorifics are used. Japanese name order is used. No translator’s notes are included, but there really isn’t a lot of technical or pop culture terms. Even popular terms like “tsundere” are only used once, maybe twice. “Salaryman” is used, although in most translations, it’s replaced with “businessman”.

Final Comments:

I believe this is the first manga licensed from Sylph magazine. I would rather have some of their otoge adaptations or stuff like Shouoto’s S.L.H ~Stray Love Hearts~ instead of Otome Mania!!, as this series doesn’t know whether it wants to be an otome game itself or just explore the world of making romance-based visual novels for female.

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2 Comments

  1. The Otaku Judge

    Yuzumi is so lucky. If companies are hiring bloggers to design games why not pick Krystallina??? This manga reminds me of New Game. I was expecting that series to cover game development, but it was just content with being comedy.

    Reply
    1. Krystallina (Post author)

      Director Krystallina’s game design motto: fanservice for everyone, Mary Sues for no one.
      And I already know who I’m going to designate in charge of the catgirls. 😉

      Reply

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